Chandigarh: The organisations of farmers in Punjab have got together to demand permission for growing opium. They say that the Congress, during the run-up to the assembly polls, had promised that if voted to power, it would allow opium farming in the state. But that was not done.
Presently, opium cultivation is legal only in a few states including Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
The farmers’ leaders say that growing opium would better their financial condition and would help them pay back loans.
Freedom from drugs
They have come out with a unique argument to persuade the government to concede their demand. Harmeet Singh Kadian, chief of the state unit of Bharatiya Kisan Union and other peasant leaders argue that availability of opium would allow the youths of Punjab to switch from ‘chemical drugs’ to ‘traditional intoxicants.’
The Punjab Government, it may be mentioned here, is in the midst of an intensive campaign to free the state from the menace of drug addiction.
“Drug addiction is ruining our younger generation. Opium would help them,” one of them said.
They also argue that cultivating opium was not considered ‘bad’ in the olden days in Punjab. “Opium could be found in every house. It helps cure many diseases,” a peasant leader said.
(Story: Sukhbeer Singh Bajwa)