Though, Punjab is under flak for a rising number of drug addicts in the state, yet there is a village in the district which is free of drugs and alcohol.
Bakhopeer, 20 km from here, is known as a ‘nasha-mukt’ (drug-free) village of the district where no alcohol or tobacco is consumed or sold. The village has 800 votes.
There are a total of 5 general stores in the village, but no shopkeeper can sell tobacco, gutka, cigarette, biri and any other intoxicant. A liquor vend is 7 km from the village.
Interestingly, there is also a ban on the opening of a barber shop in the village, as most of the residents are Sikhs.
According to youngsters of the village, the anti-drug campaign is very old in the village. Village elders tell them that the village has been drug-free for almost four decades. Though, the entire village stands united against drugs, yet the credit to make the village drug-free goes to the Gurdwara Sabha of the village.
Talking to Hindustan Times, president of the Gurdwara Sabha Gurbhajan Singh said, “About 40 years ago, the Gurdwara Sabha of 11 members was formed and Gurdev Singh was made president. At that time, members of the Sabha decided to make the village drug-free by involving the village panchayat in the drive.”
“Sabha members also banned the sale of tobacco and alcohol in the village. Since then, there has been a complete ban on the use and sale of drugs in the village,” he added.
During elections of the assembly or village panchayat, no one is allowed to distribute liquor to woo voters.
“From the very beginning, most of sarpanches of the village panchayat have been elected by the Gurdwara Sabha unanimously, but whenever elections take place, candidates are not allowed to use liquor to woo voters,” said Partap Singh, a villager, adding, “The use of drugs is also banned in marriages.”
While, the state government has been spending crores of rupees on the anti-drug campaign in the state, but it has not bothered to recognise the efforts of this village panchayat.
About the government’s campaign to make the state drug-free, representatives of the village panchayat raised a question, “On the one hand, the government is spending crores of rupees to make Punjab drug-free, on the other, it is earning huge revenue from the sale of liquor. Why doesn’t the government ban the sale of liquor if they really want to make Punjab drug-free?”