Punjab’s Youth Congress chief Ravneet Bittu, who is also widely acknowledged as Mr Rahul Gandhi’s man here, on Sunday launched an indefinite hungerstrike to force government action to curb the proliferating drug culture across the border state.
Reminiscent of Anna Hazare and his fasting brood at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, Bittu and 50 of his fittest supporters began their own oral abstinence strategically in front of the deputy commissioner’s office on Ludhiana’s busy Ferozepur Road. The strikers are demanding the “urgent” and “immediate” constitution of an appropriately empowered “drug prevention board” to draft legislation more specifically targeting peddlers and narcotics smugglers in Punjab.
Mr Bittu, who completed an unprecedented 1,500 kilometre foot march across the state, said he was shocked by the massive numbers of young Punjabis afflicted by addiction because of substance abuse.
“This is now almost routinely visible in the high rejection rates at Army and police recruitment centres simply because our youngsters fail the fitness tests,” the young politician, who also represents Punjab’s Anandpur Sahib Constituency in the Lok Sabha, told this newspaper.
Besides the drug prevention board, Mr Bittu and his supporters also sought the setting up of a Vidhan Sabha committee to serve as a watchdog for governmental initiatives against drug abuse.
“We may spend thousands of crores on mega industrial projects but none of that would bear fruit for our people if our youth are sick and in a drug-induced stupor,” he said, pointing out that there wasn’t a single state-supported de-addiction program to help young people kick the drug habit.
Inspired by AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Punjab’s Youth Congress workers have already been conducting private raids to unmask drug peddlers active in most cities and small towns. Asian Age