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Drug menace: SAD holds dharnas near int’l border

With ally BJP raking up the drug menace issue in a big way that has rankled Akali Dal, Sukhbir also sought to turn the tables on the saffron party, saying the states ruled by it were not ready to stop cultivation of narcotics though Punjab was willing to compensate them.

BJP Chief Amit Shah is scheduled to start his party’s campaign against drugs from Amritsar on January 22.

The “awareness” dharnas were held close to the Attari, Hussainiwala and Sadiqi check points near Indo-Pak border in Amritsar, Ferozepur and Fazilka districts respectively.

Barring Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, virtually the entire leadership of the SAD participated in the dharnas and they included Ministers, MPs, MLAs, Chief Parliamentary Secretaries, district unit presidents besides SGPC members.

Sukhbir said that first a conspiracy was hatched to defame Punjabis as “terrorists” and now they were being branded as “drug addicts”.

“A propaganda has been going on in this regard and Congress is trying to politicise the issue,” he said.

Sukhbir sought to clear the air that Punjab was not a major drug producing and consuming state.
Addressing the dharnas which were held for “greater awareness” and “vigilance along the border with Pakistan”, Sukhbir said the Centre should prohibit states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh from “cultivating narcotics” in order to eliminate drug abuse.

“We are rice and wheat producing state unlike states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh that draw huge economic gain of Rs 150 crore to Rs 200 crore by cultivating narcotics. How can a country have two laws that allow cultivation of drugs in one state and foodgrains in another?,” questioned Sukhbir Badal.

The Punjab government has been receiving flak over the drug menace in the state from various quarters, mainly opposition Congress.

“A big conspiracy is being hatched to defame and malign the entire Punjabi community. It all started when (Congress vice-president) Rahul Gandhi had some time back said that 70 per cent of the State’s youths are into drug addiction. His statement was raked up by the TV channels and other media,” Sukhbir said.

The SAD leader also said that Punjab government has been not only fighting the war of the nation but also of the world against drugs.

“Punjab is on the transit route of the drugs supplied across the globe from international border. Drugs from Pakistan and Afghanistan are pushed to make their way to different parts of the country, but on most occasions our police is able to catch the culprits,” he said.

The SAD blamed “some forces inimical” to the interests of Punjab for tarnishing the image of Punjabis by branding them as “drug peddlers” and the state being described as “hotbed of drugs.”
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