Punjab and Himachal Pradesh leaders crossed swords on the drug issue here on Sunday during the Hind Samachar Group function where hill state chief minister Virbhadra Singh was invited.
It was not the occasion to discuss this matter, and the initial speakers, including Punjab industries minister Madan Mohan Mittal, respected that, but when Bharatiya Janata Party leader Manoranjan Kalia referred to the Punjab Police findings about drugs being made in Himachal Pradesh, a blame game started.
Terming it unfortunate that Punjab had become a hub of drug supply without any major manufacturing, Kalia urged the Himachal Pradesh CM to check the functioning of the pharmaceutical companies in Baddi and Nalagarh areas especially.
Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa also demanded action from Virbhadra against the synthetic-drug units, though he also blamed the Akalis for the supply menace. Embarrassed, the Himachal Pradesh CM had enough when BJP MP from Hamirpur and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha president Anurag Thakur accused his government of taking no action.
Seeing Himachal Pradesh industries minister Mukesh Agnihotri at the function, the MP commented that in the minister’s Haroli (Una district) assembly constituency, drug abuse had killed two youths recently but the administration there was still soft on the peddlers. Angry at the remarks, Agnihotri, though not scheduled to speak, sought permission from the organisers to rebut.
“The BJP MP is trying to earn political brownie points. My constituency is a model of development and Anurag must check his facts. After two youths died, I transferred the entire police staff from the station concerned,” the minster claimed.
Former Delhi director general of police Kiran Bedi heaped more insult on the hill state, claiming it was the source of all drugs in the global market. “Ask a drug abuser what has happened to him, and he’ll say Himachali goli (pill),” she said. A few parts of Kullu district in the hill state are infamous for the production of opium and other natural drugs indeed.
Virbhadra termed all accusations unwarranted. “When Punjab has failed to control drug abuse, it has started accusing Himachal Pradesh. It’s unfortunate. We are neighbours; if Punjab is affected, can we stay untouched?” he said.
He said the Akali-BJP government in Punjab patronised drug trade. “Being a CM, I can tell you the trade cannot flourish without political protection. I advise Punjab to put own house in order first,” he added.