It might be a bitter pill to swallow but its time to face the reality
Almost two years back, the people of Punjab were reading these headlines everyday; why Punjab is India's narcotic haven? Why Punjab records highest drug-related cases country-wide? Are state elections in Punjab being fought with drug money? Will Punjab become another Mexico?
In those days, producer Anurag Kashyap might have not even finalised his script of Udta Punjab or even casted the lead actors like; Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and Alia Bhatt. Moreover, even CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihlani may not have dreamt that he would be becoming a censor board chief one day in the leadership of Narendra Modi (his idol). He joined CBFC in January 2015.
Today, in June 2016, Punjab appears divided in the ongoing row over the censor board's major cuts in Film Udta Punjab and its decision that all references to the state (for becoming den of drugs) be deleted from the film.
The Congress party is blaming Akali Dal-BJP government in Punjab with an allegation of banning the film with guilty conscience. Even the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is blaming the ruling government for the problems which film is portraying. And to counter that Akali Dal pointing finger towards the central government (BJP) - as it controls CBFC and its censorship power.
On January 2014, Chandigarh's Narcotics Control Board (NCB) Zonal Director, Kaustubh Sharma had revealed that shocking data, which stated, "During the last year (2013-14), a total 30,000 cases of drug peddling were registered in the country out of which 15,000 were from Punjab alone." In the same year, former Punjab DGP (prisons) Shashi Kant's had claimed that the state elections are fought with the help of drugs and drug money. He had been quoted saying, "last year (2013), the size of annual narcotics trade in Punjab was around Rs 60,000 crore."
Today, seeing the political tamasha on the release of Udta Punjab - investigative officers, both in NCB and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) are shocked and surprised to see why CBFC and political parties trying to ban the film Udta Punjab - which is nothing, but a harsh reality. Official of DRI, on the request of anonymity told Indiatoday.in that, such film should not be banned in the name of censorship and number of cuts. "How could CBFC ignore the facts? Punjab has become state with major drug consumption. I am from Punjab and my family stay in the border region. Punjab shares its border with Pakistan which is the major source of drugs. Such films should be made and released for putting facts before the people and create awareness among the youth, especially in Punjab itself."
"The state government and the censor board could not ignore these facts. There is no letup in drug menace within Punjab as the state has registered 50 percent of the total drug related cases in the country", an official from NCB, Mumbai said. In 2014, Indian Express had conducted a comprehensive investigation on 6,598 FIRs - which were made available under the Right of Information Act. These FIRs were registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act from January 1 to December 31, 2014 in 152 police stations that fall under 14 of the 28 police districts in Punjab.
In May 2014, stung by allegations of inaction over the rampant abuse and trafficking of drugs, the Punjab government launched an aggressive crackdown declaring that they wouldn't spare anyone. Finally, across the state - 17,068 and 11,593 arrests were made in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
While explaining the modus operandi to Indiatoday.in, one NCB official said, "the smugglers in Punjab supply and receive consignments via villages bordering Pakistan. The main drugs either come from Afghanistan or Pakistan. The packets (in various forms) are inserted from the Pakistan side and received on the Indian side by the smugglers."
Sources says, the packet of drugs are stuffed into the tubes of tractor tires and filled with air before they are hurled into the rivers and tributaries in Pakistan that criss-cross their way into India. Once the tires cross India, specialized divers swim underwater and guide the consignments, usually in packets of 500 grams, to safety. In addition, the packet of drugs, mostly cocaine and heroin are filled into PVC pipes and are thrust through the fencing.
Not openly, but the investigative officers from anti-narcotics zones are supporting the film, with the hope that it would highlight the real state-of-affairs of Punjab and the impact of drugs consumption on today's youth. "Kill the menace of drugs, but not the messenger (film)", an official concludes.