Chemists in Punjab protest against "harassment" by police

Over 31,000 chemist and drug shops in Punjab remained shut on Thursday in protest against the alleged harassment caused by state police in its state-wide drive against drug menace.

PTI| Last Updated: Jun 12, 2014, 15:12 PM IST

Chandigarh: Over 31,000 chemist and drug shops in Punjab remained shut on Thursday in protest against the alleged harassment caused by state police in its state-wide drive against drug menace.

Punjab Chemists Association had given a call to shut down medical shops in order to express their anger against the state police for allegedly raiding their shops and arresting shop owners under the garb of selling narcotic drugs.
"Except in hospitals, all chemist shops in Punjab are closed today," Punjab Chemists Association president Surjit Mehta said today.

He said 31,470 drug shops are association`s members across the state.
"However, we have allowed shops in hospitals to continue with their operations so that patients do not suffer," he said.

Protesting chemists shop owners even took out rallies at several district headquarters and raised slogans against the state police and state government.

A report from Mohali said all the retail and wholesale chemists kept shutters of their establishments down in Mohali, Kharar, Kurali, Zirakpur, Dera Bassi and other parts of Mohali district.

Mehta alleged, "the chemists are being harassed by state police on the pretext of curbing the drug menace."

"If there is any suspicion about wrongdoing, then state government can ask competent authorities like drug inspectors to carry out checks at shops as drug officers are competent to do so. Cops lack competency in checking narcotic drugs," he claimed.

Mehta said the association members had even raised the matter with state health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani who had assured them of taking up the issue with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

"If within next 10 days, the state government will not stop police from harassing us, we will start chain hunger strike in front of Punjab CM`s house," Mehta said.

After drug racket in Punjab remained one of the major issues in Lok Sabha polls, the SAD-BJP led state government launched a major state-wide crackdown on drug peddlers to curb drug menace in the state.