Facing strident criticism over large-scale substance abuse in Punjab, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Friday said the state government is fighting the "nation's war" against drug abuse.
"We have suffered a lot of pain in the past. First it was of partition, then militancy. Earlier we were labelled as terrorists and now they call us drug addicts," an anguished chief minister told the Indian diaspora at the 13th Pravasi
Bhartiya Divas event here.
Terming drug addiction a "national problem just like militancy," Badal said," We are waging the nation's war against drugs. Drugs come from outside, we in Punjab don't make it. We have caught drugs coming into India from other
states as well."
Widespread drug abuse, apart from being a matter of social concern, has also acquired political dimensions with both the BJP and Congress flagging the issue during the Lok Sabha poll.
The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal had earlier this month staged a dharna against the drug menace in the state near the International Border and pitched for "greater awareness" and "vigilance along the border with Pakistan".
Though initially SAD had announced that the sit-in was to put pressure on the Border Security Force to stop entry of drugs into the state from Pakistan, it later said the exercise was intended to create awareness about substance abuse.
Opposition Congress had also staged sit-ins the same day at the district headquarters demanding dismissal of the Punjab government for "inciting people against the security forces".
Besides demanding sealing of the International Border, SAD has been seeking a ban on cultivation of narcotics in states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to tackle drug abuse. Both these states are ruled by SAD's ally BJP.
BJP will also launch its own campaign against drug abuse on January 22 from Amritsar.