A delegation of Congress MLAs from Punjab on Tuesday met President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi to seek dismissal of the Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD-BJP government for a “political-drug mafia nexus” in the state, reiterating an oft-disputed statement that “seven out of 10 Punjab youths” are in the grip of drugs.
This figure had been stated by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi while addressing a student rally at Panjab University in October 2012, but the state regime had termed it an “insult of Punjabis”. While the Congress defended it saying that it was quoted in a 2009 affidavit by the Punjab government to the high court, deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal has underlined that it had been misinterpreted. The researcher who conducted the study has also said that he had only concluded of every 10 known addicts seven were youths.
On Tuesday, the MLAs’ delegation led by Congress Legislature Party leader Sunil Jakhar submitted a memorandum to Mukherjee which said, “Having Punjab suffered from extremism for almost two decades, it is again slipping into another cycle of lawlessness under the SAD-BJP government as the drug menace has reached an alarming proportion and one or the other narcotics — from opium to synthetic drugs — is available freely and affects about 70% of the youth in Punjab.”
The party claimed that that the menace had proliferated due to the drug mafia’s nexus with ministers, MLAs and party functionaries of the SAD-BJP. “At least three ministers of the government have been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate and other government agencies for their alleged role in the drug trade. The main accused has publicly named revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who is a close relative of the ruling Badal family,” the memorandum said.
It added, “During the winter session, Virsa Singh Valtoha, who is a chief parliamentary secretary, declared on the floor of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha that he was a terrorist, is still a terrorist and will continue to be one. He had the audacity to say in the presence of the CM who refused to take any action.”
The leaders said the SAD leadership under Sukhbir had organised dharnas at three places on the Indo-Pak border “against the Border Security Force, blaming it for the inflow of drugs into Punjab from Pakistan and Afghanistan”. “The open use of government machinery and direct involvement of senior officers in such an anti-national activity has made the role of state administration suspect.”
“The party (SAD) has now started to raise the so-called Panthic agenda of terrorism days which is a bid to destabilise the communal harmony in the state; we request your intervention to dismiss the present Punjab government with immediate effect to protect the life and security of citizens of Punjab, lest the state fall back into the dark days of terrorism,” said the delegation, which included MLAs Preneet Kaur, Brahm Mohindra, Kuljit Nagra, Sadhu Singh Dharamshot, Ajaib Singh Bhatti, Rana Gurjit Singh, Gurkirat Kotli, Balbir Sidhu, Parminder Singh Pinki and Guriqbal Kaur among others.