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Posted at: Dec 29, 2014, 3:15 AM; last updated: Dec 29, 2014, 3:12 AM (IST)

Ahead of Shah’s visit, Akalis plan protests to push Centre on drugs

Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 28
Ahead of the proposed visit of BJP president Amit Shah to Punjab on January 12, the Shiromani Akali Dal today announced dharnas on January 5 at four places along the India-Pakistan border to build pressure on the Centre to curb drug smuggling from across the border. Shah will also launch a campaign against the drug menace in Amritsar.

The BJP’s state leadership has been blaming Akali leaders for the drug trade that has assumed dangerous dimensions in the state in recent years. The BJP was on the forefront to seek the resignation of Revenue Minister Bikram Majithia, who was summoned for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate on December 26 in a drug case.

Miffed at constant needling by the BJP on the drug issue, the SAD has decided to hit back at the saffron party, especially its central leadership, by holding dharnas along the border. Political parties are sparing no opportunity to take potshots at one another on the issue. The cold war between the SAD and BJP is now out in the open. The SAD leadership on Saturday hit out at Hindu organisations supporting the BJP on religious conversions.
SAD president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal will lead the dharna near the Attari border post. Other Akali leaders will lead similar dharnas at three places — Hussainiwala in Ferozepur, Sadiqi in Fazilka and Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will, however, stay away from these protests. “It is a party programme and not related to the state government,” said Jangveer Singh, media adviser to Sukhbir. SAD leaders have been told to ensure “good gathering” at all dharna sites to project it as an effective party campaign.
“The SAD has decided to lead the campaign for eradication of drugs from India by organising four massive protests along the border on January 5. The aim is to put pressure on the BSF to stop drugs from entering Punjab from Pakistan,” said Sukhbir.

He said: “Punjab and the nation are suffering from the ill-effects of narcotic-terrorism due to continuous smuggling factor. 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 more than 25,000 persons had been arrested in connection with drugs. “If we had not taken this tough stand and seized the drugs they would have traveled across India and had created havoc”.

He said the drugs were either coming from Pakistan or other states in India, including Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, but Punjab. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are ruled by the BJP. The objective of the SAD appears to tell Shah that it was Modi Government in the Centre and the BJP-ruled neighbouring states need to act to stop the smuggling of drugs in Punjab and not the state government.

Sukhbir said in 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,” he said.


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