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Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday accused Punjab’s Akali Dal government of providing protection to illicit drugs trade and asserted that the party would help in freeing the State from the menace by bringing in new law and restoring the money made by drug dealers to the victims’ families.
Mr. Gandhi, who was addressing a dharna staged by the Congress in Jalandhar against the drugs menace, charged the Akalis with trying to get the film “Udta Punjab”, which highlights the drugs problem in the State, banned. He said they were not ready to admit the truth as they were “benefiting” from drugs and lawlessness.
“Those who have made money, big houses and robbed the youth of their money from this drugs trade, we will get that money back [from them] and return it to you. We will bring in law and deploy the police in the right manner to stop the menace. There is a monstrous enemy before you and it is ruining your life. We are with you and together we will fight this enemy and make a bright future for Punjab. We will together bring this State back on track,” he said.
“I want to tell you that when the Congress comes to power [after the next elections], we shall fight against drugs the way we fought in the Bhatta Parsaul incident [where the Congress launched an agitation against forcible land acquisition],” Mr. Gandhi said adding that “If Punjab is to have a future, you will have to eradicate drugs and there is no other way.”
Taking on SAD chief Sukhbir Badal, Mr. Gandhi said when he raised the issue of drugs four years ago, Mr. Badal had made fun of him.
“Today, ‘Udta Punjab’ is being banned. Today also they are not ready to admit the truth, because they are benefiting from this. Everyday they benefit from this truth, from drugs and lawlessness in Punjab. Akali Dal and its leaders are benefiting from this,” he said.
“This work [of freeing Punjab from drugs], only the Congress can do. When we say the truth, they make fun of us. They say there is no drug problem, there is no law and order problem and neither any unemployment problem. Everything is ok. But this is not the truth and Punjab’s future has been destroyed,” he said.
“The hands and feet of Punjab’s youth are chained and without breaking those chains, Punjab cannot move forward. Punjab’s people will have to accept this truth and only then we can wage a war against drugs. Nothing will happen by hiding it. Punjab has the strength to recognise this truth as its people work with honesty and so does the Congress,” he observed.
“When farmers in Bhatta Parsaul came to me, they told me about their pain. People made fun of me at that time and said, why did you go to Bhatta Parsaul. I remember, they said nothing had happened in Bhatta Parsaul. There was a truth in Bhatta Parsaul and farmers were feeling the pain. I fought for them and in the end, we got the Land Acquisition Bill,” he noted.
He pointed out that the youth of Punjab had come to him and shared their pain about drug problem in the State, saying, “our future is being ruined.”