By Sadhavi Khosla:
Punjab, the land where piousness used to emanate from every nook and corner, is now surrounded with the smoke of fire spiralled toward the sky.
Drugs, evil politics, terrorism, cases of the desecrations of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and many other menaces have brought the state at the verge of extinction.
The region, which once gave the country a flourishing state, is now only a slow contributor to its growth. There were times when Punjab used to rank number 1 in terms of prosperity of the states, and now, the situation has worsened so badly that it has tumbled to the 15th rank.
Much has been written on the condition of Punjab, but the government, perhaps, has no time to read it all, or even a bit of it. Much of what is being talked about the state is either veiled; or has been buried with the ashes of the dead by the mighty rulers of the state, who are masked as the well-wishers/politicians, giving speeches and making accusations under false pretences.
There are various issues that this land has been facing and there is no one to pay attention towards them. From the uncontrollable, increasing drug addiction amongst the youth in Punjab, to the economic distress in the state, everything has been leading the state to a furrow from where restoring its prestige and stature of the past seems to be an implausible dream.
Punjab, which was once famous for its brave soldiers, flourishing farms, hard working spirit of the Punjabis, and many other positive things, is now more popular as the Indian state where drug addiction is the highest. With more than 70 percent of youth in Punjab being addicted to drugs, the state has been witnessing worsening situations day by day.
In Punjab, drugs are available in medical stores, and local grocery shops. To the dismay of many, the access to drugs is even available inside the jail. In fact, more than 70% of the 20,000 inmates in various jails across the state are drug addicts, and many of them get heroin, smack & cocaine easily inside the jail, and all this becomes possible due to the smuggling acts of the peddlers and couriers that employ none other than children!
With drug addiction tightening its clasps, Tarn Taran is the most affected rural district and Amritsar the most affected urban district witnessing drug abuse. What is even more surprising is the fact that over 60% of all illicit drugs that are confiscated in India are seized in Punjab.
The present day situation of the youth in Punjab is nothing short of corrosion. Lack of employment opportunities, poor education, drug addiction, and the privatisation of higher education has resulted in easy availability of degrees across the state, have been the prime causes of the devastating condition of the youth in Punjab.
The Punjab government, led by the Badals and the Akalis, has been sleeping all this while. When the land is seeing deterioration in almost every sphere, there are no strict laws and regulations to stop the trepidation of the state. As a matter of fact, even when the entire world is aware of the alarming situation of drug abuse in the state, the government seems to have no cognizance of the fact – which is quite apparent in its manifesto and agenda of development for 2012-2017, where there is no mention of the issue of drug addiction in Punjab.
What could be the possible reason for this nonchalance?
Why couldn’t the government give a hoot?
Is it due to the fact that many Akali leaders are themselves a part of the drugs trafficking business of the state?
Or, is it because they are enjoying their ill-gotten gains?
Names like Purshotam Lal Sondhi, Bikram S. Majithia, Sadhu Singh and many more have come into the limelight for spreading drug abuse in the state, but to no avail – and that is simply because these people are in cahoots with the Badals.
When those who are given the responsibility to lead and govern the state, act as a promoter of vices like drug abuse, corruption, nepotism, and the rest, one can imagine that the future of that state is wide of the mark.
Green beautiful farms, which once adorned the state abundantly, are now difficult to be found with such lavishness as was apparent a few decades ago. The stagnancy in agriculture production that the state is facing is primarily because of the erosion of soil health. To worsen the situation more, there is a constant decline in primary sector’s share in the state’s GSDP.
With difficulties spiralling out of control, the people of Punjab have to bear another curse in the form of insufficient supply of electricity across the state, especially in the rural belt.
If you take a look at India, you will find states where the politicians and statesmen actually work for the betterment of the people, but in Punjab, it happens otherwise!
The government has been unable to attract foreign investment in the state as compared to the neighbouring states like Haryana. It shows the unwillingness on the part of the government to bring in innovative ideas and promote the state in more avenues.
The situation is worsening as the Punjab industry is in the grip of a crisis and as many as 19,000 factories have shut down in the state in the last 8 years of SAD rule. As a matter of fact, several industrial units have disappeared from Punjab, and there is no one who could be held accountable for the same!
Is this because the Badal family wishes to strengthen its business empire by keeping others at bay?
From transport and hotels to media, power, civil aviation, agriculture and much more, the Badal family has ventured successfully in almost all types of trades and businesses, leaving no room for small entrepreneurs. The Badals have vested interest in many businesses, so who thinks about the state anyway?
Such is the greed of the Badals that it overpowered their conscience and it did not deter them from spreading their wings to the illegal drugs as well as land mafia business. Time and again, Badals have been charged for fraudulently occupying large chunks of land in different parts of Punjab. To top it all, they are also the sole owners of the sand mining business.
