Voters in Mukerian Assembly segment, which shares its boundary with Himachal Pradesh, say that the constituency has been battling twin problems of illegal mining and drug trade. On October 21, people vote here in a bypoll necessitated by the death of sitting Congress MLA Rajnish Babbi.
The constituency, borders Himachal from Talwara and Mirthal. Across the state border are several villages of the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
There are over a dozen stone crushers mainly located on Talwara-Hazipur road in Mukerian and people of nearly 30 villages are affected due to presence of these crushers. People sell sand from their own fields illegally on the Talwara-Hazipur road.
Sukhwinder Singh of Handwal village said that 60 to 70 feet deep holes due to mining can be seen in private fields of the farmers in several villages on Talwara-Hazipur road and even panchayat land and government land are not spared from illegal mining.
Same is the case of Chak Meerwal village, claimed a villager Jasvir Singh, adding that even former Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was the chairman of the Cabinet sub-committee on mining formed by the CM to frame a policy on mining, had visited this area once.
“There are large number of rocky sand dunes on Talwara-Hazipur side and people say that gravel extracted from these sand dunes is shown as the gravel transported from neighbouring state Himachal Pradesh by the sand mafia on papers,” said Ajit Singh of Hazipur.
Sanjiv Kumar, a Mukerian resident, said that due to presence of large number of crushers here the illegal mining was taking place all around the constituency.
“Even Police is under pressure and mining is also going on in our Khadds (quarries) rampantly,” said a Talwara resident.
Drugs being pushed into the area from Himachal is also a problem that the residents claim they face. “Himachal villages are selling drugs in Mukerian openly and the police is hardly doing anything to control them. Several youth have died here due to overdose in the past,” said Suresh Chauhan, a Mukerian resident.
People said that not only chitta (heroin), a new drug called meow-meow was entering the constituency from Milvan, a village in Kangra district in Himachal.
A police officer of Punjab Police confirmed the availability of meow-meow drug here which is mainly smuggled from adjoining Himachal areas and basically comes from Delhi as large number of South African peddlers are involved in its trade.
“Drugs are available everywhere in the constituency but government doesn’t seem to be bothered about this,” said another resident.
Allegations of easy availability of drugs, narcotics and illegal mining are giving ruling party’s candidates a tough time.
Congress party candidate Indu Bala, who is also the wife of deceased MLA Rajnish Babbi, is confident of winning the seat. While she has been asking for votes in the name of the development, her opponent from the BJP, Jangi Lal Mahjan, has been attacking the government over illegal mining, corruption, drugs and unemployment. AAP candidate Gurdhiyan Singh has been taking up the issue of drugs and illegal mining.