Drug menace lost in political rhetoric

Drug menace lost in  political rhetoric

The issue of Punjab youth grappling with drug addiction appears lost in the political rhetoric as parties busy themselves in a no-holds-barred blame game and accuse each other of patronising drug trade in the border state.

Drug trafficking and rampant drug abuse, especially among youth, is turning to be a big poll issue among the electorate in Punjab which shares a 550-km boundary with neighbouring Pakistan from where majority of drug flow takes place. Political parties are accusing each other of doing precious little to save Punjab youth from drug menace but as campaigning peaks, the political discourse appears subtlety drifting from the real issue.

There are no efforts to find a solution. The dialogue with electorate, especially in Amritsar, is heavily loaded with the element of suspicion of political patronage to drug paddlers by cash-rich politicians in Punjab.

The extent of drug flow ahead of elections in the state can be gauged from the fact that drugs estimated over Rs 650 crore in international markets have been recovered in Punjab after the imposition of the model code of conduct. Poppy husk, a narcotic that is “freely” available in neighbouring Rajasthan, where it is legal, is in major supply in Punjab.

 A few days ago, one of the woman candidates of the ruling Akali Dal in poll fray surprised all by suggesting to “legalise” poppy husk by issuing licence for sale of this drug. Substantial efforts have not been put to take on the drug addiction. According to the State Disaster Management Plan, a whooping 73 per cent of the state’s youth aged between 16 and 35 are affected by drugs.

In Punjab’s hinterland, settlements like Maqboolpura in Amritsar, nicknamed  “locality of widows,” stand testimony to the rot that has plagued Punjab.

Every house here has seen a death due of drug abuse. Each house tells a story of tragedy, yet this area gets nothing but indifference from political parties.

There are 272 women here who receive the government’s widow pension.

Shashi in Maqboolpura was featured in inspirational television show “Satyamev Jayate” anchored by cine star Aamir Khan. But Shashi’s tragedy, having lost two of her three sons to drug abuse in 2003, portrayed on screen hasn’t changed anything.

The Congress and the SAD-BJP accuse each other of patronising drug trade. Capt Amarinder Singh, contesting from Amritsar against BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley, has been openly accusing a Punjab minister of being the “kingpin” of drug trade in this state. “The Akalis were now seeking to legalise this trade as they thought it would be a great money-making business.

It only vindicated my party’s stand that the drug trade was being run under the nose of the Akalis,” he had said.

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