BATHINDA, Punjab — In an exclusive interview with HuffPost India at his home in Badal village, Congress Party leader Manpreet Singh Badal said that if his party should win the upcoming Punjab Assembly polls, the acute drug problem in the state would be brought under control within four weeks, with the help of the military if necessary.
“I don’t think that anyone can defy the writ of the state. If the police is incapable of dealing with it then we will have to call in the military. But it has to be done. I’m serious about it. We can call in the military. The Constitution allows us to call in the military. How dare someone gives poison to my children. Who the hell is he and what sympathies do the people of Punjab have with these people,” said Badal.
“The condition is radical, it will require a radical solution,” he said. “I’m saying it with full responsibility. Whatever it takes.”
Badal, the Congress Party candidate from Bathinda (Urban), has also drafted the Grand Old Party’s election manifesto for the upcoming polls. He previously served as the finance minister of Punjab under the government of Parkash Singh Badal, his uncle, but the 54-year-old leader was expelled from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in 2010.
When it was asked him why the Congress Party felt the need to call in the military, Badal said, “Punjab used to have the most famed and dreaded police force. Obviously, the chain of command has been compromised. They have become politicised. Good officers have been sidelined. They have yes men now running the police.”
A 2014 study by the New Delhi-based All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) concluded that there are over eight lakh drug users in Punjab, The AIIMS study said that out of the 2.77 crore people in Punjab, 2.3 lakh were dependent on opioid and 1.23 lakh were dependent on heroin. Leaders from SAD and the Bharatiya Janata Party, its alliance partner, have said that the AIIMS report is inaccurate and unfairly maligns the people of Punjab.
Badal also said that the Congress Party would come up with a new legislation called the Confiscation of Drug Dealers Property Act. “Anybody who is actually found selling drugs, his entire property will be taken away. That means whatever you have, whether it is ancestral or new, it means all your property is tainted with drug money and the state has the right to take over that,” he said.
On whether the ruling SAD-BJP had downplayed the drug problem in Punjab, Badal said, “Definitely.”
“They keep saying that Punjab is a transit route for drugs sent by Pakistan. If that was the case then Rajasthan has a boundary which is three times larger than Punjab, Gujarat has a boundary which is twice as large as Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir has a similar boundary. Why is Pakistan being kind to Rajasthan and Gujarat. Why are they targeting Punjab. We have a border fence. So obviously these drugs are home-grown, home produced. And they are produced with maybe the patronage of the administration or the politicians,” he said.