18:28 GMT23 January 2021
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    The trigger for the decision is the ongoing protest demonstrations by the general public in India’s northern state of Punjab demanding serious action by the government to curb the drug menace that has been claiming at least one life each day.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — The northern Indian state of Punjab has made it mandatory for public servants including the police force to undergo dope tests on a regular basis. More than 100 Punjab Police personnel have been arrested for smuggling drugs or abetting the illicit trade since 2014 — when the state first began its crackdown on the menace.

    The state has also written to the union government suggesting an amendment of existing legislation to accommodate the death penalty for drug trafficking.

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    "Drug screening would be mandatory in all cases of recruitment and promotions. It would be part of the annual medical examination of all civilian/police employees, wherever prescribed," a state government official told media.

    The diktat has however encountered harsh criticism from different quarters with many questioning the rationale behind keeping politicians out of the rule's purview.  

    "Dope test of government servants for recruitment/promotions proposed by Punjab government is a welcome step. It must be made mandatory for all members of legislative assemblies and members of Parliament from the state. It would not only set an example but unreasonable classification between two classes of Public Servants may not meet the test of law," Manish Tewari, national spokesperson of Indian National Congress said.

    The Punjab Employees Union has also raised similar questions.

     "Rather, the Chief Minister, Ministers, and Members of Legislative Assemblies should undergo the dope test first," Sukhchain Khaira, chief of the Punjab Civil Secretariat Staff Association said.

    An expert has suggested that drug testing at the workplace does not necessarily diagnose drug addiction as it only aims to detect the presence of narcotics in the samples tested. Dr. Debasish Basu, a professor at the drug rehab and treatment center at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh told the Hindustan Times that incorrect interpretation of results may lead to human rights violations, thus attracting greater controversy.

    "There are many technical caveats to using workplace drug testing and interpretation of results. False positive results can have unfair implications for the employee and human rights violation, hence the need for elaborate procedures starting from sample collection and two-stage testing and interpretation," Dr. Debasish Basu told the Hindustan Times.

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    On Monday, four youths were found dead in the state with preliminary investigations suggesting a drug overdose as the reason for the death of all four. In the last month, at least 27 deaths due to drug-related were reported from different parts of Punjab.


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    public concerns, illegal, drug addiction, test, deaths, India, Punjab
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