Referring to Punjab as “the land of five rivers” has been reduced to just school textbooks now, and the land of “drug menace” is more apt for the state now. For years, generations of Punjabi youth have suffered from a growing drug problem. There are many causes for the drug addiction problems in Punjab; the well to do state has many people belonging to affluent families who fall in to the trap of drug peddlers. Pakistan’s border with the state also provides an easy entry route for drugs worth billions of rupees to enter India. The involvement of the local people in the drug trade is another issue, as it would have otherwise been impossible for the drug problem to be so widespread. These issues were widely politicised and countless allegations were raised by the Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party.
Arvind Kejriwal and his ilk went so far as to pin the blame for the whole drug abuse problem on Shiromani Akali Dal’s Bikram Singh Majithia. Bikram Singh Majithia was the Minister for Revenue and Rehabilitation in the SAD-BJP coalition government in the state. AAP went all out to defame the minister and the coalition government to reap the maximum benefits prior to the elections. Udta Punjab, also played its part in highlighting the drug problem in Punjab and pinning the blame on the state and its police machinery.
The Congress party reaped all the benefits of the downfall owing to the defamation of the SAD-BJP coalition in the state in the elections of 2017. It formed a government in Punjab, and since then has done nothing to exterminate the drug menace in the state. Arvind Kejriwal began his apology spree and apologised to Majithia for defaming him. He took the easy way out once his job was done. Bollywood too has forgotten Punjab today; it has continued its focus on making Rom-Coms and biographies of actors, players and anybody else who might be able to pull the crowds.
Punjab is the first state where the Indian Army has started conducting drug tests of candidates. Men, women and children included have been wiped off by the drug menace. Nothing has changed even after the Congress government led by Captain Amarinder Singh has taken control of the state. People of the state have simply had enough of this, which led to the calls for an angry one week protest against the state government. ‘Maro ya virodh karo’ (die or oppose) and “Black Week Against Chitta” are the names given by the people to the week-long protests in the state which began from July 1. Protests and human chains were formed by the people in places like Bathinda, Moga, Kotkapura and Barnala amongst others.
Fearing a severe backlash from the people, the Punjab government seems to have woken up yesterday when it held an urgent cabinet meeting wherein they decided to come up with a solution, which already exists. They have forwarded a recommendation to the Union government for awarding death penalty for drug peddling/smuggling. This measure in fact already exists under the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act for repeat drug offenders. This measure is not enough to actually make much of a substantial difference on the ground to curb the drug problem. A wide scale drive to identify, deaddict and rehabilitate drug users is needed in the state. Sadly, both the incumbent Congress government in the state as well as the media have conveniently forgotten the drug problem in Punjab. Captain Amarinder Singh needs to act swiftly and in a planned manner to save the state, and he will need all the help he can get.