SARATHI refutes allegations made by SDF spokesperson Arun Limboo
SARATHI, an organization started by the Chief Minister P.S. Golay with a dream to make Sikkim free of drug and substance abuse. It has three main objectives
• Anti drugs
• Suicide prevention
• Implication of moral values.
Following the statements made in the press conference on October 9th 2022, by SDF spokesperson Arun Limboo, SARATHI addressed a press conference of their own to answer back to the allegations made against them.
Bishal Sharma, General Secretary, East District, SARATHI responded to claims about how, under the current government there has not been any initiative towards the fight against drugs in the state and the NCB report of 2019 shared by Arun Limboo. He responded by saying that the report is an accumulated data of 2017 and 2018 together only published in 2019.
He then spoke about SAATHI, a similar organization as SARATHI in terms of objectives, launched in 2013 and has spread awareness to about 1 lakh students as said by Arun Limboo. Bishal Sharma said that SAATHI was only an “Input Project” and there was no output hence he deemed it as a failure of a project. He also said that SARATHI will be different in terms of approach to cure addiction in not only schools and colleges but communities and families as well.
To the claims, that there has not been any sort of initiative against drugs by the present government since three and a half years made by Arun Limboo, here is what he had to say. SARATHI have been voluntarily contributing to Nasha Mukt Bharat, a mission initiated by the Prime Minister of India against drug abuse nationwide, and under Nasha Mukt Bharat they have already conducted awareness programs in 26 senior secondary and high secondary schools in Pakyong district during the month of June.
He added that he highly disagreed with the statements made by Arun Limboo, that there have been zero contribution against drug addiction by the present government.
Pravin Dhungel, General Secretary, SARATHI condemned the statements made by Arun Limboo, he said they were unnecessary and pointless.
He addressed the questions of Arun Limboo about the disposal of imposed drugs, why they had not been disposed till now, what if the government are misusing it and the impounded drugs worth 14 lakhs in Jorethang. He firstly started by stating that the drugs impounded by Jorethang SHO Niraj Khatiwoda were actually worth 25 lakhs and not 14 lakhs, and about the disposal of drugs he said that, the accused are currently under arrest, still undergoing trial and the as long as the case is not closed it is not possible to dispose the drugs.
Pravin Dhungel fired back at the claims that police were not vigilant enough under the current government by adding up that prior to 2019 there had only been 7 SADA cases registered at Jorethang, whereas now there have been 24 such registered cases. He also said that the police have now been given more freedom to work and do not require permission from higher authorites to arrest or raid anyone like during the years of the previous government.
He said that SARATHI focuses on curing addiction of users and peddlers as well because when arrests are made, it is our people that get arrested, lives of our youth get ruined. He also said that issues of the commnuity are not to be induldged with politics.
Rohit Raj Maharaj, Chief Resource Person, SARATHI, started off by giving a message to the Sikkimese people that, how narcotics, alcohol affect us and how it can harm our thinking, memory capacity and every aspect of us from mind to heart. He highly requests people to not fall for drugs and narcotics as it ruins relationships specially with families and ruins dreams. He mentioned reasons why people could fall for drugs, namely:
• Tensed state of mind
• Seek relief
• Pampered by parents
• Runaway from problems
• Due to relationships
• For fashion
• Pier pressure
• Sense of failure
• Family disputes
• Not being able to say no.
He said that SARATHI is a work oriented organisation and not word orientated, and they believe in work and not to wait for the result.
He thanked the Chief Minister P.S Golay for his efforts against drug abuse in the state by attending The Drug Trafficking and National Security, programme in Guwahti on October 8th 2022. He said it represented the CM’s heart and intention into making Sikkim free of the drug abuse and for the oppositon to make statements and claims doubting his efforts makes him disheartened.
He said SARATHI have conducted awareness programs in multiple college and schools, they also get invited by NGOs to conduct such programmes to people and communities. He promised that there will be vivid differences in the data outcome between SARATHI and SAATHI.
He said that members have been witnesses in helping the Police arrest drug-peddlers, and said that the police have been working against drugs even if the opposition don’t think so. He then said that the questions about the disposal of drugs will be given by the Police Department themselves.
To answer the claims that there has been an increase in drug abuse since SKM took over provided a data of SADA which showed the numbers of cases in the state year wise from 2017 to 2022.
In 2017 there were a total of 158 cases, in 2018 there were 113 cases. In 2019 post SKM government the number did come down to 79 cases. 43 cases in 2020, 40 cases in 2021 and 51 cases in 2022.