Infamous for high rate of drug deaths, Maqboolpura locality falls in Amritsar (East) Assembly constituency represented by Navjot Singh Sidhu. Gori Phelwan is a veteran Congress worker from Maqboolpura. As his name suggests, Gori is a former wrestler. He is among those who think that sports can lift Maqboolpura out of drug menace. Although hampered by lack of resources, Gori has a long-term pending demand: to get land for an akhara in Maqboolpura to motivate youth to take up wrestling.
Gori says, “We had little hope of getting land for Akhara or stopping drug menace during the previous SAD-BJP government’s tenure. But even now, nothing has changed in the past year after the Congress has formed the government in Punjab. I have always remained loyal to the Congress party. I know who sells drug in our locality. If I know that, the police, too, must be knowing this. But there has been no action.”
Maqboolpura municipal councillor Ajit Singh Bhatia had joined the Congress party along with Navjot Singh Sidhu before the 2017 Assembly elections. Like Sidhu, Bhatia was also with the BJP previously. He won on Congress party ticket in recently held municipal corporation election in Amritsar.
Bhatia said, “I admit that drug smuggling happens. But it is also true that we never support any drug smuggler. It is the job of the police to stop the source of drugs and be strict on such elements.” Asked whether Sidhu was aware of the drug issue, Bhatia said, “Yes, Sidhu knows it. He has told the police to track take action against drug smugglers.”
Gori Phelwan said, “Drug-related deaths are routine in Maqboolpura, but no parent will admit it. Maqboolpura is already infamous for drugs and we face many issues due to this. But it is also the bitter truth.” Verka locality is not far from Maqboolpura. A youth Harbhej Singh (30) was found dead near Railway Lines in the area on Sunday. He allegedly died of drug overdose.
Manjeet Singh Verka, secretary, Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee factory, said, “It is true that drug smuggling has increased nowadays. Drug smugglers have support of police and administration. so smugglers have no fear of law. Navjot Singh Sidhu has told us that we should not go to him with any request to favour any drug smugglers. He is very strict on smugglers but what can we do when police is sheltering smugglers?” Sidhu did not respond to phone calls.