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Redemption ... Amidst The Drug Wars

by GURMEET KAUR

 

My fingers are trembling as I dial his number. I had promised him that I would call him in Punjab once I returned to the U.S.A. It would be perfect timing; he would be out of the Centre by then.

An entire month has passed following my return before I gather the courage to call Mahinder.

Of all the people at the Centre I had met, I had connected with him the most. Perhaps because he was a repeat. Perhaps, because I had successfully negotiated a huge redemption from him. He had promised me that, to every extent possible, he would undo his wrong-doings. We spent a good 3 hours talking ... and not a day has passed by since then that I don't think of Mahinder and his promise.

Today my expectations are flying high as I hold the phone, hoping to hear his voice - healthy, fighting the drug war, redeeming the hundreds of others in his district to which he introduced Smack/ heroin, that white angel of death. The odds were against hope that Mahinder had managed to succeed in keeping his promise; maybe that is why I had delayed making the phone call until this morning.

During my trip to Punjab this past summer, Dr. Balwant Singh Sekhon arranged for my teenage son, Angad Singh and I to visit the Akal De-addiction Center at Cheema in district Sangrur, Punjab.

"Biba Ji," he said to me, "you should visit and write about the drug issue in Punjab". Much has already been written about it I thought, what new information or perspective could I have to offer?

As I travelled on the road from Muktsar to Cheema, I did not realize that what was going to come out of this visit was not a story or a report but rather new bonds and connections of hearts. After our visit, as we returned to Muktsar, all Angad and I could talk about was our drowning brothers. We felt powerless to change a thing in their lives but the visit had surely changed us.

We prayed that they saw and understood the message in our sad parting eyes - "Please be well, our brothers; our nation needs you".

Bustling with devotional energy centered around the Gurdwara marking the janam asthan (birth place) of Sant Attar Singh Ji of Mastuana, Cheema is also a home to one of the oldest Akal Academies that is fighting the drug war at the grass roots level by instilling value based education and responsibility in the local youth. It is mind-blowing to see the ‘Desi Sharab Thekas' (Government licensed country alcohol shops) share the same street as the gurdwara and the academies not too far away from each other.

A silent war that the two opposing institutions have declared against each other; with the Akal De-addiction Centre as the DMZ (the Demilitarized Zone) where the two make peace with each other.

Complete with iron bars, armed Security guards and supervisory staff, the center gave us a nervous thrill; we had no idea what to expect when we entered. Whereas the vacant staring eyes of some of the inmates from within locked cells intimidated us, the sight and sounds of a recovering addict reciting from the Guru Granth Sahib in an adjacent room calmed our fears and put us to ease.

This experience marked my first encounter with drug addicts, some of whom were criminals in addition to their addiction. I had no idea about what I was going to write or whether any of them would even agree to speak with us.

In Angad Singh, I had the perfect helper. He quickly mingled, making the patients laugh with his awkward ways and accented Punjabi. In no time they were friendly and ready to share their stories. It was evident in their eyes that they begged only for acknowledgment in return and appreciation of the fact that they had taken steps toward bettering their lives ... bold steps indeed.

The hope I saw in their eyes was calming yet painful. I was told that even though this center has a high success rate, close to a quarter of them would relapse and, when they did, it would be far worse than before. A lot of the men were on a quick road to death as the 42-day program at the center came to an end.

The well qualified Dr. Sanjeev Kumar, the Medical Officer In-charge of the Centre first told us about their operations and activities, followed by an in-depth expose on the drug issue in Punjab, including demographics, causes, cures, social and anatomical effects, and more.

We were not only impressed with his knowledge, but the purity of his intentions to help this worthwhile cause clearly came through. When asked what promotes such an incredible success rate for the program, he summed it up simply yet powerfully by answering: "Spirituality, of course".

In addition to the Government mandated protocol, the center heavily supplements daily diet and exercise with an ayurvedic regimen designed to restore organ damage such as that of the kidneys, liver and lungs which tends to be common among substance abusers. There is individual, group, and family counselling service supervised by specialized psychologists.

