CHANDIGARH, October 21, 2016: Rejecting the Akali-sponsored survey on drug abuse in the state as a State-sponsored piece of fabrication, the Punjab Congress on Friday accused Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal of trying to mislead people by fudging the official numbers.
In a statement issued here, the PPCC said Sukhbir Badal’s claim that there were only about 1% drug addicts in Punjab was nothing but a bundle of lies, which was in total conflict with data based on independent surveys. “The government-sponsored figures released by Sukhbir are a clear attempt to hoodwink the people of Punjab,” said the PPCC, adding that even the common man on the street was cognizant of the gravity of the situation.
The rampant drugs menace in Punjab has assumed such grave proportions that virtually no family is insulated from its adverse impact, said the statement, adding that the people of the state are not going to be fooled by the fake data that Sukhbir is trying to project.
The controlled sample used by the Akali government to support its claim that there was no serious drugs problem in the state could not help them cover up the issue. The people of Punjab are suffering the truth every day and will not accept Sukhbir’s patently false claims, said PPCC leaders Sunder Sham Arora, Ramanjit Singh Sikki and Gurchet Singh Bhullar.
The sample on which Sukhbir’s claims were based related to the 3.75 lakh youth who had applied for police recruitment, and who were naturally expected to be normal and healthy. It would be naïve, said the PPCC leaders, to expect a drug addict to apply for a police job, which requires rigorous physical and medical tests.
The PPCC leaders further pointed out that the Badal government had itself admitted, in an affidavit submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court through its Chief Secretary on July 13, 2015, that between June 2014 and June 2015, three lakh addicts had approached the de-addiction centres for treatment, while 13,000 were admitted indoors. “Do these figures show that there is no drugs problem in Punjab or do they indicate that the situation is indeed alarming?” they asked.
Countering Sukhbir’s charges that PPCC president Captain Amarinder Singh was defaming the people of Punjab, the leaders asked how recognizing the seriousness of a problem that has destroyed an entire generation can amount to defamation of the youth.
The PPCC leaders cited the independent study – Punjab OPIOID Dependence Survey, conducted by Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Govt of India - to point out that an estimated 2.3 lakh people in Punjab were opioid dependent. Also, the study had found that 76% of all opioid dependents in Punjab were in the 18-35 age group, indicating an alarming rise of drug addiction among youth.
Ironically, said the PPCC leaders, the data released by DGP Suresh Arora in Sukhbir Badal’s presence at the latter’s press conference was itself indicative of the scale of the problem. As per Arora’s figures, in 2014, 14,483 cases were registered against drug smugglers in Punjab, which constituted 31% of the cases nationally. Punjab also reportedly recorded 46% of all heroin recovered in the country and 31% opium in 2014, according to the DGP’s statistics. With such large-scale seizures, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that drugs are flowing freely all over the state, under the benign eye of the state government and its agencies, the Punjab Congress leaders observed.
This data was sufficient to contradict Sukhbir’s claims that Punjab did not have any drugs problem, the Punjab Congress leaders pointed out, adding that the Badal government’s feeble attempts to push the problem under the carpet will not befool the people of the state.