Coinciding with Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia’s appearance before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as part of the probe into the drug racket, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) issued a statement on Friday, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the BJP government in Rajasthan to ban the sale of opium as neighbouring Punjab was suffering due to that government’s policy to earn profit from the sale of this narcotic commodity.
The move reflects the competitive politics between the allies on the drug issue, with the BJP set to launch its anti-drug campaign in Punjab from January 12.
Akali leaders Maheshinder Singh Grewal and Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said in a joint statement here that it was unfortunate that the Rajasthan government had licensed more than 17,000 opium vends. They said opium, which was available in the open in Rajasthan, was also being smuggled into Punjab.
“This is causing social unrest in Punjab and needs to be addressed immediately,” they said, adding that any law which encouraged addiction and even led to smuggling of opium to a neighbouring state should be rescinded immediately.
The SAD leaders also demanded that opium cultivation should also be halted in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as the contraband was finding its way into Punjab.
They also urged the Prime Minister to seal the international border with Pakistan, adding that even though the drugs were not produced in Punjab, they were entering the state from across the barbed-wire fencing with the neighbouring country. The leaders said since the international border was guarded by the Border Security Force (BSF), the Centre should take steps to stop drug trafficking from across the border. “This matter needs to be looked into and resolved quickly,” they added.