Suspended Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member of Parliament (MP) Dr Dharamvira Gandhi and party leader HS Phoolka, a Supreme Court lawyer, are not on the same page over ways to tackle the drug menace in Punjab.
Phoolka has issued a statement about approaching the apex court and the Election Commission to make dope test mandatory for politicians, even as the Patiala MP is advocating free availability of drugs in the state as a step towards curbing the menace.
Referring to the Chief Justice of India’s recent statement that “literally, drug peddlers and dealers have destroyed the youth of Punjab”, Phoolka said political leaders were controlling the drug trade in the state. He added that under the prevailing circumstances, it was necessary to ensure that politicians were not addicts themselves.
The SC lawyer termed Dr Gandhi’s idea as impractical. “Free availability of drugs will increase addiction in Punjab as the demand is already very high, thus it will not be a wise step. Such ideas work only under normal circumstances,” observed Phoolka.
Disagreeing with Phoolka, Dr Gandhi told Hindustan Times, “This is just an ornamental and supercilious statement which doesn’t have any substance as addiction to drugs is not a crime. I am advocating free availability of drugs based on my team’s six-month-long study of drug addiction in countries such as Portugal, Belgium, US and Canada. We reached the conclusion that decriminalisation of drug addicts and deregulation of recreational drugs such as opium and poppy husk is the need of the hour in Punjab.”
He also said that Phoolka’s ‘hollow’ words could not help the youth of Punjab in any way as addicts were not criminals, whereas the mafia comprising cops, politicians and drug peddlers needed to be taken to task.
“The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act has done more harm than good and I will take up the issue of making amendments in the Act during the winter session of Parliament. Various psychologists, doctors and lawyers are endorsing this viewpoint,” Dr Gandhi added.
Another AAP MP, Bhagwant Mann, under fire over his alleged habit of drinking, had on Wednesday challenged deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Punjab Congress leaders to undergo a dope test with him.