Punjab Government has charge-sheeted two officials of the State Information and Public Relations Department after their carelessness in releasing a video clip of Wednesday’s Cabinet Meeting wherein some ministers were heard talking about “drugs” before beginning of the meeting.
The clip was apparently meant to be sent out “muted” capturing just the scene ahead of the meeting on December 2. But what was uploaded carried the audio as well leaving the State Government red-faced after many interpreted the clip to be about drugs.
Viewers heard the term “kaali davai”, literally translated as “black medicine”. However, the Cabinet Minister on Thursday maintained that the “light-hearted” discussion was not about drugs at all.
Drug menace is a major issue in the state and the Congress had promised elimination of drug trafficking and arresting the drug dealers within weeks of coming to power during the 2017 assembly poll campaign.
The two officials from the Punjab Information and Public Relations Department, responsible for releasing the clip, have been asked to explain their conduct.
One of the ministers, who attended the Cabinet meeting, on Thursday claimed that the “light-hearted” talk was not about drugs but to suggest benefits of a medicine for some sick person.
“It was just a light-hearted talk and nothing more than that,” said the Minister, who did not wish to be named.
But Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia slammed the State Government for hauling up the officials. “They have taken action against the two officials of the PR department, but what about those ministers who are talking about the benefits of ‘kali davai’? Why is there no action against them?” he said in Amritsar.
“It is strange that the Government has not said a word about those who are talking about drugs in this manner, but action is being taken against those whose only mistake is to bring out what the ministers said,” he said when asked to comment on the issue.
Expressing shock that Punjab Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa batted for a Congress gangster during a Cabinet meeting, SAD also condemned the Council of Ministers for displaying “utter insensitivity” towards the malice of drugs and the toll it was taking on Punjabis by “glorifying” the use of opium.
“It is indeed a very sad day for democracy when a Minister starts batting for a gangster in a Cabinet meeting and tries to bully his colleagues to protect and shelter gangsters affiliated with the Congress
party,” said former minister Daljit Singh Cheema.
Stating that the entire civil society was in a state of shock after news of Jails Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa’s conduct in the Cabinet meeting was made public, he said: “This conduct itself is a fit ground for immediate dismissal of the Minister and an immediate probe into the gangster-Minister nexus which is eroding the foundations of our society.”
Akali leader also castigated the Cabinet Ministers for displaying total lack of sensitivity towards the scourge of drug addiction and even glorifying the habit during a Cabinet meeting.
He said that it was incredulous that action had been initiated against two employees whose job was to record Cabinet proceedings but no action had been initiated against the Minister who listed the benefits of opium and advocated its usage or others who joined in the conversation and even discussed from where it could be procured.
Maintaining that such behavior was shameful, Cheema asked the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to take serious note of both Sukhjinder Randhawa’s obnoxious conduct at the Cabinet meeting as well as advocacy of use of opium by other ministers during the meeting by taking exemplary action in both cases.