Rajya Sabha MPs raise concern over ‘alarming’ drug menace in Punjab | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Rajya Sabha MPs raise concern over ‘alarming’ drug menace in Punjab

The problem of drug menace in Punjab came under the scanner of Rajya Sabha on Wednesday with members raising questions over the “alarming” number of cases and Congress demanding CBI probe into allegations against ministers of the ruling SAD-BJP combine in the state.

punjab Updated: Aug 03, 2016 16:23 IST
PTI
Senior Supreme Court lawyer KTS Tulsi (left) and minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju (right) at Parliament House during the monsoon session.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer KTS Tulsi (left) and minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju (right) at Parliament House during the monsoon session. (Photos: YouTube, PTI)

The problem of drug menace in Punjab came under the scanner of Rajya Sabha on Wednesday with members raising questions over the “alarming” number of cases and Congress demanding CBI probe into allegations against ministers of the ruling SAD-BJP combine in the state.

The government said it was taking steps to eradicate the menace, adding that mere taking of names is no basis for lodging prosecution.

During question hour, nominated member KTS Tulsi raised the issue saying the number of drug-related cases being reported from Punjab was disproportionately high and out of the 15 top districts on this count, 13 belonged to Punjab.

Read: Punjab indeed has a drug problem, worse than India, world

Tulsi said nearly 40 cases were being reported from the state every day, which was nearly half of the reported cases in the entire country, and sought to know what serious steps the Centre was taking to check the “alarming situation”.

Minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju said the government was not taking the situation seriously. He said youth giving in to drugs anywhere in the country should be a matter of concern.

Read: Punjab better-off than Haryana in drug abuse, says Sukhbir

He said the home ministry was in constant touch with the state government to take on the menace.

State govt involvement

However, Tulsi said, “It is widely believed that a minister in the state government is involved in drug smuggling.” Raising questions, he said the traffickers were not being targetted and added it appeared the Centre too was complicit in protecting the state.

Read: BJP echoes SAD, but Sidhu says drugs ferried in red-beacon cars

Rijiju responded by saying that an eminent lawyer like Tulsi would know that “merely taking a name” is not sufficient to launch prosecution against someone.

Read: After health minister, now CM Badal downplays drug issue in Punjab

Bajwa demands CBI probe

Congress leader Pratap Singh Bajwa said a former national championJagdish Singh Bhola, who was arrested on drug trafficking charges, has made shocking allegations against three ministers of the Prakash Singh Badal led government and named one of them as the “kingpin”. Demanding a CBI enquiry into the accusations, Bajwa said only a probe could bring the truth to light.

Rijiju said it would be unfortunate if a demand for probe was carried out based on a name taken for merely political reasons.

Punjab vulnerable due to location

In reply to several questions, Rijiju gave details of the seizures and raids being made to tackle the drug menace in Punjab. He admitted that Punjab, due to its location, was quite “vulnerable” as the borders at some places were quite porous. Dissatisfied with the reply, Bajwa and some other Congress members stood up and vociferously demanded CBI probe.

As the opposition members continued to protest, deputy chairman PJ Kurien said if they were not satisfied, they could take the matter as per the rules. “If you want a half an hour discussion, give notice,” he said.

According to details provided by the minister quoting Narcotics Control Bureau data, 23,709 cases in 2014 and 22,231 in 2015 were registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in the country. Of these, 9,159 and 10,233 cases were registered in Punjab in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

NDA ally Shiv Sena member Sanjay Raut said ‘Udta Punjab’ movie had spoken about the issue of drugs in Punjab but the problem was prevalent in other states as well and party drugs like Ephidrine was being widely used and “big people” were involved in this.

Read: Udta Punjab: Facts, figures and falsehoods of state’s drug problem

Rijiju said in 2015 97.3 kg Ephidrine and 729 kg of Pseudo-ephidrine were seized.