Punjab Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar on Sunday advised the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership that instead of staging dharnas along the border with Pakistan, they should go and discuss the drug issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and tell him that Punjab was being wrongly targeted on this issue.
Talking to the media on the eve of the SAD's proposed anti-drug dharnas, Jakhar pointed out that Modi had himself expressed grave concern on the drug addiction problem in Punjab.
The vote against the SAD-BJP alliance in the Lok Sabha elections, particularly in the Amritsar parliamentary constituency, was against the drug abuse and the alleged involvement of the ruling party leaders in drug trade, many of whom were now getting summons from the Enforcement Directorate (ED), he added.
"Why stage dharnas, go and meet the PM and clarify before him the allegations that are being levelled against the alleged involvement of Akali leaders in the drug trade. Tell the PM that we (Akalis) are wrongly being blamed and ask him not to tarnish the image of the Punjabis," he added.
State govt responsible for drug flow
The CLP leader flayed deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal for wrongly putting the blame on the Border Security Force (BSF) for the inflow of drugs into Punjab.
"This is a dangerous trend with a government putting the blame on security agencies and asking the public to demonstrate against these agencies," he said.
"Such a trend was witnessed in the Kashmir valley and now the Akalis are replicating it here. This can lead to serious problems, particularly security problems," he added.
Jakhar said that similarly it was unfair to blame the Rajasthan government for the flow of opium, poppy and poppy husk into Punjab. The poppy and poppy husk problem is not visible in Gujarat and Haryana which also share a common border with Rajasthan, he added.
"Once a drug enters Punjab, it comes into the domain of the Punjab Police. Sukhbir Badal, in his capacity as home minister of the state, must share responsibility for failing to control sale of drugs within the state," he added.
Jakhar claimed that the genesis of the poppy and poppy husk problem could be traced to Muktsar, the home district of the Badals. It was in this area that poppy husk first gained 'popularity', he added.
The CLP leader claimed that the Akalis will be alluring people to the dharnas on Monday with poppy husk and liquor. This is a common ploy of the Akalis to draw crowds, he added.
He also criticised the SAD leaders for taking the help of the administration for making arrangements for the dharnas.
Cong dharna at India Gate
To counter the SAD dharna at Attari, the district Congress unit will be staging a dharna against drugs at India Gate, that is near the life-sized statue of Sham Singh Attariwala, a general in the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Akalis heading for Attari will pass along the venue of the Congress dharna.
Though Jakhar will not be taking part in the counter dharna to be staged by his party but he reviewed the arrangements with the leaders of the rural unit of the the district Congress unit.
In its counter-dharna, the Congress will target the Akali leaders whose names have been linked to the drug trade.