As the government in neighbouring Rajasthan has decided to close all vends selling poppy husk and opium, Patiala MP and suspended Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Dr Dharamvira Gandhi has asked the Punjab government to arrange for “regulated” supply of these items for addicts to save them from the drug mafia and also prevent their turn towards synthetic drugs. He asserted that people using opium were not criminals and “instead sick, in need of medical help”.
“The closing of bhukki vends by Rajasthan government shall bring about a humanitarian crisis upon drug users in Punjab. The already-active drug mafia will have a field day by making windfall profits through skyrocketing prices in the black market,” he argued. “If bhukki is out of reach for poor drug users, they shall be forced to resort to other synthetic drugs available. The families caught in a bind shall have to suffer financial crunch and drug users shall suffer deleterious effects on their heath,” he said in a press statement.
He suggested that the regulated supply be made through hospitals or other agencies “so that the vice-like grip of drug mafia does not push them into synthetic drugs and to the edge”.
He also said that after the “setback faced in the last Parliamentary elections”, the SAD-BJP ruling combine “in desperation, rode roughshod over bhukki and opium users, heaping such a calamity on them that they had to pay Rs 3500 for a kg of bhukki to mafia in the black market which they earlier used to buy in Rs 300”. “Misusing the provisions of the NDPS Act the Punjab Government threw thousands of drug users into jails as if they were criminals and many of them are still making rounds of courts,” he added.
Further, the MP feared that banning of poppy husk in Rajasthan “may turn that state into an extended market of synthetic drugs business, as has happened in Punjab because of the ban on opium and poppy husk under NDPS Act 1985”.