Akalis face heat over drug abuse in Punjab
An aggrieved father threw a bagful of syringes that, he says, were used by his drug-addict son, in front of Congress candidate Ravneet Bittu in Ludhiana, questioning the will of the politicians to curb the supply of drugs in Punjab.chandigarh Updated: Apr 18, 2014 10:58 IST
An aggrieved father threw a bagful of syringes that, he says, were used by his drug-addict son, in front of Congress candidate Ravneet Bittu in Ludhiana, questioning the will of the politicians to curb the supply of drugs in Punjab.
“My young son has become an addict owing to easy availability of drugs. He beats us and takes away every penny earned,” the villager from the outskirts of Ludhiana told Bittu during the election campaign.
SAD’s Manpreet Singh Ayali is even dubbed as “a supplier of drugs in Mullanpur Dakha” by Simarjit Bains, who left the SAD camp two months ago to contest as an independent.
Ludhiana is no exception as the candidates can’t afford to skip the drugs issue in all 13 Lok Sabha constituencies, be it Gurdaspur at the border or Bathinda in the south.
The SAD-BJP candidates have been pointing out to the crossborder smuggling into Punjab as a counter-argument, with 136 kg of heroin seized in 45 days in March-April, but the ruling coalition fails to explain the domestic supply and consumption of opium and smack.
And here lies the menace, the supply and consumption, for the voters, in which the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidates eventually find the fodder to garner votes.
“Who are the traders of drugs?” asked AAP star campaigner Arvind Kejriwal in his speech at Sangrur on April 13. “Majithia,” the gathering replied. “Who is Majithia?” Kejriwal asked. “Brother-in-law of Sukhbir Badal,” the crowd replied. “You know the truth, still you voted them in the last elections (2012 state assembly polls),” he concluded with a smile.
Ludhiana’s suburbs were no different for Kejriwal where he said: “I also came to know that Majithia invested his drug money in elections.” AAP’s HS Phoolka in Ludhiana is confronted by various groups demanding to know what he would do to tackle drug menace.
In Ferozepur, Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar faced women saying their children were getting hooked on to drugs. The villagers near Jalalabad were united in saying that smack was in supply in their area. Anandpur Sahib Congress candidate Ambika Soni demands CBI probe into drug mafia in Punjab, not trusting state police under Akali-BJP regime, after similar assertions by colleagues Jagmeet Brar and Partap Bajwa.
“We can provide de-addiction centres or clinics, but the root cause of the problem is the availability of drugs that needs to be curbed,” Soni told HT.
“People here say about 60% of the population is addicted to drugs or other intoxicants (habit-
forming capsules),” she said.
SAD candidate Harsimrat Badal in Bathinda has a counterargument, “The Centre is ruining Punjab as it is not controlling the supply of drugs from across the border with Pakistan.” The seizures of drugs within the state, she said, were on the rise since the SAD-BJP came to power.
Harsimrat, however, does not face a direct accusation against her brother Bikram Majithia in Bathinda, where her rival Manpreet Badal is cautious not to name any particular SAD leader.
For BJP’s Arun Jaitley in Amritsar, the Centre was not providing proper vigilance along the international border to curb the smuggling of narcotics. “Increasing unemployment is another reason for drug problem,” Jaitley told a media briefing two days ago.