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health as it happens

Ludhiana: 109 placed in first-of-its-kind job fair for youth who overcame drug addiction - Hindustan Times

In a first, the district bureau of employment and enterprises (DBEE), Ludhiana, organised a job fair for youths who successfully overcame their drug addiction, on Wednesday.

Around 500 former drug addicts were shortlisted from various OOAT (out-patient opioid assisted treatment) clinics in Ludhiana to appear for the job interviews of nine companies. Of the 500, 142 turned up and as many as 109 secured job offers from these companies.

Meenakshi Sharma, deputy director, employment generation and training, Ludhiana, said this was a first-of-its-kind job fair for drug victims and it was held on a trial basis.

Punjab backward classes land development and finance corporation (Backfinco) vice-chairman Mohammad Gulab inaugurated the job fair.

A new lease of life

For those who participated in the job fair, it was an opportunity for a fresh start.

Varinder Singh, who claimed to have overcome his drug addiction problem six months ago, said, “I am happy to be here. I am ready to do any job even if it is that of a security guard. I would like to urge the youth of Punjab to not consume drugs as it would ruin their families.”

Another job aspirant, Jasbir Singh of Ludhiana, said, “It was not easy to get rid of the drug habit. I was treated for a long time. My family had to make a lot of sacrifices for me. I was ill-treated by the society. Finally, I am ready to lead a healthy life. I want to make my family proud as they have suffered a lot because of my drug problem. I am thankful to the health team and authorities here for helping me get a job.”

‘Hard to convince companies’

On the other hand, a placement officer at DBEE said it was not easy to convince companies to recruit these candidates even though they have now given up drugs.

“A few companies were initially reluctant to hire them as they were worried about their conduct at work, but eventually they agreed to give them a chance,” said Ghansham, the placement officer.

Interestingly, while authorities at DBEE claimed that fair was only for former drug addicts, a candidate Mohammad Rizwan, while talking to HT, said he was not a drug addict but a B-Pharmacy student. When asked, placement officer Ghansham said a few candidates turn up at every job fair to try their luck.

‘Cover-up mission’

Former Ludhiana MLA Maheshinder Singh Grewal, who owes allegiance to Shiromani Akali Dal, called the job fair a cover up mission. He blamed the Congress for the drug menace in Punjab and said the party was making false job promises ahead of elections.

“The Congress betrayed the people and turned a blind eye towards the drug menace in the state. Now that elections are round the corner, they have launched a cover-up mission to fool voters,” said Grewal.

Meanwhile, Ludhiana Congress MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu complimented the government’s efforts. “Our government was always committed to the people of the state and now this special initiative to give a new chance to former drug addicts is a good initiative,” said Ashu.