by Florine Roche
Amritsar, Mar 30 : When Neha Shoree, a young lady officer of the Punjab government’s Food and Drugs Administration had cancelled the license of the chemist shop owned by one Balvindar Singh of Mohali in Punjab in 2009 little did she realize that she will have to pay with her life for her brave act. Ten years after her bold action of cancelling Bulvinder’s license reportedly after she found intoxicant drugs in his shop in Morinda, Neha Shoree became a victim of the bullets pumped by Balvinder Singh . Neha was shot dead inside her office in broad daylight on March 29, 2019 as an act of revenge by Balvinder Singh.
According to police Neha had discovered 35 types of tablets in Balvinder’s shop when she raided his shop in 2009. These drugs are mainly used by addicts and when Balvinder could not show proper documents for these drugs Neha had cancelled his license.
Shoree was posted with the Drug and Food Chemical Laboratory and was dealing with licensing in Mohali and Ropar districts of Punjab. Her death has sent shockwaves across Punjab and across the country and is a big setback to upright officers in the discharge of their duties as public servants. It is also a big setback to all those who are fighting assiduously to put an end to the drug menace in the state of Punjab.
On Friday, March 29, Bulvinder entered her office at about 11.30 am and shot her twice in the presence of her 5 year old niece Aradhya. Sources say that Balvinder shouted “happy Holi” when he fired two bullets at Neha. On hearing the gunshots the office staff rushed to her room and rushed her to the hospital where she was declared brought dead.
Eye witness recount that Balvinder had entered the office at around 11.20 am. He directly entered Neha’s cabin and sat there for a while. When the colleagues heard the gunshots they entered her room. She was shot on the chest and on the temple and had collapsed on the floor. Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has ordered the state police to carry out a speedy probe into the cold blooded murder of Neha Shoree.
Bulvinder Singh, 45, who tried to flee on his motorcycle after committing the dastardly act rammed into an electric pole in the ensuing melee. Her colleagues stated that when they chased him he threatened to shoot them as well. When he was nabbed by people he shot himself with the same weapon which he used to kill Neha. He was rushed to the hospital but was declared brought dead.
Neha’s death once again brings to the forefront the rampant drug menace afflicting Punjab which was highlighted in the Hindi film Udta Punjab, giving us a glimpse of the widely prevalent drug menace and the conspiracies surrounding it.
Neha was a trained medical professional (MBBS) and was working with the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) since 2007 after completing her MS in pharmaceutics from NIPER in Mohali. She is survived by her husband, Varun Monga, a private bank employee whom she married three ago and also her two year old daughter. According to sources, Neha was no-nonsense officer whose honesty and devotion to duty helped uncover many incidents related to the state’s powerful drug mafia.
A Vivacious personality
Neha’s family was one of the earliest settlers in Sector 6, Panchukula. She was residing in the very same area in a rented house as her house where she lived with her mother –in- law was under renovation. Neighbours also recall that Neha was a warm and vivacious woman who always wished them on her way to the office. She used to commute to her office in a private cab after leaving her two year old daughter in her mother’s place in Sector 12 A.
It may be recalled that Capt Amarinder Singh had promised to crack the backbone of the drug mafia in the state when he won the elections in 2017. As per the new rules all government employees are required to undergo drug test. The state government had given power to officials to deal with the drug peddlers and had increased punishment to offenders. It is also said that he called for a national drug policy to save the younger generation which failed to materialize.
The tragic death of Neha is a grim reminder of Punjab’s drug menace which has affected a large number of youth and even the educated and women have fallen prey to the lure of drugs. Drug consumption in Punjab is three times the national average and that shows that the drug mafia is strong and thriving in the state. As per available statistics in 2017 alone police had arrested about 13,000 people in drug related offenses. Over lakh people received treatment to drug related problems.
It is sad that a valiant and sincere officer Neha lost her life in her initiative to curb the menace of drugs. It is also unfortunate that Punjab which got rid of terrorism is facing narcotic terrorism which is crippling its brave populace. The problem needs to be curbed with an iron hand so that other fearless officers don’t meet the same fate as that of Neha Shoree.