A day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi raised the issue of drug abuse in the state, Lok Sabha member from Patiala Dr Dharamvira Gandhi put the blame for the menace on the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act passed by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1985.
Dr Gandhi said “the big and powerful drug mafia as we witness today” was created by provisions of the legislation. “Rajiv Gandhi’s elitist bias through the ban on the poor man’s intoxicants like cannabis, poppy husk and opium created a monopoly market with windfall profits that provided a fertile ground for the mafia to grow,” he said.
Criticising Rahul Gandhi for exploiting people’s misery for garnering votes in the upcoming assembly elections, the Patiala MP demanded a roadmap, and not a mere promise, for eradicating drug abuse in the state.
Insisting on amending the NDPS Act for decriminalising drug users and instead providing for their treatment as a victim, Dr Gandhi demanded government-monitored supply of poppy husk and opium to drug addicts.
“The ban on natural intoxicants created a space for chemical and synthetic drugs that are more addictive and harmful. Also, stringent provisions of the NDPS Act have left thousands of addicts languishing in jails, while failing to end the drug cartel, involving politicians, police and smugglers. Even Punjab jails have become a den of drug lords,” said the MP.