An unnamed opium addict usually has to beg or steal to get his dose of drugs, but for now, his packet is being delivered to his home in Punjab which supposed to be an Election “Handout”. He is one of those who is to vote in Punjab Elections that are to be held on Saturday, 4th Feb 2017.
Drugs have been the major issue in Punjab and this issue has been highlighted widely since past few years just so as to find a solution to it. But are issues really being solved?
He told a news agency, “I love elections and wish we had them every month. Normally we have to go out and find a dealer, but at election time it gets delivered to your home for free.”
To lure the voters, cash, home appliances, alcohol is widespread in elections. The candidates are now trying to woo addicts with free drugs.
About 2.63 tonnes of drugs has been seized including Heroin and opium has been seized in January itself.
SY Quraishi, the former Chief Election Commissioner said, “In 2012, when we conducted the Punjab state elections, we suspected the use of drugs during polls and found drugs were, in fact, a very serious issue. In one month alone, we recovered around 55 kilogrammes of heroin, around 430 kilogrammes of poppy husk (the raw ingredient of opium) and found almost every psychotropic substance in circulation.”
Opposition parties are blaming the current government led by the Akali Dal for the crisis.
Romesh Mahajan, project director of an addiction rehabilitation centre, says campaigners for parties or independent candidates prey on villages by offering them the same drugs they pledge to eradicate. “There are people who want alcohol and then there are people who want opium or heroin or pills,” Mr Mahajan told AFP at his centre in Gurdaspur district.
Another addict called Indarjeet, who is trying to end a heroin habit said it was “very common” to be offered drugs in return for backing a candidate.
Police are carrying out spot checks on vehicles at election time to make sure they are not loaded with freebies, including cash, alcohol and drugs.