Udta Punjab effect? Dope test a must for 6 lakh wannabe cops



It’s a reality check like none other. The whole of July will see a whopping 6-lakh Punjab youths willingly undergo a five-drug dope test, a sample size large enough to hopefully settle the raging controversy over the fact and fiction about the drug problem in the state.

The exercise is, in fact, a part of a recruitment drive to appoint over 7,000 constables in the Punjab Police for which over 6-lakh aspirants have applied. For the first time the police have asked every candidate to undergo a drug addiction test before they undergo any kind of physical test to assess their suitability for the job. The health department in collaboration with Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Faridkot, will assist the district police chiefs to undertake the tests, using kits specially being procured for the recruitment.

The police recruitment dope test, the first-of-its-kind in India, comes at a time when the Akali government in the state is facing acute criticism over the issue of rampant drug addiction, escalated by the recent release of ‘Udta Punjab’, a Bollywood film based on the subject.
Politically, the results of these tests could end up either providing additional ammunition to the opposition or support the Akali claim that the drug issue has been blown out of proportion.
The fact that information about the dope test is part of the advertisement issued by the police has, however, not come in the way of the overwhelming response for these jobs. While over 4.7-lakh men have applied for over 6,000 posts, another 1.2-lakh women are contending for around 1,000 posts. Almost 40,000 aspirants have applied for these posts from other states as well. All the applicants are below the age of 28 years.

With recruitment of constables taking place after a gap of four years, and given the unexpected response, the police department is now gearing up for the herculean exercise. “It was initially being considered that only the finally selected candidates be subjected to the dope test. But then it was decided by the government that every candidate who comes for the recruitment would first have to take the dope test, and then go for physical tests,” said Punjab director general of police (DGP) Suresh Arora.
Other than army of doctors and health staff teams that will be deployed for over a month for the recruitment process, the dope test kits are costing the state government Rs 12 crore. A single kit can be used to test the presence of five drugs. Urine samples of the applicants will be taken on the spot and the results announced instantly. In case the applicant is found to have taken any drug, the application will be rejected.
“The modalities of the whole process are being worked out. The last date for receiving applications is June 21, and once we have all the applications, we will know how much manpower will be needed to start the process. Earlier, we had planned the recruitment will be carried out at seven police ranges.
Given the large number of applications, the recruitment will now take place at 27 police districts, including the three commissionerates,” said Arora.

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