In a recent radio address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Indians to stay away from the menace of drug addiction. Punjab, the erstwhile food basket of India, is in the throes of drug addiction. A study by the central government claimed that four out of every ten males in the state are addicted to drugs and up to half this number are youth and farmers.
In addition, a survey by the Narcotics Control Bureau has stated that a steady supply from across Punjab’s borders is making it next to impossible for state and central agencies to tackle the menace of drug addiction. Among some of the well-known circumstances behind the ever increasing drug trade in Punjab is a thriving smuggler-police-politician nexus.
Therefore, when Enforcement Directorate Assistant Director Niranjan Singh, who was investigating the Rs 6,000-crore synthetic drug racket case was transferred to Kolkata, questions began to emerge about the intent of both the state government and Centre. Singh had summoned Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia on December 26, for his alleged role in the racket after the Incarcerated drug lord Jagdish Bhola’s statement in 2013.
During his interrogation in the first week of January last year, Bhola revealed the alleged involvement of several leaders from the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal. Although Bhola’s statement had also named Majithia, it took officials from the ED 11 months to summon the state cabinet minister.
After he was subjected to interrogation by ED officials, the ramifications of the consequent political storm were felt at the Centre, where the ruling SAD and BJP are in an alliance. Majithia, the brother-in-law of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, however, has categorically denied his involvement in the racket. Sources in ED have said that the transfer of an investigating officer at this juncture could further delay investigations into the case. What is worse, however, is that any attempt to make further progress in the drug racket case, has been made difficult by state-level sleuths, who were found to have laid bugs on ED officials.
Clearly, there is a conspiracy to silence the drug racket that receives the patronage of some members in the state’s ruling establishment. Going by the Centre’s decision to transfer the investigating officer in the case, the whole charade smells of political expediency, with elections in Delhi only a few days away. The BJP requires the support of the SAD-Badal for the forthcoming assembly elections in the national capital. However, if Prime Minister Modi is serious about tackling drug addiction, he must immediately revoke the transfer order.