In a fresh move to confront its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), over the drug issue, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab on Sunday announced protest dharnas on January 5 along India-Pakistan border pickets “to pressurise the Border Security Force (BSF) to stop drugs entering from Pakistan”.
The move is being seen as a counter-offensive to the BJP’s plan to launch its anti drug campaign, led by party chief Amit Shah, in Punjab from January 12. Saffron party’s state unit chief Kamal Sharma has already demanded the resignation of Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia after the latter was summoned (and later quizzed) by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the drug racket probe.
“The SAD has decided to take the lead in the campaign for the eradication of drugs from India by organising four protest dharnas on the international border,” SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said in a statement here.
A dharna each is scheduled at Attari (Amritsar), Sadki checkpost at Fazilka, Hussainiwala and Gurdaspur along the international border.
“Punjab and the nation are suffering from the ill-effects of narco-terrorism due to continuous smuggling of narcotics from Pakistan into Punjab. The border is guarded by the BSF, a central agency over which we do not have any control. This smuggling must stop and the border with Pakistan must be completely sealed. Then only can we fight a national war against drugs,” Sukhbir stated.
He also announced that all dharnas would be peaceful. Sukhbir said Punjabis felt it was necessary to congregate at the border as they were being branded as drug addicts despite waging the nation’s fight against drugs. “If we had not taken a tough stand and not seized drugs, these would have travelled into India and created even more havoc,” he said.
The SAD president added, “It is because of us that the fight against drugs is entering a decisive phase in India.”
Sukhbir claimed that Punjab did not manufacture a single gram of drugs that were (actually) coming into the state from Pakistan or other states in India, including Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
“Now we want a cap on both these sources of drug production,” he added.
“Drug availability and consumption is prevalent in other states also but their governments have not been as vigilant as Punjab,” he added, citing a National Crime Report Bureau (NCRB) report that had acknowledged Punjab as “the best record as far as registering cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act were concerned.”
Sukhbir said as many as 16,464 cases had been registered under the NDPS Act in Punjab in comparison to only 55 registered by Goa and 756 by Maharashtra in 2013.
“Both Goa and Maharashtra are places known for rave parties and easy availability of drugs, indicating that many states have not taken adequate steps to curb drug addiction, as has been done by Punjab,” he added.