CHHATTISGARH: Koriya district in northwest Chhattisgarh, executed a campaign Nijaat (riddance in Urdu) in the quest to achieve a drug-free society.
Law enforcing agencies have said that a significant section of the district's population was addicted to narcotic drugs. According to the police records, around 35 per cent of the crimes were associated with illicit drugs and liquor in the region. A sizeable section of minors was found addicted to drugs, a major concern for the police.
The Koriya police had its task well cut out: wipe out illicit drugs and bootlegging while preventing its smuggling or trading. The Nijaat drive pursued a three-pronged strategy: tough action against businesses of illegal drugs or narcotics, a spirited public awareness campaign, extending support in counselling and rehabilitation as a de-addiction engagement process.
"We succeeded in getting people’s support in our campaign; they started informing us as we scaled up enforcement," said Koriya SP Santosh Kumar Singh, who spearheaded the drive.
Within a span of six months, Nijaat became a people's drive against drug abuse and trafficking. The mobilisation campaign included people's representatives and women at the grassroots level. "As the message percolated down, the youth too came forward," the SP added. The campaign continued in consonance with the directive of CM Bhupesh Baghel to swiftly act and check smuggling of drugs.
The drug-related crimes gradually dipped by nearly one-third in the district with over 8 lakh population. The campaign saw wall paintings, rallies by youths, hoardings, rangoli contests in support of 'Nijaat' campaign and bike and cycle rallies.
Local artists put together video and rap songs to publicise the drive. 'Mile Nijaat' - a song became popular among the youths, one of the targeted segments. It is uploaded as mobile phone ringtones. "It was encouraging for us to find many people taking a pledge to volunteer against drug abuse. They prevented the youths from addiction," said Madhulika Singh, .
Many film actors, noted folk singers and opinion makers too joined the campaign. Some illustrious names include Kailash Kher, Prabhu Deva, Arbaaz Khan, Shahwar Ali, Bhagwan Tiwari, Virendra Saxena, comedian Sunil Grover and Rajpal Yadav.
In a six-month drive, 152 arrests were made in cases related to drugs and narcotics, and 887 cases registered in illegal business of liquor and drugs. The Koriya police, with the cooperation of the locals, have arrested 923 traffickers, paddlers and bootleggers.
"Drugs had destroyed our self-respect and had disastrous effects on our personal relationships. We realised how much family joy we had missed," said a drug abuser abandoned by his family, at a rehablitation centre.