Even as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) held its 'anti-drugs dharnas' at three places to apparently counter its increasingly aggressive ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress added to the heat with parallel dharnas at district headquarters.
State Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa led the protest in Jalandhar and termed deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal's dharna at the Attari border near Amritsar a "political gimmick". Even as the SAD insisted the dharna was not against the Border Security Force (BSF) after reports to this effect, Bajwa said it did not befit a party to "demoralise" the BSF "after patronising the drug mafia for the past seven years".
State Congress vice-president Surinder Singh Sibia, who led the dharna at Amritsar, demanded Sukhbir's arrest for his "anti-national act" of holding the security forces responsible for the drug menace.
Reiterating a demand for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Bajwa insisted that the Enforcement Directorate was not well-equipped to investigate the money-laundering carried out by international drug cartels. Referring to the questioning of the state revenue minister, Bikram Singh Majithia, by the ED, Bajwa claimed, "Being a shrewd politician, CM Parkash Singh Badal is trying to shield son Sukhbir by putting Majithia at the front."
"Without political patronage, it was not possible for druglords to establish a flourishing trade worth `6,000 crore in Punjab which has affected a major chunk of the population," Bajwa remarked.
He added that the BJP, as a member of the ruling coalition in the state, was equally responsible for the rise of drug abuse. "If the Akalis are so annoyed with the central agencies guarding the border and think that they are victims of drug terrorism being ignored by the Centre, they should first ask Harsimrat Kaur Badal to resign from Modi's cabinet," he quipped.
Contrary to stance of Congress MP Captain Amarinder Singh, his wife and MLA Preneet Kaur too demanded a CBI probe into the drug case.
At many places, Congress leaders submitted memorandums to deputy commissioners.