Akali Dal protest not against any agency, BSF: Badal

Amritsar, Dec 31 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Wednesday said the protest of the Shiromani Akali Dal in the border belt of Punjab scheduled Jan 5 was not against any government agency or the Border Security Force (BSF).

“The Akali Dal dharna must not be misconstrued against any government agency. Rather, it is a dharna against the drugs menace in the state,” Badal told the media here after his party drew flak from all quarters for announcing its protest.
“The proposed protest of the Akali Dal is against the curse of drugs in the state and not against the BSF or any other government agency,” he said.
“Punjab is not only fighting the nation’s but the world’s war against drugs as the state is on the transit route of the drugs supplied across the globe. Rather than helping the state confront this crisis, some forces inimical to the interests of Punjab were hell bent upon tarnishing its image by branding the brave Punjabis as drug peddlers,” he said.
The Akali Dal, which is headed by Badal’s son and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, had earlier announced it will hold massive protests against the BSF near border check points in Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Ferozepur and Fazilka district.
After the Akali Dal started preparing for the protests, the chief minister stepped in to tone down the party’s stand and the party, in a U-turn, announced that the dharna would be for drug awareness and the need to step up vigil in border areas.
However, Sukhbir Badal has not uttered a word on the issue so far.
The Akali Dal had earlier blamed the BSF for not curbing drugs smuggling into Punjab.
Punjab is known for rampant drug abuse. Police had last year busted an international synthetic drugs racket in the state whose business was estimated at Rs.6,000 crore.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been running an alliance government with the Akali Dal in Punjab since 2007, had mentioned Punjab’s drugs problem specifically during the recent nationwide radio broadcast.
Badal, meanwhile, clarified that the alliance was an “everlasting” one and had “always stood the test of time”.
“Both the parties should not be seen as different from each other. The time-tested alliance between both the parties is a unique phenomenon, which has passed every litmus test in last few decades.
“The relationship between both the alliance partners was very strong, impeccable and cordial because it has been time and again cemented with mutual affection and understanding,” Badal said.