With assembly polls round the corner, the election commission (EC) has started raiding chemists across the state to check distribution of habit-forming drugs.
The poll panel is of the view that such drugs could be used by parties to woo voters. The EC has formed three-member teams comprising representatives from narcotics control bureau (NCB) and state’s drug controller office and Punjab Police in all districts to raid chemist shops.
In a meeting with chief election commissioner (CEC) Dr Nasim Zaidi in October, political parties blamed each other for using these medicines along with other drugs during the polls.
Zaidi has instructed the state election office to deal with the problem of drugs distribution with an iron hand.
A former CEC SY Quraishi, under whom the 2012 assembly polls were held, had openly accepted drugs as a major problem in the state. A large quantity of drugs and habit-forming drugs were seized in Punjab during 2012 assembly and 2014 parliament polls (see box) “We have started this exercise much in advance and there is no scope of taking things lightly,” chief electoral officer, (CEO) Punjab VK Singh told HT.
A large quantity of alprazolem and tramadol tablets and corex cough syrup were seized from two shops in Jalandhar and Amloh, he added. The shop owners are facing punitive action.
The action will be intensified after the poll code comes into force.
Deputy election commissioner Sandeep Saxena is coming to Chandigarh on December 29 to check state’s preparedness to curb drug menace. Sources said he will give his feedback after which the announcement of polls is expected.