JAITU (Faridkot): In a major embarrassment for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), its sitting MP from Faridkot Paramjit Kaur Gulshan told voters on Friday that she wanted to open licensed poppy husk vends in Punjab. She told residents of Jaitu constituency that she had recently proposed this to the Parkash Singh Badal government.
Poppy husk is commonly known as bhukkhi in the state and is sold illegally in the farmer community. “Since there is a lot of demand to make poppy husk available to villages legally, the MLAs and I have personally suggested to the chief minister to look into this demand,” Gulshan told villagers during her address.
Her comment is certain to spark a controversy as there is a bitter war of words going on between politicians with the Congress accusing the Akali Dal of supporting the drug mafia. Akali leaders have also leveled counter allegations.
“I am not in favour of these vends. But the senior citizens in the villages have got addicted to poppy husk for the last 50 to 60 years. They will get weak and die if they don’t get it. They are only demanding that it should be legalized like in Rajasthan. They cannot be weaned off the addiction.”
She cited the medicinal use of the drug to support the villagers’ case. “This drug doesn’t hurt the health of a person like that white powder (heroin) or those drugs which come from foreign countries,” she added.
On Friday, visiting senior Congress leader and in charge of Punjab affairs, Shakeel Ahmed, during his address in Gurdaspur, charged the Badal-led government of “turning the sensitive border state into a river of drugs”. “This is affecting the very future of the youth and the region,” he said.
He also said that the smuggling was being patronized by the Akali Dal ministers following revelations made by arrested druglord Jagdish Bhola last November. Bhola has been arrested in the Rs 6,000 crore synthetic drug racket. It was in 2009 that the state government had accepted before the high court that 70% of the state’s youth were addicted to drugs.