The controversy surrounding the Abhishek Chaubey-directed "Udta Punjab" has brought back the focus to the crippling drug menace in Punjab. While, the state has grabbed the national headlines of late, the issue is not just restricted to only that state.
Another major cause for concern is the drug seizures from across the country. It is not just Punjab; different states of India have been responsible for creating a potential law and order problem.
The fact that India is in close proximity to the Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan) as well as the Golden Triangle (Myanmar, Laos and Thailand) makes it vulnerable to drug trafficking.
Data shows that the country itself is in the grip of a potential "drug epidemic". Take a look at these five charts that highlight the increasing drug problem across India.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 is India's comprehensive narcotics control legislation. Under this law, nearly 7 lakh cases have been reported between 1986 and 2014. Between 2004-14, the number of cases booked under this Act rose by an alarming 70 percent. From 2013 to 2014 alone, there was a 35.3 percent rise. While 31.2 percent of the total drug cases were reported from Maharashtra, Punjab was a close second at 30.9 percent. In what can be a cause of concern for Punjab, around 50 percent of the total crimes in the state were drug-related in 2014, much higher than the national average of 3.8 percent.
More than 7.6 lakh people have been booked under the NDPS Act across the country, as per data available since 1989. Between 2011 and 2014, there was a spurt in the arrests from 30,853 to 56,109. An overwhelming 97 percent of those arrested were males.
When compared to the number of arrests made every year, convictions remain low. Around 3,16,000 people have been convicted of various drug-related crimes since 1989. In 2014, the number of people convicted stood at 22,893, while those arrested were much higher - at 56,109. More than 1.9 lakh people were classified as undertrials.
Ganja is the drug seized most often in the country. Interestingly, during the period from 2005 to 2014, the quantity of the substance seized has remained more or less the same - about 1,10,600 kgs. Meanwhile, seizures of heroin spiked 52.5 percent from 899 kgs to 1371 kgs. However, seizures of ephedrine witnessed a astonishing 165 times rise during the period from just 8 kgs to 1,330 kgs. The drug is used by many for fighting low blood pressure, asthma and obesity. From 2005 to 2014, seizures of opium, which is used in preparing heroin, increased 65.5 percent from 1,067 kgs to 1,766 kg. The highest quantity was seized from Assam — 1,000 kgs.
During 2009-11, drug seizures in value terms witnessed a jump from Rs 17.05 crores to a Rs 1,017.99 crores, only to fall to Rs 31.95 crore in 2014.
Clearly, drug is not just Punjab's headache but a concern for the entire country.