Blaming drug addiction for fewer Punjabis having the fitness to join the army, Ravneet Singh Bittu, member of parliament from Anandpur Sahib, has called for all-party meeting for a drug-free state.
Over the years, the number of young Punjabis joining the army has fallen drastically. "The main reason is the deteriorating health and energy levels of Punjabi youth," former state Youth Congress president Bittu said here on Tuesday, "for which the rise in drug addiction is to blame."
"Earlier, the state was a major drafting region of the army," said Bittu. "During a recruitment rally last month at Ferozepur, only 1,619 of 30,000 young men could clear the physical-fitness test to enter the armed forces. In similar tests in Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, and Pathankot, only 2,982 of 40,000 young men could qualify."
Even in insurgency-hit Jammu and Kashmir, there had been no decline in young men joining the army, said the MP. States such as Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh are way ahead of Punjab in representing the army.
Bittu said he hoped to see a reversal of the trend, for which all parties needed to work. "I call upon all parties to come together to discuss the vital issue of drug addiction among youth and its eradication from the sacred soil of Punjab," he said.