Mukhtiar Singh, a resident of Patti in Tarn Taran district of Punjab, is protesting against drug addiction in the state in a unique way. The 47-year-old, who lost his son to drug overdose on March 26, goes to the sub-divisional magistrate’s (SDM) office every time a drug addict dies. He then insists that the authorities there should list drugs as the cause of death in the person’s death certificate.
Mukhtiar feels that the number of people dying of drug abuse in Punjab is not clear because the reality is not recorded in death certificates.
Picture for representation only. Source: Flickr
“I had to forcefully write ‘heroin, smack injection’ separately in the application declaring my son’s death before the municipal council. Tell me which father will do this? They do not even want to accept that drugs led to my son’s death. But now my war has started and it will reach Delhi,” he told The Times of India.
The application that family members fill to inform the municipal councils about the death of a person, does not list drugs as a possible cause of death among the many other options like cigarette, bidi, hookah, alcohol, pregnancy, etc. According to TOI, some residents in the area allege that they were forced to list snakebite as the cause of death even after their family members were found with syringes piercing their arms.
Mukhtiar, who works as a linesman with Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd., wraps himself in the shroud that once draped his son’s corpse when going to the SDM’s office. He painted two shrouds with complaints against the state and the centre after his son’s death and tried to submit one to D S Sandhu, the Deputy Superintendent of Police in Patti, as a memorandum for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It read in Punjabi – “Prime minister, lakhs of youth of Punjab have died due to drug addiction. My son has also become its victim. I am sending this memorandum to you via administration, hoping that other youths of the state would be saved from drug addiction,”
Initially, when the police official refused to accept the shroud, asking him to write the memorandum on paper, Mukhtiar and his wife sat on dharna with their son’s body.
They also took the body out in a procession to draw attention to the problem of drug addiction. The police later accepted the cloth.
“It was a painful decision. All these years were painful. It is not easy to see your son dying every day in front of your eyes. I do not want any other father or mother to see this day. So I decided to demonstrate the body of my son in the streets of town so that every youth can see it and they can get what drug addiction do to you,” Mukhtiar Singh, who took on a 12-year-long battle to save his son, told Indian Express.