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Akali Dal launches 'nasha mukt Bharat' campaign

Through three well-attended dharnas along the Indo-Pakistan border, Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal not only launched its "nasha mukt Bharat" (drugs free India) campaign, but also sought to send out a warning against tarnishing the image of the State as being inhabited by drug addicts and peddlers. The events passed off peacefully, with no untoward incident being reported, while people braved severe cold wave conditions.

Despite all round criticism from various quarters, including a dominant section of the BJP, with whom they share power in the State as well as at the Centre, the Akali Dal went ahead with its "watered down" protest programme. After having announced that the dharnas were aimed at "pressurizing the Border Security Force" to stop the cross border smuggling of narcotics, the Akali Dal announced that it was an awareness campaign. The Akali Dal's protest programme came up after the BJP announced that its party president, Amit Shah would launch a statewide anti-drugs campaign from Amritsar on January 12. However, citing various reasons, Mr Shah's programme was later postponed.

While the Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal and son in law, Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, who is also a minister in the State cabinet stayed away, the dharnas at Attari, Hussainewala and Sadki were addressed by Deputy Chief Minister, Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the Akali Dal president, various ministers and senior Akali leaders. Punjab Revenue minister, Bikram Singh Majithia, who was recently summoned by the Enforcement Directorate to explain allegations about links with drugs smugglers involved in the Rs 6000 crore synthetic drugs racket, accused the Congress of launching a conspiracy to defame the Akali Dal. He not only accused the president of the Punjab unit of the Congress, Partap Singh Bajwa of conniving with the arrested drug lord, Jagdish Bhola, but challenged him to undergo a dope test.

Addressing the gathering at Attari, Mr Sukhbir Singh appealed to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi for higher allocations to the central agencies like the BSF, which could undertake stricter surveillance along the border through modern gadgets and technology.

He also said that there could not be separate parameters for different States. While the image of Punjab was suffering, States like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan earned Rs 115 crore and Rs 100 crore, respectively through sale of opium and other narcotics products. He demanded a complete ban on cultivation and sale of such narcotics in any part of the country.

Citing that while the Punjab police had arrested top smugglers from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkatta, Mr Sukhbir Singh said the people and government of Punjab were fighting the Nation's battle against drugs. Despite being the food bowl and the sword arm of the country, it was not the first time that at the instance of the Congress, were the Punjabis being defamed. Earlier, while Punjabis were making sacrifices to defend the unity and integrity of India, Punjabis, especially the Sikhs were branded as terrorists. He said that while everyone in Punjab was united to take this battle against drugs to its logical conclusion, disgruntled political elements in some parties and redundant Congress leaders, were out to derail it to make political capital even at the cost of the future of the youth. Read Full News

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