All political parties in state should join hands to tackle the drug menace

  • HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh/Amritsar/Bathinda
  • Updated: Jan 11, 2015 18:38 IST

Political parties should stop the blame game on the issue that is bringing the state a bad name. People must be made aware of the ill-effects of drugs; there ought to be zero tolerance against those indulging in drug peddling; and the Centre needs to make tougher laws to deal with the matter, opine various leaders.

Sukhbir Badal, deputy chief minister

Don’t play politics on the issue

The drug issue has been blown out of proportion. It is not as serious as it has been made out to be. The perception that the drugs (heroin) being pushed from across the border are consumed in Punjab is contrary to the facts and ground reality.

The BSF is the first line of defence. Then comes the role of Punjab Police. We should seal our border with Pakistan the way America did along its border with Mexico. This is not rocket science, the thing that is needed is will. We should use technology. Censors and CCTV cameras must be installed across the border.

Political parties should stop the blame game. Politics should not be played over such issues. It’s a question of the honour of Punjab. By accusing one another, the political parties are feeding wrong information to the nation. All political parties and people must join hands to wage a war against the menace.

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Sunil Jakhar, leader of opposition

Deras doing a laudable job

In my area, the Abohar-Balluana belt is badly affected. It is not just poor sections who are doing drugs. Look at the disproportionate number of chemist shops in villages -- there are two to three in every village which are indulging in sale of synthetic drugs.

The first step the state needs to take is clean its slate as Punjab’s political economy is running on drug money. The deadly mix of politics, elections and money has created a vicious cycle. To deal with the menace, one has to cleanse the political system. The Punjab Police is supposed to share all arrests and seizures related to drugs with the BSF.

Our role as a responsible opposition is to prevent the government from diverting attention from the issue. Its ministers have been summoned for interrogation and it is now trying to shift the blame to the border forces. Society, too, has to play its role. The deras in Punjab are doing a laudable job in eradicating the menace.

Anil Joshi, local bodies minister

Must adopt zero tolerance

The drug problem is very serious in Punjab. This is the reason it became a big issue in the Lok Sabha elections. The drug issue revolved around the entire election, and looking at the feedback, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his concern over the issue in the border state.

There needs to be mass-level awareness. Both the state and central governments must adopt zero tolerance towards it. No political shelter of any sort must be given, and there should be stricter laws, if possible. Though there are several challenges before the governments, eradicating the drug menace must be the top priority.

Society can play an active role. People can launch a major awareness campaign and also encourage the youth to get rid of drugs. As far as political parties are concerned, there is a need that politicians do not indulge in blame game and rise above party politics to fight against the drug issue. We need to work as a cohesive unit to save the youth.

ALSO READ:Drugs a serious problem, deal with it seriously and salvage Punjab’s image

Hardev Singh Arshi, CPI leader

All-party meeting should be called

Though the entire country is facing the problem of drugs, its gravity is much higher in Punjab. Now after the ED summoned Bikram Majithia for questioning, the state government is crying foul that the state is being defamed.

The Centre must come up with a comprehensive legislation banning cultivation of narcotics in all states and strengthen the set-up to check drug infiltration from across the border. Drugs are being circulated in Punjab under the nexus of police-politicians and drug peddlers. The circulation of drugs can’t be checked until this nexus is broken.

No major political party seems to be serious on this issue as they are busy doing politics. The state government should build trust among other political parties by taking tangible steps to tackle the scourge. Once the state government shows sincerity in fighting against the menace, other political parties should also cooperate.

ALSO READ: Debating the issue

Kiranjyot Kaur, SGPC member

Restore confidence of police

The drug use in Punjab has increased over time. The increase in petty crime is attributed to drug abusers. The number of marriages falling apart due to one spouse being a drug addict is on the increase. The most worrying aspect is young girls taking to drugs.

The confidence of police needs to be restored by making them accountable and free from political interference. All policemen and government officers should undergo narco test compulsorily. The government needs to make the law stricter, and more importantly, ensure implementation.

Political parties should insist on their members steering clear of shady characters and also desisting from distributing intoxicants to lure voters. Political parties should bring back moral education in schools. Society should also help in creating awareness against drug abuse by forming non-government organisations and working together.

Harry Baweja, filmmaker

Ruling parties should take charge

The drug problem in Punjab is quite grave and complex. Basically, a lot of easy money is coming through land appreciation which is filling up the bank accounts of big agriculturists and making their lads idle. This idleness in Punjab is backing up the drug abuse.

Despite knowing the entire situation of drug crisis in Punjab, I wonder, what are the government intelligence agencies waiting for? Is it difficult for them to curb the menace? The state government should make it mandatory for every cinema hall in Punjab to screen a two-minute-long teaser on the after-effects of drug addiction.

Today, Punjab is known for maximum alcohol consumption, drug peddlers and drug users. It is a shameful situation; ruling political parties should take charge of the situation as society alone cannot chase the drug mafia and end it. The solution to the problem lies with the authorities.

Compiled by Pawan Sharma, Sukhdeep Kaur, Aseem Bassi, Sachin Sharma, Harkirat Singh and Usmeet Kaur.

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