Govt will not hestitate to use 'Goonda Act' to crack down on

Karnataka deputy chief minister G Parameshwara said today the government would not hesitate to invoke the 'Goonda Act' against drug peddlers to crack down "mercilessly" on the drug menace and asserted that he would not allow the state to become "another Punjab."

"We have not come to Punjab-like situation. We should not come to such situation. If we don't take precautions now, we may go to that situation," Parameshwara said while replying to a short duration discussion on the issuein the assembly.

Parameshwara, who also holds the charge of Home ministry, said he would not allow Karnataka to become another Punjab, where drug menace is rampant.

He said immediate steps need to be taken to stop the menace.

"I will not allow Karnataka to become another Punjab. I want to assure that all necessary steps will be taken within the framework of law. I will take action mercilessly," Parameshwara said.

The minister said he had held a meeting with senior police officers and directed them to keep a strict vigil on such activities.

"I have told officials that if they close their eyes and allow such activities to take place, I will not tolerate,"he said.

Expressing surprise over recent findings that drugs were being supplied from Bengaluru to different places, he said it is a "big network."

The deputy chief minister said a jointmeeting of police, health, excise and education department would be called to discuss efforts to stop the menace.

Stressing the need for a strong national debate on the drug menace, he said the central government has to bring in a strong national law on this issue that includes death penalty as a provision.

Responding to a demand by opposition BJP members, including leaders B S Yeddyurappa and R Ashoka, for invoking the "Goonda Act" against those involved in drug peddling, he said "We will even slap the goonda act depending on the case, against drug peddlers, kingpins. We will not tolerate."

Agreeing with the views expressed by some members that some foreign students were involved in supply of drugs in the city, he said police had been directed to keep a strong vigil on them and deport those whose visa has expired.

Intervening, Health Minister Shivananda Patil said steps would be taken to ensure that there was proper consultation and coordination between police, health and excise departments to control the drug menace.

Raising the issue, Ashoka said supply of drugs had become a "business" in cities like Bengaluru, Hubballi, Belagavi, Mangaluru, and it was now spreading to other parts.

He said about 4 to 5 lakh people were addicted to drugs and a majorityamong them were students.

Influence of drugs was oneamong the major causes for road accidents, the deputy chief minister said.

There are reports suggesting that narcotic substances were being grown in farms around the city, Ashoka said.

He demanded setting up of a special squad and slapping of 'goonda act' on drug peddlers.

Senior BJP leader Suresh Kumar alleged that police were aware of those involved in supply of drugs, pointing out that it was difficult to conduct such activity without their knowledge.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)