Fifty-six of 1,790 candidates who appeared on the first day of physical tests on Wednesday as part of Punjab Police’s recruitment trials for constables in Doaba region — comprising the districts Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanhshahr —tested positive for drugs.
In Amritsar, of 400 aspirants scheduled to appear, 270 came for the tests; of them, five tested positive. In Ludhiana, four of 349 aspirants tested positive; the figure was 19 of 356 candidates in Moga.
The numbers may be high, or low — there’s no way to know, as there are no previous such records and dope tests are being introduced this year. Women candidates are exempted from the dope tests. Armed with biometric systems to scan fingerprints and “instant kit-based tests” to check “habitual” drug-abusers, the state police stood guard at 27 centres to arrest the image of ‘Udta Punjab’ from taking wings.
According to police, a candidate from Jalandhar, identified as Sanju, died of a heart attack during the physical test today.
In Amritsar, the physical test was disrupted due to inclement weather and a technical snag in the police software.
Punjab Police was compiling the numbers till late Wednesday night — how many appeared for the tests on Day One,
and, more importantly, how many failed the dope test.The recruitment drive is part of the process to fill up vacancies of 7,416 constables (6,252 men and 1,164 women) and 7 lakh people have applied from across the state, including nearly 1 lakh women. As per orders from Punjab Police headquarters in Chandigarh, those testing “positive” will get another chance – they will be required to get their tests done from an external laboratory, and if the results are “negative”, they can reappear after September 11. But why a second chance? Deputy Commissioner Police, Ludhiana, Dhurman Nimbale explained: “We are conducting instant kit-based tests. Sometimes, the colour of kit changes even after consumption of clinical drug recommended by doctors. So those who tested positive today have been asked to get the test done again from an external lab, and if it is negative, they can reappear.
“We also require a medical certificate stating which drug was taken and for which treatment.” Moga’s SSP H S Pannu said those who tested positive in today’s test were referred to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital in Faridkot. “If found addicts, they will be counselled and rehabilitated and given a second chance to reappear,” he said. Amritsar Police Commissioner A S Chahal said the tests were only being conducted for “habitual drugs, not for performance enhancing drugs”.
Explaining the seriousness with which the tests are being conducted, senior officers said test kits used at the police recruitment drive are the same as the ones used at drug de-addiction centres.
According to officers, candidates are primarily being tested for addiction to Morphine (opium, poppy husk, heroin, etc), Benzodiazepine (sleeping pills, etc), Tetrahydrocannabinol (drugs extracted from cannabis plant), Propoxphene (drugs used for narcotic pain relievers), and Methamphetamine (chalk, ice, crystal, etc).