Chandigarh: BJP ally SAD on Sunday announced that it will organise protests on the international border on January 5 to "pressurise the BSF" to stop entry of drugs from "Pakistan side," even as the state Congress alleged that the Akalis were trying to shift the blame to the Centre.
Shiromani Akali Dal will hold dharnas at four places, and it will precede an anti-drug campign, which the BJP President Amit Shah is set to begin on January 12 next year.
Punjab's Deputy Chief Minister and SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal today said through the dharnas they will "pressurise the Border Security Force (BSF) to stop drugs from entering Punjab territory from Pakistan."
Badal said the dharnas would be held at Attari international border, Sadki Check Post at Fazilka, Hussainiwala international border and the Gurdaspur international border.
"Punjab and the nation are suffering from the ill effects of narco terrorism due to continuous smuggling of narcotics from Pakistan into Punjab through the international border.
The border is guarded by the BSF which is a central agency over which we do not have any control. This smuggling must stop and the border with Pakistan must be completely sealed. Then only can we fight a national war against drugs", the SAD President said in a statement here.
With both SAD and BJP deciding to hold dharnas and launch campaign on drug issue, which has emerged as a hot political issue in Punjab in recent times, the Congress took a dig at both the parties, with former chief minister and party's deputy leader in Lok Sabha Amarinder Singh saying "people who are in power and in a position to act do not look good holding dharnas and if they can't act, they should better quit".
He said that all dharnas would be held in a peaceful manner.
"The Punjabis felt it was necessary to congregate at the border as they were being branded as drug addicts despite waging the nation's fight against drugs," he said, adding, the state had been taking steps to curb the drug menace that included arresting more than 25,000 persons on various charges.
The SAD president claimed that the drug issue was in the limelight today "because the Punjab government decided to wage a war against drugs".
"It is because of us that the fight against drugs is entering a decisive phase in India", he added.
The SAD president said that he will address the protest dharna at Attari. Dharnas at all four places will be held from 12 to 2 pm.
Referring to the proposed dharna of the Akali Dal at
the border on the drug issue, Amarinder asked, "whom are they trying to fool as they are very much part of the central government under which the BSF comes".
Amarinder Singh said, this dharna was being aimed at "pre-empting the anti-drug rally being organised by the BJP president Amit Shah in Amritsar on January 12."
"By trying to single out the BSF for protest, the Akalis were trying to shift the blame on the Centre. But let me remind you (Sukhbir) that you are very much part of the same government at the centre as the BJP, and you cannot shrug off the blame," he said, while adding, "moreover Punjab has been devastated not by the consumption of heroin that is smuggled in, but by the synthetic drugs which are manufactured locally.."
Notably, while Amit Shah is to begin campaign against drugs from Punjab; in his 'Mann Ki Baat programme on radio, a fortnight back, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called the "devastating" drug addiction menace as a "national pain", and further said the money spent by youth on drugs could be funding terrorism.
On December 16, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had sought the personal intervention of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for directing the Border Security Force (BSF) to take more effective measures to deter the trans- border drug flow, on the international border, which the Chief Minister had said transits through the state before reaching the international or national markets.
Sukhbir Singh Badal said Punjab did not manufacture a single gramme of drugs "which were coming into the State from Pakistan or other States in India including Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Now we want a cap on both these sources of drug production".
He also highlighted the fact that Punjab was the most pro active of all States as far as registering cases under the NDPS Act was concerned.
"Drug availability and consumption is prevalent in other States also but their governments have not been as vigilant as Punjab," he claimed.
Badal further said "according to recent information released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Punjab had the best record as far as registering cases under the NDPS Act were concerned."
He said according to figures for year 2013 as many as 16,464 cases had been registered under the NDPS Act in Punjab in comparison to "only 55 cases registered by Goa and 756 cases by Maharashtra during the same period."
"Both Goa and Maharashtra are places known for rave parties and easy availability of drugs indicating many States have not taken adequate steps to curb drug addiction as has been done by Punjab", he claimed.