AGENCIES / Chandigarh

Huge ammount of narcotics have been recovered in the run-up to the Punjab elections, breaking the 2012 record when drugs emerged as a major issue for the first time.

Since the imposition of the model code of conduct in the state, security forces under the command of the EC have seized 33 kg of heroin and 4,707 kg of poppy husk. During the 2017 elections, 11.92 kg of heroin and 2,342 kg of poppy husk were seized and in 2012, the quantity was 23.54 kg and 2,707 kg.

The seizure has already crossed the previous figures with polling still a week away. Besides heroin and poppy husk, the forces also seized opium (70 kg), ganja (164 kg), smack (263 gm), charas (7,456 gm), capsules (10,784), vials of banned syrup (479) and tablets (4,73,733). Despite the record seizure, parties are divided if drug menace is still one of the core issues in the state. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which had focused its 2017 campaign on the issue, believes it is no longer a burning issue. “It exists only in the media now without any resonance in the state,” claims party chief Arvind Kejriwal. The BJP has a different view. State party chief Ashwani Sharma says, “Drug abuse is the biggest issue in Punjab. We are committed to ending the menace and punishing the culprits.”

Akali Dal spokesperson Parambans Singh Romana says the party is against vendetta, but treats it as a serious issue. “The first crackdown took place under our regime,” he claims.

Former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who had in 2017 vowed to end the menace in four weeks, says: “Drugs will always be an issue for any society. But to call it an issue in this election as in 2017 would be a mistake. My government broke the supply chain, although much politics was played on the issue.”