Pubdate: Fri, 18 Apr 2014
Source: Hindustan Times (India)
Copyright: 2014, Hindustan Times Ltd.
Author: Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times, New Delhi


With drug addiction among Punjab youths becoming a hot election topic,
senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley is not mincing words on the issue in
the course of his campaign for the Amritsar seat though his political
partners, especially some senior Akali leaders, are accused of
encouraging the illicit trade.

As Jaitley put it in his blog on Friday, "Yesterday, I was addressing
a public meeting at Rajasansi. The loudest cheer was reserved for a
comment made against the drug addiction in the state. Enthusiastic
applause came from that section of the audiences where a large number
of women were seated. This explains it all."

Jaitley's stand is that drugs are not grown in Punjab. Narcotics are
smuggled from across the border. Some indigenous drugs are cultivated
in Rajasthan are also made available. "There is no solution to this
problem except strictest of enforcement. All drug availability must be
cut out at its very source. The borders have to be completely sealed
to make it impossible for anyone to smuggle drugs in the state. Even
in interstate travel from other states, strict enforcement has to be
undertaken. This may involve harassment of some but that is
unavoidable. Narcotic terrorism is the new form of insurgency. It
should be dealt accordingly," he said.

In the areas bordering Pakistan, Jaitley acknowledged drug trafficking
is rampant. "A large number of youngsters start with the thrill of
experimentation and eventually become drug addicts. Wherever I
travelled during campaigning, many people have expressed concern on
the issue. Several families have been destroyed due to this problem.
The potential of young men has been damaged. The social fabric of the
society has suffered badly."

More importantly, Jaitley did not absolve the Central and state
governments of blame. "Even though it is primarily the responsibility
of every family to inculcate such values in the children that keep
them away from the forbidden path, nonetheless, governments cannot
abdicate their responsibility in this matter. Both Central and state
governments have an onerous responsibility to discharge."

A tight vigil along the border which prevents availability of
narcotics, he said, is the prime responsibility of the governments.
"Strict and deterrent punishment for those who trade in and supply
prohibited drugs is a state responsibility. The users have to be
compassionately dealt with. Establishment of De-addiction Centres in
affected areas, which are run by professionals and trained people is
essential. The social and economic environment of the affected areas
has to be radically improved."

Jaitley's suggestions to check the menance include create new avenues
for gainful employment, create more institutes for technical
education, seek robust broadband connectivity and penetration of
Information Technology both for Amritsar and its surrounding rural
hamlets and expedite the establishment of the proposed Software
Technology Parks of India (STPI) centre in Amritsar.
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D