"The real edge is provided by catharsis that takes place through meditation and reflection. We have a full gurbani-based regimen that inspires the inmates towards introspection and committed action," Dr. Sanjeev Kumar explained.

Baldev Singh - 45 years old, from Cheema - who now volunteers at the local gurdwara, testifies to the fact. He comes down every so often to motivate other patients; it was a joy to meet with the man responsible for many of the success stories. Ever since he has been drug free, the opportunity to contribute his time at the gurdwara and to counsel other patients at the Akal De-addiction Center has created a sense of sanctuary for Baldev.

"Success on the Edge" is what he calls his case. A Punjabi farmer following several generations before him, Baldev became addicted in his early 20's. The person who introduced him to opium was none other than his grandfather.

It is common for farmers and labourers in the region to use any of the easily available drugs (poppy husk, opium, even a tobacco and alcohol combination) for increased performance in the fields. At first it wasn't bad; he got married and had a child. But as it started getting worse, life became a living hell. He became unable to farm. He would steal family money and his married life soon became marred in daily quarrels. He started taking refuge in alcohol at night. The need for opium to rid of alcohol hangovers intensified and one day he found himself lifeless and near death.

It was then he was brought to the Centre, some three years ago. He rebelled by running away within the first three weeks. It was no surprise that he relapsed. His second admission was voluntary in May of 2008, at the invitation of a recovered alcoholic; this time it seems to have worked.

"This whole year has been very peaceful. No police cases, no family quarrels, more money for the necessities", he explains. Yet, Baldev is not a worry-free man. His son is 16 years old and during the time Baldev was in and out of prisons and rehab centres, his son dropped out of school. Baldev constantly worries about the dark shadows that surround both him and his son, waiting to pounce on them at a weak moment.

The land Baldev worked on was contracted out by his brothers for the period in which he was away and although there is income to get by, there is no real purpose in life for him other than acting as a watch dog protecting his son.

"That's why I call my situation a ‘success story on the edge‘. Getting hooked on drugs is a sure death warrant", he told me. "If you do drugs, they will eventually kill you; and until you quit for good, you experience death over and over".

I have hope that Baldev will be okay but I wasn't so sure about Sarab from Delhi who was a successful business man until he found himself in a repeat of a drunken violent rage, beating his wife and children and getting into trouble with the law. The guilt on his face was clear and pleading.

"All I want to do is get better and get my family back. Do you know my son is about your son's age and I almost killed him?" he asked me with tears in his eyes.

Whereas poppy husk (bhukki), tobacco (tambaku), opium (afeem) and smack (charas) engulf Punjabi villages especially those of the working farmers, the very legal weapon of mass destruction, alcohol, is silently drowning the lives of the elite as well.

Alcohol consumption has become a very acceptable thing in Punjabi circles and as the business man Sarab says, what are the chances he will not relapse? How long can he stay away from alcohol, I wondered. Close to half the addicts in the Centre are abusers of two perfectly legal substances - alcohol and tobacco.

When Mahinder said that tobacco was the first thing he got hooked to, I posed an obvious question: "Since when did it become acceptable for Sikhs to chew tobacco"?

"Ever since it became acceptable for them to gulp alcohol!" my teenage assistant interrupted me.

If alcohol and tobacco are easily available at every corner in Punjab, smack and opium are not far away and nearly as easy to obtain.

Shockingly, Mahinder's latest smack supplier is a elderly woman from his village and, with the assistance of Mahinder's family, I was able to speak with her. She reiterated the question when reminded of the ethical values. "When everybody from the Ministers in India to the local contractor draw their salaries off of the "thekas" (alcohol shops), why can't I provide for my family with a few poorries (packets) of charas?" she countered, "what's the difference, Bibi? They both kill".

I had no answer for her.