My heart sinks when I see that the Punjab Government is incapable to witness what’s happening in the state!
Taking a look at the increasing number of suicides being committed by the farmers of the land, and their burning ashes, I am unable to understand why is nothing able to shake the soul of the ruling government? The rural debt in Punjab is estimated to be more than Rs. 35000 crore which has resulted in farmer’s suicides. In fact, 85 percent of Punjab’s farmers are reeling under heavy debt burden, and what are the government’s initiatives to help the famers who are in distress?
Perhaps, the focus of the government is limited to the welfare of the Badal family and their alliances; this is why they didn’t turn a hair even when the state has been crying for help, for a long time now!
The lack of employment opportunities in the state, along with sluggish industrial and agricultural growth pushed Punjab towards the vicious circle of economic depression. With no income sources, people regressed into an age of endless obliteration, pain and ruin.
The Badal government did not learn even when thousands of youth slumped into the menace of drugs. It, rather, seemed to have enjoyed the financial distress in the state, so that it can strengthen its monopoly and industrial supremacy.
What’s the result – you may ask!
It is the growing enslavement of the youth by the drug-death dealers, which has led to the demise of the future generation of Punjabis.
This vulnerability which is apparent in the state has stirred the hearts of the populace and has resulted into an unfathomable anger – anger against the Badal Government’s misgovernance of last 9 years. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why the sacrilege of the holy Guru Granth Sahib took place at this holy land.
If the worsened physical, financial and agricultural situation of Punjab was not enough, there are many elements who want to disrupt the state’s religious condition as well.
Punjab, which is already in rack and ruin, has seen a lot in the past so many years, but during the past few months, the state has seen a gripping feeling of unrest – one that makes it difficult for those who love Punjab to shut their eyes and be at peace.
Various incidents have taken place in the state where the religious sentiments of the Sikh community as well as the Punjabis have been hurt. From stealing the Holy Scripture, and the living guru of the Sikhs – Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in Bargadi village, to granting pardon to Gurmeet Ram Rahim for disrespecting Guru Gobind Singh Ji, there are many cases which needed stern actions on the part of the Sikh institutions and also by the government, but once again, the Punjab government let the people of the state down with its impotence to act on important issues with the right aptitude. A perfect example of ostrich strategy, I would call it!
Several cases of desecration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji have been recorded in 2015 and those peacefully protested against them were punished with lathi-charge and use of tear gas grenades and even firing, killing peaceful protestors in the quagmire.
It needs no mention that the ruling Akali Dal which is being led by Prakash Singh Badal is losing hold over the state, and is absolutely incapable of bringing the state back to the situation of normalcy. With the establishment and development of Panthic institutions such as the SGPC and SAD and the Akal Takht, the Badal family has formed unions that support them in any and every decision that they take. This has resulted in the lack of transparency in the functioning of Sikh institutions, where the controversial religious decisions are taken in a haphazard manner, sweeping the matters under the rug.
Is it to fetch votes or to start communal riots in the state which was once known for the love and amicability of its residents?
The not so smart politicians of the land need to understand that Punjab is a border state, and is extremely vulnerable. When the religious sentiments of those who live in Punjab are being crushed, the state will not be able to restore its regularity and will be a perfect prey for the neighbouring country.
Another core issue that has contributed to the unrest of the state, which is already a political, social and religious mess, is the congregation of Sarbat Khalsa. The inappropriate functioning of the high priests of the different Sikh institutions, along with the growing credibility gap and several other issues that have been creating ripples in the circle of Punjab, led to the meeting of Sarbat Khalsa in 2015.
Backed by the Sikh diaspora, the turmoil between the SGPC-appointed Jathedars will continue to exploit the land in the name of religion. Demanding Khalistan and fuelling the anger of the already oppressed inhabitants of the state, the Sarbat Khalsa is buttressed by many votaries of Khalistan.
This political jolt for SAD is going to further deteriorate the law and order situation of Punjab, and the government will act as a silence spectator, once again!
I want to ask this from all of you – why are we being a spectator of communal polarization in Punjab?
Why can’t we come together to fight with the menaces that are taking over our beloved state?
Unemployment, misgoverance, corruption, agrarian collapse, shutting of industries, drug smuggling, desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, religious combats, slaughter of peaceful protestors, and the rule of Badals – all this continues to bury Punjab deep into its grave.
It is about time we stop getting into a stew and work for the betterment of the state.
Turning out to be a real can of worms, this unmitigated disaster seeks the attention of everyone.
I hope the scales fall from the eyes of BJP and other parties that support the ruling government in Punjab, for the people in the state demand justice, integrity and good governance – if they do not get it even now, then when?