M A I N   N E W S

Punjab On A High V
Come elections and drugs are vote-catchers
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 4
An uninterrupted supply of quality drugs to a voter in general and an addict in particular during an election is now the success mantra of any politician in Punjab. In many cases, it is not a political affiliation but the resources and ability to ensure regular supply of drugs - from “bhukki” to Indian- Made Foreign Liquor that ensure success.

Roughly, 70 per cent Punjabis are addicts and nearly 20 per cent of them resort to illegal means to sustain their addictions. Bribing or influencing voters by cash or in kind is an offence under the ’ Representation of the People’s Act;a law which, if strictly implemented, can ensure a true democracy.

Unfortunately, the right to vote without fear remains on paper only. It is muscle or money power that decide who will be elected. And the factors that influence the poll outcome have an uninterrupted drug supply topping the list.

A senior police officer on condition of anonymity told The Tribune that whatever be the criticism, come elections and all politicians, irrespective of their affiliations, worked out the modalities of nursing their constituencies.

“Nursing,” he elaborated, “is to meet the demands for the supply of drugs, including contraband, from their electors. How can the police function independently when leaders force them to commit illegalities?”

There cannot be a more heinous or serious crime than denying any eligible elector his or her fair, free and fearless right to vote. And this is either taken away or bartered away for a few doses of drugs in whatever shape or kind one may be addicted to.

A look at the crime chart of Punjab during the past few decades makes an interesting study.Petty thefts and burglaries as well as serious offences like murder stem from the strong urge for a daily drug dose which could be a few tablets, a cough syrup, variable quantities of IMFL, wine or beer or plant-based addictives, including poppy husk, opium, cocaine, heroin and smack.

Youngsters responsible for drug-induced serious crimes belong in large numbers to the families of the economically or socially low-placed as well as to those of senior ruling party leaders or top bureaucrats.

An unprecedented increase in both reported and unreported cases of domestic violence has also been worrying social scientists. A large number of elderly couples are forced to take shelter in places of worship by their “once-favourite” sons who throw them out of their own “houses” because of their addiction to drugs.

Instances of parents being tortured, humiliated or even killed for refusing to give money for buying drugs are as frequent as feuds over land or property. Now, the major cause for crime is not only control over ancestral or parental property but also the “disposal” of immovable assets for drugs.

Loss of virility as a result of addiction has also been reported to be one of the major causes for the breaking of families both in rural and urban Punjab.

Robberies, snatchings, thefts and burglaries are on the rise primarily because addicts do not want any disruption in their daily doses. Interestingly, a constant decline in kidnappings and rapes claimed by the police is not a result of an improvement in the working of law and order agencies but of “suppressive” drugs. An increase in cases of pilferage of public or government property can also be safely attributed to the ever-rising number of drug addicts. (Concluded)



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