There are other legal options for the more sophisticated. A trend among young college-bound boys and girls finds the use of synthetic derivatives of opium which are much cheaper, easily available at both chemist shops and drug peddlers. Morphine is also readily available without prescription. Lomotil (Di-phenoxlylate) has the same effect as opium and is legally available everywhere.

It takes only seven days to get addicted. Just as with opium and heroin, side-effects including headaches, palpitations, restlessness, loss of appetite, mood swings, aggressiveness, and diarrhea will become increasingly severe until more of the drug is consumed.

The Akal De-addiction Centre sees all kinds of addictions in all ages and education levels. Since it serves mostly the rural population, the Centre's patients comprise mostly males. Just in the month of June during our visit, the Centre admitted 39 men of varios ages. The popularity of the Centre with its affordable cost and high success rate approaching 80% has driven growth (primarily through word-of-mouth) beyond its intended capacity. However, since there are minimal rehabilitation services at the Centre, many patients succumb back to their old debilitating lifestyle as they return to the same environment and influences that reclaim them faster than any follow-up volunteer from the center is able to.

Dr. Sanjeev Kumar attributes the reason for drug prevalence in Punjab to many factors such as peer pressure, easy availability, pleasure seeking attitude, elevated workloads, inability to deal with social issues, but he does not deny that political reasons such as high unemployment rate and post 1984 blues have played a big role.

"Ultimately, it all comes down to money", he says, "alcohol and the drug business are the easiest ways to get rich". The profits are very attractive and the risks in peddling are few. One poorrie of smack can be purchased for Rs. 20 (40 cents U.S.) in Delhi. It is so easily accessible that the villagers make routine trips to get them. They then resell the poorries for Rs.100 ($ U.S. 2.00)each. Payments as little as 10K/year in bribes to officials ensure the traffickers can go about their business uninterrupted.

This desire to get rich quick got young Mahinder into drug dealing, but before long the money fizzled out in court cases and treatment centers. I wondered how his wife and children were handling it all.

So here I was at my home in the U.S.A., making the call I told him I would. My heart was beating fast in anticipation.

After a couple of rings, the phone was answered with a burst of enthusiasm at his home in Mansa. I introduced myself to his mother who then handed the phone to Preeti, Mahinder's wife.

She started as if she had always known me and was waiting for the call; I too felt surprisingly close to her. "He said you'd call ... He spoke about you and the promise he made. He was so excited when he got back from the Centre. The Centre did a really good job. His health improved much, his complexion ... like it used to be ..."

I was relieved to hear it all and now I wanted to hear his voice even more. But her voice seemed like she wanted to cling to me and never let go of the call, so I just listened as I tried to picture her on the other end; a beautiful young woman, educated and intelligent. I recalled how Mahinder had a spark in his eyes when he spoke about his beloved and how they were madly in love with each other and got married without the families' consent.

A handsome national level soccer player studying Physical Education in college, Mahinder couldn't wait to return to her in Punjab and marry her as he finished his degree at the University of Nagpur. Sadly, by the time he was finishing college, he was already hooked on tobacco; smack was not far behind, introduced to him by his ‘friends'. He was in the early stages then, and she suspected as much, even before they married.

But she was in love. Shortly after their marriage, he and a friend introduced hundreds if not thousands in the Mansa district to smack. Mahinder made a lot of money. He wanted to give her the best.

"He said he wanted to help other addicts. He came back with a mission but then one evening his friend called him ... That's all it took! Sister, maybe you can bring him back! Please, call him! He is in a Centre in Mullanpur at this number. He'll listen to you ... you never know what will bring him back ... Please!" she pleaded persistently.

The trembling in my fingers spread to the rest of the body. My throat parched and it seemed to take all my strength to hold the phone to my ear.

Her voice told me she was still in love with him, so desperate to have him back. Taking care of his parents, their children and dealing with his addiction, treatments and remissions, she embodies a typical Punjabi woman's life; her only dream and aspiration is to get her husband back from this death trap.

