Congress seeks apology from Akali Dal over Rahul remarks

Last Updated: Fri, Oct 12, 2012 17:20 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS) Congress Friday demanded an apology from Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for making "uncalled, uncharitable and undignified remarks" against party general secretary Rahul Gandhi over his "flagging" the enormity of of drug addiction in Punjab.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari accused the SAD-Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state of reacting with "arrogance coupled with ignorance".

Tewari said Punjab and Haryana High Court had said in its order passed earlier this year that a small village in Punjab may not be having a school but has a medicine shop. He said surveys conducted by various agencies had noted that Punjab ranks second in the country in drug abuse after Nagaland.

"Seventy percent of boys and girls in Punjab in the age group of 19-24 years are exposed to abuse of drugs. A staggering 75 percent of Punjab's youth is hooked to drugs. This figure was submitted by the state government itself to this court in the year 2009. One out of every three college students in the state is on drugs. Every kind of prescription drugs is available through chemist shops," he said.

Gandhi's remark that seven out of 10 youths in Punjab have a drug problem triggered a controversy with SAD asking how the Congress leader came to this conclusion on drug addiction in the state. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had termed Gandhi's remarks as "immature" and added he made the remarks to divert attention from various scams.

Badal said the problem of drug abuse in the state was similar to that prevailing in many other parts of the country.

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