Congress leader and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Monday created a new controversy by calling for the legalisation of opium in the state. Sidhu spoke in support of AAP MP Dharamvir Gandhi who had also demanded the legalisation of the sale and cultivation of opium in Punjab.
Sidhu had said, "My uncle used to get opium as medicine from the hospital. It is way better than ‘chitta' (heroin), which SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia introduced in the state, due to which parents have to see bodies of their children," according to Hindustan Times.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday reacted to Sidhu's statements and said that Punjab will not allow the legalisation to happen at any cost, as the state had been engaged in a fight against the drug menace in the state.
Times Now quoted Singh as saying, "It’s time to have a national drug policy to check drug menace, as I have always maintained." Singh added that he was happy that the issue of opium cultivation has taken centre stage again. He also said, "One state growing drugs like opium to sell in another is not acceptable as it’s ruining younger generations. It’s important to resolve this matter once and for all."
“India has to have a drug policy. You need to have a strict drug policy and ban these drugs. Whatever is required for the pharma industry, the government can have a policy for that. But letting it be grown by states, we know how it leaks out of states and into markets which is Punjab,” Singh told ANI.
NDTV reported that on 18 July, Singh had written a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh and asked the government to formulate an effective national anti-drug policy with a coordinated strategy in place to curb the smuggling of narcotics into Punjab.
On Wednesday, Haryana minister Anil Vij Wednesday demanded to lodge a criminal case against Sidhu for "promoting" drug use. Vij demanded that Amarinder Singh should either order lodge an FIR against his Cabinet colleague or quit as chief minister because he had led the Congress to win the Punjab assembly polls last year by making drug malady an election issue.
"Amarinder Singh now should get an FIR registered against him (Sidhu) for publicising drug use or tender a resignation," Vij said.
According to reports, some Opposition leaders also said that Sidhu should quit the ministerial post. India Today quoted Akali Dal spokesperson Daljeet Cheema as saying that, "Sidhu's statement is enough to prove that the state government has failed to curb the menace of drugs. The chief minister had promised to get rid of the drugs within a month (of getting elected), now his cabinet colleague is demanding legalisation of poppy cultivation. The chief minister should explain how poppy cultivation and its easy availability will end the addiction."
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Oct 04, 2018 12:15:26 IST