Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday paid rich tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev on Martyrs Day, with a vow to empower the youth and a clarion call to the citizens to join his government’s efforts to wipe out the menace of drugs from the state.Dedicating the historic occasion to youth empowerment, the Chief Minister also launched a unique initiative – DAPO (Drug Abuse Prevention Officer) - to engage with government employees and the citizens of Punjab in the ongoing fight against drugs.On the occasion during a state level function here at sharp 12 noon, as part of a state-wide oath-taking ceremony, Captain Amarinder Singh took the DAPO oath, and also administered it to other volunteers, thanking them for joining his government’s efforts to rid the state of the problem of drugs. The state cabinet ministers simultaneously administered the DAPO oath to volunteers in various district headquarters.Leading the campaign, Captain Amarinder Singh became the state’s first DAPO, with STF chief Harpreet Singh Sidhu handing over the DAPO Identity Card to him at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. The Chief Minister then carried the chain forward by presenting a similar card to Local Government Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and two citizen volunteers.
The Chief Minister later told the gathering that the DAPO programme, marking the Youth Empowerment Day, will involve engaging with dedicated volunteers to work in their localities in coordination with the local administration, police and STF. He disclosed that more than 4.25 lakh DAPO volunteers had already registered on the DAPO website as part of the campaign and more applications were likely to flow in.The Chief Minister appealed to one and all to become a part of the anti-drugs campaign of the government, pointing out that it was the collective responsibility of all to rescue youth from the clutches of drugs, which was destroying future generations. It was important for everyone to support the government in this fight against drugs in the interest of the state’s development and progress, he added.
The Chief Minister recalled his visit to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands post Tsunmai, where thousands of Punjabi freedom fighters had jailed for raising the banner of revolt against the British tyranny, and exhorted the people to take inspiration from their sacrifices.Referring to a demand for naming the Mohali International Airport after legendary martyr Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh, Captain Amarinder Singh said the Punjab Government had already taken up this issue with Government of India, and he would personally pursue the same.On the occasion, the Chief Minister laid a wreath at the statue of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh and also paid floral tributes at the memorial of the great martyr’s father, Sardar Kishan Singh.Captain Amarinder Singh also dedicated to the nation the Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh Memorial and Museum to commemorate the sacrifices of the great martyrs.Earlier, paying glowing tributes to the great sons of the soil, Navjot Singh Sidhu urged the youth to seek inspiration from their supreme sacrifice to imbibe themselves with the spirit of patriotism. He said that students in schools/colleges and even higher institutes of learning should be brought to the Memorial and Museum here at Khatkar Kalan to connect them with Punjab’s rich legacy of nationalism and patriotism.Sidhu requested the Chief Minister to formulate a policy for youth, who constitute 56 percent of the state’s total population, to provide them with quality education and gainful employment in order to control the trend of brain drain and bring youngsters back to their land.In his welcome address, Nawanshahr MLA Angad Singh complimented the Chief Minister and Punjab Government for launching the anti-drug campaign from the pious land of Khatkar Kalan on the Martyrdom day of Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. He said the move, aimed at empowering the youth, would go a long way in reviving the pristine glory of the state.Among the special invitees at the programme were the family members of Shaheed-E-Azam Bhagat Singh, including Abhey Singh Sandhu, Harjiwanpal Singh Gill, Jagjiwanpal Singh Gill, Kiranjit Sandhu, Manjeet Kaur, Anshuka and Anushpriya. Family members of Shaheed Sukhdev, including Ashok Thapar, Karan Thapar, Sandeep Thapar, Tribhuvan Thapar, Subhash Thapar and Vinod Thapar were also present.Prominent amongst others present on the occasion were MLAs Chaudhary Darshan Lal Mangupur, Dr. Raj Kumar Chabbewal and Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, former Ministers Joginder Singh Mann and Malkit Singh Dakha, ex-MLA Guriqbal Kaur, President Punjab Youth Congress Amarpreet Singh Lalli, besides Principal Secretary Cultural Affairs Vikas Pratap and Director Tourism Shivdular Singh Dhillon.