Govt decides to strengthen presence of VDPs to eradicate menace of drugs and narcotics

SHILLONG, MAY 28: Social Welfare Minister Paul Lyngdoh on Tuesday reviewed the progress of the Drug Reduction Elimination and Action Mission (DREAM) and informed that the government has decided to strengthen the presence of the village defence parties (VDPs) to eradicate the menace of drugs and narcotics in Meghalaya.


The meeting was attended by officials from the home police department, social welfare, and various NGOs involved in the fight against drugs.


Addressing media persons, Lyngdoh said the meeting was organized to review the progress of the DREAM, various interventions that have taken place and also looking at the way forward on how to address the gaps in tackling the menace of drugs.


On the short term measures taken to address the issue, Lyngdoh said, “One of the areas of discussion was on the revamping and reorganizing and also to look at the possibility of organizing village defence parties especially in the identified hotspots including the Shillong city.”


“One major area of concern for us was the need to make the programme more community oriented. We would not like to see DREAM as just a government initiative. It is very important in order to eliminate and eradicate the menace of drugs and narcotics, we need to broaden the involvement of civil society,” he added.


He informed that in the last two sessions of interactions with dorbar shnongs, there was a general consensus that the shnongs would like to be involved in identifying and also tackling this menace.


“So today’s discussion, we concentrated and we focussed on the possibility of strengthening the presence of VDPs across the state of Meghalaya,” he said.


The minister said, “One of the gaps for instance the fact that the dorbar shnongs feels that they are not adequately empowered and for some of them to even identify and be involved in the process of taking an accused and registering against them in the police stations becomes a very cumbersome task. That was one area. And we thought that better policing will happen if we are able to involve the communities through the VDPs and that is going to be a major initiative that we are going to revamp and revise the presence of VDPs across the state.”


The minister said the duties and functions of the VPDs include to assist the police in the maintenance of law and order, peace and tranquillity when needed then to carry out patrol in the area allotted for the party to prevent theft, burglaries, dacoities and other unlawful activities for protection of public lives and properties and to prevent commission of crimes.


“So drugs come under the ambit of the duties and functions of these VDPs,” he said while adding that the VDPs will be adequately trained to tackle the issue of drug menace.


“We will be calling very shortly general meeting involving the various dorbar shnongs beginning with greater Shillong city,” the minister also informed.


Lyngdoh said, “It’s a gross misrepresentation of facts to say that government is not supporting, we are supporting as many as 9 deaddiction centres and also the deaddiction activities that are taking place for example the latest example is Mawlai where the community came forward to accommodate these users but all the facilities including food, stay and counselling was done entirely with the funding of the government through social welfare department.”


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