The Ludhiana rural police have registered a daily diary report (DDR) against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP from Patiala Dr Dharamvir Gandhi and other protesters for allegedly sowing poppy seeds in a field during their Chhapar Mela rally held at village Chhapar of Ludhiana on September 28, 2018.
Gandhi along with hundreds of farmers from several farmer unions had organised a protest rally during Chhapar Mela demanding legalisation of cultivation of poppy in Punjab. During the protest, farmers had also scattered poppy seeds on the ground as a ‘symbolic protest.’
It is currently banned to cultivate opium in Punjab whose by-product poppy husk is consumed as a drug by the addicts.
DIG Ludhiana range Ranbir Singh Khattra said that DDR has been registered at Jodhan police station taking cognisance of inputs given by policemen who were deployed for security at the mela. However, no FIR has been registered yet.
He said, “It is an offence under the NDPS Act to cultivate opium. We will probe who is the owner of the land where seeds were spread and if he had permitted the same.”
He further said that legal opinion will be taken in the matter to decide if it was an offence under the sections 18 (punishment for contravention in relation to opium poppy and opium) and 28 (punishment for an attempt to commit offences) of NDPS Act or not.
Meanwhile, Ludhiana rural SSP Varinder Singh Brar said, “We have filed a DDR. No FIR has been registered yet. We will take legal opinion in the case but since it was a symbolic protest and no commercial cultivation was done, FIR may not be registered.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Patiala MP Gandhi, a rebel of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) who has also raised the matter in Lok Sabha to legalise the cultivation of opium in Punjab, said, “It was just a symbolic protest that farmers did by scattering a handful of opium seeds, not any commercial cultivation. I am demanding legalisation of opium cultivation in Punjab for benefit of farmers who are facing economic losses because of draconian NDPS Act. Our protest against this draconian will continue. But till it is not legal to cultivate opium in Punjab, we will follow the law. It is our right to protest living in a democratic country. But we did not do any commercial cultivation which violates the law. A symbolic protest is no crime.”
On Sunday, Congress cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu also came out in support of Gandhi and said that opium cultivation should be allowed as it is ‘way better than synthetic drugs like heroin.’