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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

Despite blame on ally, Jaitley confronts drug menace

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 19, 2014
First Published: 08:16 IST(19/4/2014) | Last Updated: 11:31 IST(19/4/2014)

With drug addiction among Punjab youth becoming a hot election topic, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley is not mincing words on the issue in the course of his campaign for the Amritsar seat, even though his political partners, particularly some senior Akali leaders, are accused of encouraging the illicit trade.

As Jaitely put it on his blog on Friday, “Yesterday, I was addressing a public meeting at Rajasansi. The loudest cheer was reserved for a comment made against drug addiction in the state. Enthusiastic applause came from that section of the audiences where a large number of women were seated. This explains it all.”

Jaitley’s stand is that drugs are not grown in Punjab. Narcotics are smuggled from across the border. Some indigenous drugs cultivated in Rajasthan are also made available.

“There is no solution to this problem except strictest of enforcement. All drug availability must be cut out at its very source. The borders have to be completely sealed to make it impossible for anyone to smuggle drugs in the state.

Even in inter-state travel from other states, strict enforcement has to be undertaken. This may involve harassment of some but that is unavoidable. Narcotic terrorism is the new form of insurgency. It should be dealt with accordingly,’ he said.

In the areas bordering Pakistan, Jaitley acknowledged drug trafficking was rampant. “A large number of youngsters start with the thrill of experimentation and eventually become drug addicts.

Wherever I travelled during campaigning, many people have expressed concern on the issue. Several families have been destroyed due to this problem. The potential of young men has been damaged. The social fabric of society has suffered badly.”

More importantly, Jaitley did not absolve the central and state governments of blame. “Even though it is primarily the responsibility of every family to inculcate such values in the children that keep them away from the forbidden path, nonetheless, governments cannot abdicate their responsibility in this matter.

Both central and state governments have an onerous responsibility to discharge.”

A tight vigil along the border which prevents availability of narcotics, Jaitley said, is the prime responsibility of the governments.

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