Beyond grave: Whether the situation in Punjab is exaggerated or understated, it is all a political blame game, and the winner is drug trade. What is ailing the state? To some it is the police-smuggler nexus and to others it is the flashy lifestyle of its youth. Do we confront other countries or own drug-growing states? Both, say leaders.
Sikander Singh Maluka, rural development minister
Let all MLAs say no to alcohol
In Punjab, the opposition parties have exaggerated it. The police enthusiasm in publicising the huge market value of the seized drugs hasn’t helped either. The situation in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is more serious; and even Himachal Pradesh has foreigners coming in only for drugs.
First, bring the addicts out of this habit so that the declining demand puts pressure on the suppliers. Then, prevent drug smuggling at all levels and create mass awareness. To save the young generation, we have to reach out to them in schools and colleges, which was my top priority during my stint as education minister of the state.
We have requested chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to convene an all-party meeting on the issue and we will get all involved in this battle. To start with, alllegislators who drink shouldsay no to liquor. Social andreligious organisations can also help by propagating the idea of alcohol-free family functionsand weddings.
Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former chief minister
Allow police to work freely
It has become very grave in the past seven to eight years because of many factors ranging from negligence to political patronage. The BJP anti-drug campaign in Punjab smacks of politics. The menace has become this grave during the Akali-BJP rule and now come to haunt them.
The Centre has to do its bitsincerely and not do politics over the issue. As for the state, the jathedars are running its ‘thanas’ (police stations). This political interference has to stop. The police, when given a free hand, eradicated terrorism from Punjab. Let them work freely again to weed out the menaceof drugs.
Like it fought dowry, society should battle drugs as well. From the youth and parents to social groups and political parties,everyone’s contribution is required. As an oppositionparty, we do our bit. Congressvice-president Rahul Gandhi was the first to flag the gravity of the issue; but to end the menace, all parties have to work together.
HS Phoolka, Aam Aadmi Party leader
Train an army of counsellors
UNODC (United Nations Offices for Drugs and Crimes) puts Punjab on top in the Indian list of states with maximum affected people. Different studies give us different percentage of population addicted to drugs and alcohol but almost each has a figure of more than 50 for Punjab.
I see no serious plan by the state or the Centre to tackle this problem. The supply and demand both have to be checked. The government-run de-addiction centers are almost defunct, without permanent doctor, or locked. You go to any village, even children will tell you openly who sells drugs and under the patronage of which leader.
The Aam Aadmi Party has been holding counselling camps for the addicts. Starting from Chhapaar Mela in Ludhiana, it plans to expand the scale of this campaign. We are training our workers to be good counsellors to addicts, their parents and friends. Schoolteachers can keep the students away from drugs by educating them about the harms.
Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief
Raise issue with Pak, Afghanistan
The drug menace has taken Punjab like an epidemic. Since the drugs are coming in from Afghanistan and Pakistan, these must be going into the other states as well where the demand is high. The problem should not be seen as state-specific but anuisance for the entire country.
The countering agencies do not work in coordination. If the state police seize a large consignment of drugs, those outside criticise them. The Centre and the state should work together to check smuggling within and at the border. Raise the issue with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal at international meets andpenalise states that grow drugs.
Geographically, Punjab is at a disadvantage, so one should not point fingers at it but think responsibly how to fight what is a menace for all states. This ancient land of saints and scholars need to reveal its glorious history to the youth so that they see what they are losing. Civil society and leaders should fight the evil, not each other.
Balbir Singh Seechewal, green activist
Cops alert mafia, embolden it
Heroin, opium and synthetic drugs are available freely. At Latianwal and Toti villages of Sultanpur Lodhi, drugs are sold without any fear of the law. The youth from other places visit these villages to get their supply. Even the police are aware of the fact but they take no action.
What has the government done till date? The authorities turn a blind eye, as the money from the cartel also goes into their pockets. If people approach the police with complaints against the smugglers, the cops alert the mafia. If the government wants to do something, it should just do its duty to the Constitution responsibly.
Parents should raise theirchildren well and keep tabs on their company and where they hang out. Politicians should work towards eradicating the problem instead of making false promises. Members of civil society should not elect a party that buys its votes with alcohol and drugs. Rather, society should boycott that political party.
Gurpreet Ghuggi,film and television actor
Flashy lifestyle ruining our youth
People say the problem in Punjab is alarming but I say it is deep-rooted. It is not just unemployment but also their unending desires that have led youth astray. Wadde kam di aukat nahi, chotte kam karne nahi (too small for big work, and too big for small jobs).
To eradicate the drug menace, the state government should involve volunteer organisations and back them financially. I read a study by a Hyderabad NGO that 75% of the youth in Punjab were on drugs. Ifselfless NGOs are given charge of the situation with goodbacking, they can bring this 75% to 7.5% in two years.
Catching four or five drugpeddlers won’t solve the problem. The plague will be eradicated only by a mass campaign. The success stories of reformed addicts need to be highlighted to inspire the new generation. The youngsters who have kicked the habit can be good counsellors. The love for flashy lifestyle is killing our youth.
Compiled by: Sachin Sharma, Sukhdeep Kaur, Anshu Seth, Nitindra Bandopadhyaya, Parampreet Narula and Usmeet Kaur.
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