The newly passed “Narcotics Control Act 2018” will come into effect from December 27 and all the law enforcement agencies will join hands to collectively act against narcotics, said Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan yesterday.
Before, narcotics smugglers used to dodge the law enforcers' eyes or come out of jail using loopholes in the law but they will not get that opportunity in the new law, he added.
The minister was addressing a workshop on Narcotics Control Act 2018 at the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) headquarters in Dhaka as chief guest.
In the new law, there will be provision for death sentence or life-term imprisonment if anyone is found carrying more than 200 grams of yaba or more than 25 grams of heroin or cocaine, he said.
The minister said new narcotics are coming into the country from the neighbouring ones and youths are becoming its biggest victims. The numbers of (narcotics) users are also rising, he said.
At least three out of 100 people in Bangladesh consume narcotics, the first ever official survey of the country revealed. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) published the report recently after a yearlong survey, from July 2017 to June 2018.
According to the report, around 3.3 percent youths (in the age group 18 and above) are taking drugs, while the figure is one percent between the age group of 7-18.
“We have conducted the survey after collecting door-to-door data in seven divisions and the total number of participants were 19,662,” Prof Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed of NIMH told The Daily Star.
Presently, there are around 10.42 crore voters in the country, according to the Election Commission. As per the NIMH statistics, around 34.38 lakh people are taking drugs in the country.
The home minister further said they have already increased the strength of DNC and its manpower. Besides, steps are also being taken to increase their logistical support, he added.
“Earlier, we had no statistics on addicts. Now we got the information and we have no other option but to ensure treatment facilities for them,” said Jamal Uddin Ahmed, director general of DNC.
Besides the government rehabilitation centre, there are around 275 such private centres across the country, said the DG.
DG Jamal further said they have already updated the 50-bed government rehabilitation centre to a 100-bed one, where 24 beds are reserved for women.
At the workshop, Farid Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury, secretary to the ministry's security services division, was present as special guest.
The number of narcotics users is increasing every day, he said, stressing the need for taking necessary steps in this regard.
Department of Immigration and Passports DG Maj Gen Md Masud Rezwan, Ansar and VDP DG Maj Gen Kazi Sharif Kaikobad, Fire Service and Civil Defence DG Brigadier Gen Ali Ahmed Khan and Border Guard Bangladesh Additional DG Brigadier Gen Khondoker Farid Hassan also spoke at the event.
Representatives of different law enforcement agencies were also present at the workshop.