LAHORE: A report of the Lahore police on the drug abuse, challenges and the way forward has brought to the limelight some disturbing facts, stating that the police found ‘102 dead bodies of chronic addicts’ in the provincial capital during the last six months.

The first comprehensive police report on the drug abuse was prepared by Lahore police.

Lahore Operations DIG retired Capt Sohail Chaudhry prepared and submitted the detailed report to the inspector general of police to forward the same to the Punjab government for consideration, saying that it would help eradicate the drug abuse.

The report carried sufficient details, including the problems and the recommendations for the Punjab government to take drastic measures to make Lahore ‘a drug-free city’.

Suggests turning all six Panahgahs into rehabilitation centres

The report suggested to the chief minister to turn all six Pannah Gahs (shelter homes) in Lahore into rehabilitation centres for drug addicts, saying there were millions of addicts in the city and they were dying on the roadsides.

It also recommended establishment of ‘Drug Victim Support Squads’ by the district administration with the help of police.

Sharing some disturbing facts, the report said the Lahore police picked up 102 dead bodies of drug addicts from various parts of the city since January 2022 while responding to the calls at 15. They died of chronic addiction and most of them were using injectable drugs. Hashish was said to be the most common substance besides sedatives and tranquilisers such as benzodiazepines, heroin and opium. The ‘inhalant abuse among streetchildren’ was also considered another major challenge to the Lahore police and the threat for the young generation.

The report pointed out of total 87 points/pockets of drug addiction in the provincial capital where drug abusers could be seen in groups. Of them, a large number of such points – total 32 – were found in the City division, 24 in Civil Lines division, 12 in Saddar, eight each in Model Town and Cantt while three such pockets were pointed out in Iqbal Town division.

Declaring it a major social hazard, the police report said the criminal action against the drug abusers was insufficient as they needed rehabilitation to come back to normal life. It underlined the need for immediate rehabilitation of the addicts in the city that lacked rehabilitation centres. It sought action against open sale of drugs/syringes at the medical stores.

The report termed the district administration negligent towards the issue, suggesting other drug users should be called victims rather than offenders. Another challenge associated with the drug abusers was that most of them were diagnosed with the serious mental and physical illnesses including HIV, hepatitis and depression etc which made it difficult for police to deal with them during custody.

The deaths of the drug abusers due to the health problems and suicide in the custody had increased manifold, creating challenges for the police officials who were facing departmental punishments and inquiries due to custodial deaths of the drug users.

“According to Sections 52 and 53 of Control of Narcotics Substance ACT (CNSA) 1997, the responsibility for the registration and rehabilitation of drug addicts falls within the purview of the provincial governments,” read the report. For this purpose, the most relevant departments were the Social Welfare and Baitul Mall departments, it said, suggesting that under Section 52 of the CNSA, the government should start registration of all drug addicts for rehabilitation/treatment while issuing them registration cards. Under Section 53, it should establish treatment centres with facilities such as detoxification, de-addiction, education, aftercare, rehabilitation, social integration of addicts and supply of such medicines as necessary.

Lahore has no dedicated rehabilitation centre for drug addicts and there is only one dedicated ‘Drug Rehabilitation Centre’ in the whole Punjab (in Multan), the report pointed out, saying that about 10 ‘Model Drug Abuse Centres’ were established in Punjab but they were not fully functional. The Anti-Narcotics Force has set up “Model Addicts Treatment & Rehabilitation Centres” in five major cities of the province but none of them was operating in Lahore. The report claimed that police were making efforts on their own and a 120-bed ward had been allocated at the Punjab Institute of Mental Health for the rehabilitation and treatment of addicts. Similarly, coordination was being made with the health department to allocate one 100-bed designated ward each at the two major state-run hospitals of Lahore. However, multi-agency/departments mobilisation was required by the government departments, including health, district administration, social welfare, Baitul Maal, ANF, police and NADRA to eradicate drug abuse and rehabilitate the addicts.

Another recent report by an organisation on the drug abuse in Lahore showed that 60 addicts were found dead in the city in one month while the total number of the bodies was 205 in the first five months of the ongoing year.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2022

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