Rajya Sabha MPs raise concern over ‘alarming’ drug menace in Punjab

The problem of drug menace in Punjab came under the scanner of Rajya Sabha on Wednesday with members raising questions over the “alarming” number of such cases, with Congress demanding CBI probe into allegations against ministers of the ruling SAD-BJP combine in the state.

The government emphasised that it was taking steps to eradicate the menace while adding that mere taking of names does not become the basis for lodging prosecution.

During Question Hour, nominated member KTS Tulsi raised the issue saying the number of drug-related cases being reported from Punjab was disproportionately high and out of the 15 top districts on this count, 13 belonged to Punjab. Tulsi said nearly 40 cases were being reported from the state every day, which was nearly half of the reported cases in the entire country, and sought to know what serious steps the Centre was taking to check the “alarming situation”.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said the government has not termed the situation as not serious as “any situation in which youth are taking to drugs has to be taken seriously”. He said the Home Ministry was in constant touch with the state government to take on the menace.

Tulsi however alleged “it is widely believed that a minister in the state government is involved in drug smuggling.” Raising questions, he claimed that the traffickers were not being targeted and added it appeared that the Centre too was complicit in protecting the state.

Rijiju responded by saying that an eminent lawyer like Tulsi would know that “merely taking a name” is not sufficient to launch prosecution against someone.

Congress leader Pratap Singh Bajwa claimed a former national champion Jagdish Singh Bhola, who was arrested on drug trafficking charges, has made shocking allegations against three ministers of the Prakash Singh Badal led government and named one of them as the “kingpin”. Demanding a CBI enquiry into the accusations, Bajwa said only a probe could bring the truth to light.

Rijiju again replied that utterance of a name does not become a sufficient basis for a case to be lodged. If a name is taken for political reasons and then a demand for a probe is carried out, is not correct, the Union minister said.