gaon town has been on the boil with its denizens taking to the streets against alcoholism and drug mece. The people’s anger has spurred police and excise department officials to conduct drives against some drug dealers and bust their dens of operation. The protests snowballed after the horrendous gangrape of a Golaghat girl last week near the rail tracks at Islampatti in Khutikatia area. All five rapists were known bad characters in the locality, addicted to hooch and drugs. The brazen manner in which they thrashed the girl’s brother and abducted her touched a raw public nerve. Civil society and students groups have been blockading roads and NH 37, demanding arrest of all the rapists and protesting police iction against anti-social elements. Concerned citizens have pointed out that in Haibargaon, Borbazar, Morikolong, zirajaan, Mollapatti and many other places in and around gaon town, drugs business has been flourishing under the very nose of the police. As dusk falls, the atmosphere turns mecing as drug addicts take over the roads and terrorize law-abiding people. Filly, public exasperation boiled over after the May 5 gangrape incident, with allegations galore against cops about safeguarding anti-socials in return of ‘hafta’ or regular payoffs. There are also suspicions that some notorious drug dealers and crimils enjoy political patroge and therefore ‘are not to be touched’ by the police. Similar allegations have been voiced in Guwahati about drug dealing brazenly going on ‘under police protection’. At SK Bhuyan road near Dighalipukhuri in the heart of the capital city, it was public action against drug peddlers that at last forced the police to act in the last fortnight. Earlier, residents had been complaining for a year to the local police station, but to no avail. Meanwhile, the All Assam Students Union has decided to agitate from May 13 onwards across the State against the drugs mece. AASU leaders have pointed out how drug traffickers, even when caught, get away with little or no punishment. It speaks volumes about the law and order machinery of a State if it falls upon civil society and activists to take up cudgels against anti-socials. In Manipur, women have spearheaded movements against alcoholism, drug addiction and human rights violation by security forces. While a watchful populace can prevent many ills, it also comes with the risk of vigilante action and mob justice.