"We have not left any center in Punjab - Mohali, Chandigarh, Bathinda, Patiala, Cheema ... he has been everywhere. This time it was extremely severe because he did 20 bits of smack, all at once. He fell unconscious, turned white and his eyes rolled over. I thought I had lost him ... but he is alive and I am not giving up. Please tell him that his family needs him ... Will you?" she begged.

I could hear her children of seven and four years screaming in the background, hoping it was their father on the phone and wanting to talk to him. She eventually fell silent, not sure if I was still on the other end. The quite moments felt heavy as if the whole family had suspended their lives in a hope to get him back, to will him back - the one who had slipped yet again to even deeper depths and they hoped a stranger far away had some kind of power to help.

"You cannot rest until you help all those people you caused to become addicted to smack", I had said when we were saying our good byes at the Centre, and he had agreed. Perhaps the redemption I had negotiated with him was too heavy for him to bear. Perhaps, he was only serving his destiny ...

I did not have the strength to call the other two numbers.

 

[The Akal Charitable De-addiction Centre is a non-profit center run by the Kalgidhar Society (www.barusahib.org). Any substance abuser with a positive identification is eligible for treatment. The Center can be reached by calling (91)-1676-284272.]

The names of the patients have been changed to protect their privacy.

September 4, 2009

Conversation about this article

1: Mlle. S. (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), September 04, 2009, 10:09 AM.

Dear Friend, I know you, and I know you will call him one day. You never rest when you think you can help ... If he, in turn, helps one friend, it will have been worth it.

2: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), September 04, 2009, 10:25 AM.

Gurmeet, you have brought to us a vignette of real life in sharp focus. Your feelings and honest concern show beautifully. In this issue of addiction in Punjab, you have got the tiger by the tail. Keep the faith, is all I can say. Thank you.

3: Sukhmandir Kaur , September 04, 2009, 11:26 AM.

You are very brave, Bhainji, to get caught up in this cycle of addiction and affliction.

4: Tejinder Singh (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), September 04, 2009, 12:14 PM.

This is not even the tip of iceberg. The situation is hopeless, I am told. However, you write well. Keep trying.

5: Sameep Singh (Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A.), September 04, 2009, 12:29 PM.

Thanks for sharing the issue with us. Angad and his mother covered the issue effecting thousands of families all over Punjab by personally meeting with them.

6: Arvinder Singh Kang (Oxford, MS, U.S.A.), September 04, 2009, 1:48 PM.

A very very sad story, beautifully narrated. As per one last year's report, similar is the situation of every fourth Punjabi. Also according to UNODC, Punjab is the world's No. 1 transit point for opium. However, who are the living models that kids and ordinary folk living in villages, can look up to? The last time I picked up a Punjabi newspaper, it had nothing except the stories of politicos and Indian from abroad flaunting their power and wealth, without worrying about the long term consequences of their actions. A few years ago, when I was working in Goa, my mentor, a non-Punjabi, said: "What can become of Punjab - where libraries close down at 4 pm, and liquor shops remain open till midnight?"

7: Harinder (Bangalore, India), September 05, 2009, 3:36 AM.

I guess the concept of "Simple living without burning ambitions" will help these boys to look at life more philosophically and possibly without drugs. They must be encouraged to seek out living by simple and small things in life like by being a carpenter, electrician, mechanic for vehicles, aircraft, mason, labourer, etc., etc. Unfulfilled ambitions are reasons why people become drug addicts. All of us are not destined to leave an imprint on history.

8: Dr. Birinder Singh Ahluwalia (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), September 05, 2009, 7:27 AM.

Reema Anand directed and produced a film highlighting this problem in Punjab - "An Enemy Within" - which was shown at The Spinning Wheel Film Festival in Toronto, 2006-2007. The film depicts most aspects of this problem (the addicts, the addiction centres, complicity of the law enforcement agencies, etc., etc.) - a must-see film: Available from SWFFI at info@SpinningWheelToronto.net.]

