The Shiromani Akali Dal-led Punjab government on Friday lashed out at Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi for his statement that seven out of 10 youths in the state are addicted to drugs.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said in Patiala that the state needed no certificate from Rahul on any issue, even as he held the Congress-led central government responsible for drug addiction in Punjab.
He accused the Centre of "allowing" drug trafficking across international and state borders along Punjab, despite the state government's repeated requests to check the crime.
The CM said Rahul was misinformed on this count, adding that the Congress leader should have cross-checked the factual position from the Centre before issuing such provocative and half-baked statements.
Talking to mediapersons, Badal termed Rahul's statement "totally illogical, erroneous, politically motivated and a deliberate conspiracy to tarnish the image of our youth and an onslaught on their dignity."
"Rahul Gandhi should at least know that the Centre is directly responsible for guarding international borders, from where drugs are flowing. Drugs also come from Rajasthan, where the Congress government has allowed the sale of poppy husk. This indicates that the Centre is to blame for the drug menace in Punjab," the CM said, while advising Rahul to ask the Congress to stop the sale of drugs in Rajasthan.
Meanwhile, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said in Chandigarh on Friday that Rahul lacked knowledge about Punjab and his comments were insulting to youth of the state.
"If any amount of drugs are available in Punjab, it is because the central government's Border Security Force (BSF) is unable to control their flow from across the international border with Pakistan. So, before defaming Punjabi youth, the Congress must tighten border security," Sukhbir said after attending a conference on 'Power reforms for North India Target 24x7 electricity for all'.
Calling Rahul's statement immature, Sukhbir said it was an attempt to divert the focus from the Congress' "involvement" in various scams. He said drug recoveries by the Punjab Police during the past five years were more than 50% of the national recovery, indicating the total collapse of the BSF.
"The union government must properly seal the border with Pakistan to check the menace of smuggling of drugs, ammunitions and fake currency," Sukhbir suggested.
When asked about complaints of state Congress leaders on reduction of their security cover, Sukhbir said the matter was decided by a committee including representatives of central agencies, on the basis of each leader's threat perception. On reports that Punjab Police DIG (deputy inspector general) SK Asthana was having more security than his entitlement, the deputy CM said the officer would not be spared if found guilty.
Apologise to youth: BJP
Jalandhar: Bharatiya Janata Party's national executive member and state unit spokesman Manoranjan Kalia has demanded an apology from Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi for his "derogatory" statement that seven out of 10 youths in Punjab are drug addicts.
Kalia said such irresponsible remarks had shocked the youth of Punjab. "Punjabis are known for their hard work and bravery. Punjab's youth are committed and hard-working," he said. HTC
Media hype: Phillaur
When asked to comment on drug addiction in Punjab, jails and tourism minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur said in Ludhiana on Friday, "The drug problem has been hyped by the media. It has not spread to the extent of calling for daily discussions. But, we are working on making the laws stricter."