Civil vigilante groups spring up in Punjab to wage war on drug gangs

This community policing is gaining ground in particularly in the border districts of Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Moga, Jalandhar and Fategarh Sahib.

Published: 07th July 2018 10:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th July 2018 12:48 PM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purposes.

CHANDIGARH:  Shaken by a spate of drug related deaths in recent weeks, people in Punjab are now taking it upon themselves to catch drug peddlers and smugglers in order to stop the supply of ‘chitta’ to the youth.

In villages across several districts, people are resorting to thikri pehra, or community policing. Even the police and government authorities have approved the idea of community patrolling. The reason is simple: the locals are aware who the addicts and the peddlers are. 

The idea is not new. Since the 1960s, people of the state, particularly in villages, have been doing thikri pehra to protect themselves from anti-social elements and securing their locality. Such community patrolling gained prominence about a decade ago when robbers of the dreaded Kala Kachha gangs operating in Punjab and Haryana use to strike in the villages and semi-urban areas, looted and killed people. Then, people started patrolling their localities at night and at times caught these robbers 
and handed them over to the police.

Now, the same has been started to catch drug peddlers and now technology is also being also used by the group of volunteers doing thikri pehra. They are using mobile phones to communicate and when they catch a drug peddler, they make a video and put it on the social media.   

This community policing is gaining ground in particularly in the border districts of Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Moga, Jalandhar and Fategarh Sahib. In Taran Taran, after a video of a young boy taking drugs went viral, the thikri pehra volunteers tracked down the peddler, who was a girl in her twenties, caught her and handed her over to the police. 

“We give thikri pehra in our village day and night. We have formed teams and each and every individual who comes to the village is verified. If someone unknown comes to the village, the antecedents of the individual are verified. If we are satisfied, then the person is let in the village. Such to the strict checking, now the peddlers are not taking the risk to enter our village and this is the story of many other villages also,” said one youth.

Extending support to the initiative, Additional DGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu, who is the chief of Special Task Force on Drugs, said, “We welcome public support in the efforts of the state government in its comprehensive action against drug abuse. We also request them to provide information to the police. 
“However, their action should not go beyond the law to vigilantism or taking law into their own hands. Any person caught committing an offence in front of the public should be handed over to the local police immediately,” Sidhu added. 

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