9: J.S.Gill (U.S.A.), September 05, 2009, 8:22 AM.

We must appreciate the efforts of Gurmit Kaur ji. At the same time, we should also support The Kalgidhar Society so that it can do more and more to help our brothers and sisters. We can contribute our share to save these people:- https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=17647

10: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, U.S.A.), September 05, 2009, 10:30 AM.

Thanks for Gurmit Kaur ji for her efforts. Always, the sangat and gurdawara management try to down-play these kind of problems. Whenever any child or any family goes through this, most of us ignore this by saying "This is not my problem'" and no one offers help. I very well remember while working in Bihar, India when one of my supervisors (a Hindu) showed me an Indian Hindi magazine, "Dharamyoudh", with an article about the use of liquor in Punjab being the highest of all Indian states. Then he asked me whether Sikhism allowed drinking or the abuse of it. On the other hand, the Sikh governments in Punjab have opened liquor shops on every corner. Lessons must start from the very home of Sikhism. Look at Hardwar in Uttar Pradesh - no one can sell liquor in that town. Along with private organizations, the Punjab govt. must take some action to tackle the abuse of drugs and liquor.

11: Navdeep Singh (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), September 05, 2009, 2:14 PM.

I was recently in India for a 3-week trip. Just before I left India, one of my cousins died because of excessive consumption of liquor. He was hardly 47. Although his kids are grown up and will invariably settle down in a few years, his wife has been left behind to fend with life on her own. Hope others can learn some lessons from this story by Gurmeet bhen-ji ... if only they could read it!

12: Harinder (Banglaore, India), September 05, 2009, 10:33 PM.

God, in the game of life, keeps on applying filters and weeding out the weak amongst us.

13: Tejwant (U.S.A.), September 06, 2009, 5:20 PM.

Gurmeet and Angad, Thany you for bringing this heart-wrenching truth of Punjab and Sikhs to the front burner. One wonders where is the S.G.P.C. and why are they ignoring this self-created holocaust of Sikhi and its values? Why hasn't the Punjab Govt of Badal and his cronies done anything to salvage the lives of millions? Many questions and no answers, it seems. I commend your bravura and your efforts. One can only wonder how many more have to die of the addictions and how many more families are going to be ruined before the Punjab and the Central governments come to their senses by coming out of their own addicted stupor!

14: Kuldeep Singh (U.S.A.), September 07, 2009, 5:15 AM.

This is really a sad state of affairs in Punjab, the land of the Gurus. Punjab, the land of five rivers, now has a sixth river flowing through it, that of alcoholism and drug-addiction. We see patit Sikhs all over Punjab, who are also addicted to drugs and alcoholism. I have seen several turbaned Sikhs smoking and abusing alcohol in public places. There are very few organizations who are trying to seriously halt the flow of this sixth river. The people of Punjab should be thankful for the work being done by The Kalgidhar Trust, Baru Sahib, who have established several drug de-addiction centers in Punjab. By going through the article by Gurmeet Kaur, I have understood that their de-addiction centers are different. The patients are treated mainly by changing their behavioral pattern by diverting their attention towards spirituality. Instead of being treated purely with medicines, the spirituality factor works in a long way. I have heard that their success rate is 80%, which is much higher than the usual success rate (20%). The need of the hour is to give our Daswandh to these types of organizations. I think, by giving our Dasvandh to Baru Sahib, we can rest assured that our donated money goes into the right hands. We will be just wasting our hard-earned money if we keep on donating it without checking out the cause for which it will be used. We will be receiving the blessings of Waheguru and assesaan of the families of the cured patients. I hope, by helping our brothers and sisters in Punjab through the organizations like Baru Sahib, we can bring back the glory of our Punjab. We must all take the responsibility for the present situation in Punjab. However, we will also be partly responsible if our next generations continue to face the same scenario, or even worse than this.

