A heart-wrenching incident inside a center named ‘Sankalp Nasha Mukti’ operating in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh has exposed the real reality of almost all the unregulated drug de-addiction centres. The staff of the center crossed all limits of living humanity with the drug addicted youth admitted there. The incident not only forces one to think but also gives goosebumps. The staff inserted the lighter of the gas stove in the young man’s private part, due to which the young man’s intestine burst, his condition worsened so much that he had to be admitted to the hospital. After a day or two of treatment, when he told the details of the incident to his family members, everyone was shocked. This latest incident in Rewa is just an example of the brutality that drug addicts are subjected to in the drug de-addiction centers that have spread like mushrooms across the country. Even more torture is done to the patients in the centres. Can’t even imagine how women are treated.
De-addiction centers are operated as per the rules set by the Social Welfare Department of the Central and State Governments. But, the harsh reality is that government rules are hung on pegs in de-addiction centres. The people at the center neither follow any guidelines of the Social Welfare Department nor does anyone from the government go to monitor them. There is a little uproar over complaints, otherwise nothing? Whereas, there are many arrangements for care on paper, is there any shortage? It seems as if people in government departments also leave drug addicted patients to their fate. De-addiction centers mostly operate under the guise of NGOs whose sole objective is to earn money. The drug de-addiction centers are taking advantage of the rapid spread of drug addiction in India today. Not in any one state, but in the entire country, organized money extortion business is in full swing in the name of ‘de-addiction’. For people, this has become a business sector in which income is desirable.
De-addiction centers are open in cities, villages, villages, towns etc. Go to any city or village in Punjab, will you see more de-addiction centers than education centres? This is how Punjab is called ‘Flying Punjab’. Recently, a big white collar leader has gone inside on charges of drug trafficking. These businesses are mostly opened on the pretext of social service. But in reality these centers have turned into more ‘torture centers’ instead of ‘de-addiction and rehabilitation’. In the centres, the staff, along with drug addicts, are subjected to third degree torture, electric shock, starvation and forced labor? The people at the center make false promises to every drug addict to get rid of the drug. In return, they charge huge fees every month from their family members. Do relatives leave their loved ones in the hope that their loved one will get rid of his addiction?
It is worth noting that there is another dark truth about this scam. The de-addiction centers are not full of experts; they are almost full of beginners. Whereas, on the boards outside, it is claimed that there are specialist doctors and experts in neuro, mental, drugs etc. There, most of the people are untrained, untrained and behave unethically. At many centres, they themselves dive into liquor bottles in the dark of night and have even been caught. Just a few days ago, in Mansa district of Punjab, the local SDM conducted a surprise inspection of a drug de-addiction center late at night on a complaint, where the operator of the center himself was found drunk. There was a time when it used to be heard about drug de-addiction centers that every drug addict who visited these centers would get freed from the drug. But, the truth is completely opposite.
In most centres, drug addicts are served food worse than jail. When they feel hungry and ask for food, the center people not only mentally harass them, beat them, abuse them, spit on their faces and even urinate on their bodies in public. One such incident has come to light from Raipur, Chhattisgarh. Whereas, the victim’s wife has filed a case against the operator of the center making similar allegations. The center staff misbehave with drug addicts worse than animals. Whereas, even today there are many centers where treatment is done after proper counselling. A decade ago, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, based on the findings of a large-scale national survey and inputs from the Narcotics Control Bureau, had launched the ‘Drug Free India Campaign’ in about 372 vulnerable districts of different states, especially Punjab. But the results were not as expected. Even today, doctors provide consultation and practice of yoga daily at traditional centres. Keeps busy in activities like gym, sports, bhajan-kirtan, satsang etc. Medical checkups are done from time to time. Addicts are given alcohol to test whether they have the desire to drink or not. This is not done in those de-addiction centers because the people there are not trained.
All the centers follow the same path and there is collusion among themselves. Usually a course of 3 or 5 months is prescribed. Doctors are made by themselves. In front of the family members, they take the pulse of the patients and pretend to check ECG in the native way. They call out quickly with their mouths open. Actually, they do this so that the family members of the victim can be satisfied that their person is in the hands of an expert doctor. In the beginning, the center makes the victim’s family write on a stamp paper that they will not be responsible if anything happens? After the increasing number of deaths and painful incidents in drug centers, people have now started fearing the centres. This incident happened in June itself, after the death of a patient due to torture in a center operated in Ghaziabad, 52 patients there broke the window and ran away. When deaths occur there due to torture, the people at the center explain away the incident by terming it as suspicious circumstances. Keeping in mind the incidents happening inside the de-addiction centers, the central and state governments should make the strictest rules and there should be monitoring from time to time, guidelines should be made, should all the de-addiction centers other than NGOs be brought under the provision of being legally registered?
-Dr. Ramesh Thakur
(The author is a senior journalist)