Constitute task force to curb drug menace: Himachal HC

Shimla, July 26 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to constitute a special task force, headed by an Indian Police Service officer, within three weeks to arrest drug peddlers in the worst-affected districts.

The court ordered that all investigations in cases where the quantity of contraband is more than the commercial quantity are to be supervised by a Superintendent of Police-rank officer.

Setting aside the acquittal of Devi Singh by a lower court and convicting him, a division bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Sureshwar Thakur directed the Himachal police chief to issue directions to investigating officers to trace the sources of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and their final destination within and outside the hill state.

The court will announce the quantum of sentence in the instant case on August 2.

“Such persons from whom these (drugs) are purchased in the state by couriers or carriers and the persons to whom these are to be delivered finally must be booked,” said the bench.

The 19-page judgment quoted a seminar organised at the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital in Shimla on drug abuse, wherein it was said that 40 per cent youth are involved in drug abuse.

The court directed the Principal Secretary (Home) that while constituting the special task force he should personally go through the annual confidential reports of officers concerned to ensure that only the best officers are picked up for this sensitive job.

Police officials told IANS that the inaccessible valleys and lofty mountains in the western Himalayas are happy hunting grounds for the cultivation of cannabis and opium.

The interiors of Kullu, Chamba, Mandi and Shimla districts are the country’s biggest drug-producing areas, with a considerable amount finding its way to Europe.

Malana in the Kullu Valley is known for cultivating ‘Malana Cream’, hashish that is a purified resinous extract of cannabis prized in the West.

Police records show 50,000 acres of land is under cannabis cultivation in the Kullu Valley alone.

In the past five years, 70 foreigners, mainly Britons, Israelis, Dutch, Germans, Japanese and Italians, have been arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

–IANS

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