Drug users 'paraded naked', Drug Users Federation fumes
By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Apr 4 : Drug Users Federation for Human Rights and Justice has claimed that three drug users (recovering addicts) who have abstained from drug use for quite some time, were apprehended by members of Realize Rehabilitation Centre (RRC) and paraded naked in broad daylight on the pretext of searching for any drugs in their possession.
In a statement, the federation stated that the alleged incident took place at Koubru Leikha, Senapati on March 31 last at around 4 pm while the three former drug users were on their way back to Imphal after enjoying the Holi festival at Koubru Leikha.
Claiming that the former drug users were stopped in the middle of the road by members of the rehabilitation centre and began to search for drugs in their possession, it added that the centre’s staff forcibly made the recovering addicts take off their clothes.
The members of the rehab centre came in a car (Maruti 800).
Addressing media persons in this regard at the Keishamthong Hodam Leirak Machin, Sega Road office of Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE) today, the three victims informed that they were forcibly made to remove their clothes in the middle of the road by the staff and members of Realize Rehabilitation Centre on the pretext that they were searching for drugs in their possession.
The 'victims' also informed that such an act of human rights violation should be seriously dealt with and the authorities concerned should see that no such incidents recur. They also demanded stringent actions against the staff of the rehabilitation centre at the earliest.
Convenor of the Drug Users Federation for Human Rights and Justice, Salam Berlin who was also present during the press briefing informed that the federation intervened into the matter after a complaint was received from the victims.
He continued that a team of the federation visited the RRC yesterday and interacted with officials of the centre.
On reaching the centre, it was found that the centre had indulged in forccibly picking up drug users in the name of providing drug treatment facilities much against the wishes and consent of the drug users and their families, he alleged and claimed that the centre also engaged their staff (referred to as aftercare staff) as security guards and give them the liberty to physically assault any of the clients as and when desired.
The federation team also recovered many wooden sticks used in beating the clients at the centre, he added.
Berlin further informed that in the course of their forcible pick up activities they also used/misused several applications written to the district SPs/SP NAB and officers in charge of different police stations across the State seeking assistance in their bid to rehabilitate drug users.
Berlin, while mentioning that the officials of RRC admitted their fault during the meeting yesterday, said that the Social Welfare Department and all other departments concerned have been time and again apprised of the prevailing issue and human rights violation of the drug users community in and outside drug treatment centres.
However, since no necessary intervention has been made in this regard by the departments concerned “we will be compelled to take up stringent actions on our own accord, to the extent of closing down rehab centres and also drag all concerned to the Court very soon”, he warned. Moreover, various sorts of agitations including rally and sit-in-protests will also be carried out to draw the attention of the authority concerned, he added.