15: Simran (Oceanside, U.S.A.), September 07, 2009, 11:04 AM.

Thank you for sharing the story! It is inspirational, though painful.

16: Abrar Qadir (Berkeley, U.S.A.), September 07, 2009, 2:37 PM.

Harinder from Bangalore has really hit on something that desis everywhere have become susceptible to. Insecurity in the face of more visible success of those around us.

17: N. Singh (Canada), September 07, 2009, 5:45 PM.

I hope that the Sikh Diaspora will begin to step forward and take on some of the responsibility of helping other Sikhs (mainly in the Punjab) who are less fortunate than themselves. After all, it is only a matter of a 'passport' that separates us from them ... this could have been one of us or our families if we had not been fortunate enough to be given opportunities to improve ourselves and get a better life. So we need to drop our arrogance and help them. Drug and alcohol abuse is just one problem. Last month, the British newspaper, The Observer, exposed the large increase in birth defects in Punjabi children due to government sponsored coal-fired power stations in the Punjab giving off lethal amounts of Uranium. The psychosis of fear and depression due to 1984; economic deprivation due to misgovernment and extreme discrimination has led to this problem. It is not God's way of weeding out the weak as suggested by Harinder in Bangalore but political strategies designed to destroy the spirit of a great and brave people.

18: G. Singh (New Delhi, India), September 08, 2009, 2:38 AM.

"This is not my problem" is the attitude of most of us. And this has led to the present catastrophe in Punjab. We must give out our Dasvandh for the needy people, and we must check before donating if our money is in the right hands. We should keep in mind that "Garib da moonh, Guru di golak". There are lots of rich Sikhs in India. But the love that Sikhs in the diaspora have for their brothers and sisters in Punjab is not seen in rich Sikhs in India. Even small earners in the diaspora are willing to donate for Punjab. I would rather donate to organizations like Baru Sahib than the millionaire committees, who are just ignoring the happenings in Punjab, and are just busy in political games. Now I feel that whatever I donated to such committees was a big mistake!

19: Meena (Delhi, India), September 08, 2009, 8:59 AM.

I'm sorry but it is absurd to suggest that it is the unfulfilled ambitions of these people that has led to drug addiction and that they should be encouraged to pursue lesser goals! It is the right of each man and woman to fulfill his or her dreams; to reach their highest potential; to lead their best life - that is not a sin! It is the role of the government and culture of the country to provide those opportunities equally to all people regardless of their religious beliefs and identity. In my travels, I have noticed that the most callous attitude towards those more unfortunate than ourselves often comes from people living in India, including Sikhs. This speaks to their mental evolution when you see them treating others badly and disregarding human life and potential.

20: N. Singh (Canada), September 09, 2009, 10:32 AM.

When I visited Punjab in 1986, I witnessed not only the devastation that was inflicted on the gurdwara in Patiala in 1984; saw the bullet marks on the walls; heard of the massive loss of life; but I also heard about drugs being made available at local schools and colleges in the area by undercover policemen. Drugs have existed in the India/Pakistan/Afghan from time immemorial and drug use by certain individuals is nothing new as there have always been certain individuals who are susceptible for one reason or another. However nothing on this scale has ever existed in the history of the Sikhs. It would appear that multiple strategies have been put in place by the Indian government to demoralize and destroy the spirit of the Sikhs. Overt strategies have included enforced disappearances; covert strategies include discrimination in employment and business; increased availability of drugs and alcohol to disenfranchised youth, encouraged use of banned pesticides and chemicals; the building of industrial plants in the Punjab giving off lethal chemicals; 'demonization' of Sikhs in the media to remove any sympathy that might exist from the world. These are all well thought out and planned strategies and we as Sikhs have been lax in recognizing and tackling these attacks.

21: Claudia Gaspar (Sao Paulo, SP (BRAZIL)), September 14, 2009, 6:15 AM.

It's hard, almost impossible to add anything meaningful to Gurmeet Kaur's latest article 'Redemption ... Amidst the Drug Wars': everything is already there. Gurmeet is an Operation BlueStar survivor and a witness of its aftermath. All those traumatic events shaped a woman with indelible character, portraying a Sikh in the fullest, a true warrior with her pen and sharp intelligence as her chosen weapons. She does not risk a superficial explanation about blaming Sikhs for saying goodbye to turbans and going in for haircuts as one triggering factor for alcohol and intoxicants consumption. The drug addiction phenomena are a combination of various factors, both social and economic, at play. During her recent trip to Punjab, she felt very close to how drug abuse and liquor consumption have reached unprecedented levels in the land that gave birth to sant-sipahis and the numinous experience of Akal Purakh. The drug addiction problem does take place when a person has a first contact with the addictive drug and tries it just once, for "the experience" of it. It turns out, though, that enjoying the drug's euphoric effect so much, in ensuing weeks and months he/she will use it again - and again. But in due time, when the person decides to quit, it's the moment when he/she realizes how difficult it is. Next step is to vow stopping using it. The brain, however, has a different agenda. It now demands more drugs. While the rational mind knows very well that the person shouldn't use it again, the brain overrides such warnings until finally the brain has become addicted to the drug. The drug use becomes beyond any control. It is compulsive. The fact is, drug addiction is a brain disease. While every type of drug of abuse has its own individual "trigger" for affecting or transforming the brain, many of the results of the transformation are strikingly similar regardless of the addictive drug that is used - and, of course, in each instance the result is compulsive use. But why are Sikhs, otherwise very dedicated to their religion, saying goodbye to turbans, going in for haircuts and becoming drug addicts? Is there a clear link between the mentioned behaviors? Scholars say it is a combination of various factors at play, both social and economic, implying a non sequitur conclusion. Drug abuse and liquor consumption in Punjab has reached unprecedented levels. Sikhism prohibits smoking and use of intoxicants. 'Smoking or taking drugs with a turban on one's head makes a Sikh feel guiltier of breaching his faith. The absence of his kesh and turban frees him from such qualms', according to Akal Takht jathedar Joginder Singh. To Gurmeet, the problem is much more complex and the best answer to cope with it is to boost Gurbani study, not mere repetition, and first and foremost to be imbued of the sangat spirit in every small step of our lives. For a behavioral brain disease, nothing better than a spiritual medicine coming from Guru Granth Sahib's stanzas.

22: Sanjeev Kumar Kaushik (India), September 17, 2009, 2:17 AM.

By telling this story, Sardarni Gurmeet kaur has done a commendable job. She is also, in fighting against social evils, a very daring and awesome writer ass well as a dedicated warrior. One can find drug addicts at every nook and corner of every city in the Punjab. The treatment of these type of chronic addicts is always very difficult. Every patient has similar painful stories to tell. We will have to fight against the drug menace with the blessngs of Waheguru. According to me, if someone wants to quit drugs, the only mantra is to seek Waheguru's "sharan". This mantra transforms lives very quickly with hundred percent results. We have hope against hope. We thank Gurmeet Kaur ji for her tireless efforts.

23: Bikram Singh (Kennesaw, Georgia, U.S.A.), September 21, 2009, 1:18 PM.

Gurmeet Kaur: You surprise us each time with the kinds of social issues/actions you take on. And how amazing it is, how you team up with Angad, the two of you stepping out of a conventional Sikh's comfort zones and braving and risking so much ... I hope one day you will write a book on "How to raise a Sikh child" or "How to be a Sikh Parent". Also, we would really like to know more about the subjects you have introduced in the "Redemption ..." story. Hope you will do a follow up?

24: HS (New York City, U.S.A.), September 29, 2009, 1:35 PM.

Thanks for reminding all of us that so much needs to be done continuously ... and the key is 'continuity' here. Every worker must replicate himself/herself, and then provide continuity of his/her sangat, even while one walks away.

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