BJP govt has made Gujarat hub for drug traffickers from Pakistan, alleges Congress

Jairam Ramesh claimed lakhs of families have been thrown into turmoil by the BJP's botched effort to digitise land records in Gujarat

May 02, 2024 11:48 am | Updated 11:48 am IST - New Delhi

Congress Party senior leader Jairam Ramesh.

Congress Party senior leader Jairam Ramesh. | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

The Congress on May 2 alleged that the BJP government has made Gujarat a hub for drug traffickers from Pakistan and asked what is Prime Minister Narendra Modi doing to confront the rise of drug smuggling in the State.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh posed questions to Prime Minister Modi ahead of his rallies in Gujarat.

"Who is the PM protecting in the rampant drug smuggling trade into Gujarat? Who is responsible for the lakhs of families affected by inaccurate land records? Why is Gujarat still suffering from water shortage after all these years of BJP rule?" Mr. Ramesh said in a post on X.

Elaborating on what he said were "jumla details", Mr. Ramesh alleged that the BJP government has made Gujarat a hub for drug traffickers from Pakistan.

"Just a few days ago, the Indian Coast Guard, Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad, and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) seized a Pakistani boat carrying 86 kg of heroin (worth Rs 600 crore) off the coast of Gujarat. Two days prior, mephedrone valued at ₹230 crore was seized from two labs located in Gandhinagar, one in Amreli, and three in Rajasthan's Sirohi," he said.

In March, Pakistani nationals carrying narcotics worth ₹480 crore were apprehended off the Porbandar coast and in February, the Indian Navy and NCB had seized 3,300 kg of drugs near Porbandar in the largest drug bust in recent history, Mr. Ramesh said.

In some cases, weapons and ammunition were seized along with the narcotics, he said.

"While these smuggling attempts were detected, dozens if not hundreds of others have made their way to Indian soil. The PM's narrative of reducing terrorism and drug trafficking during his tenure stands exposed by these worrying developments," the Congress leader said.

"What is the PM doing to confront the rise of drug smuggling through Gujarat? Have the larger and wider links of the drug smugglers, that enable them to carry on their trade so brazenly - especially through ports - ever been probed?" Mr. Ramesh said.

He claimed lakhs of families have been thrown into turmoil by the BJP's botched effort to digitise land records in Gujarat.

By December 2021, the State government had received more than five lakh complaints from families demanding a verification of the resurvey of their land, he said.

"The private agencies hired to conduct the resurvey had frequently cut corners, resulting in the creation of lakhs of erroneous records. These inaccurate records can have wide-ranging impacts, from delaying property transactions, to hampering farmers' access to credit, to creating heated disputes within families and among neighbours," Mr. Ramesh said.

To make matters worse, litigation over property records can drag on for decades. A 2017 NITI Aayog paper estimated that it takes an average of 20 years for land disputes to be resolved in India, he said.

"The government was quick to deflect blame to private agencies but has made no effort to help the lakhs of families who were affected. The agencies themselves have also been allowed to walk free," he alleged.

Why has the PM abandoned the lakhs of families who are now stuck with inaccurate land records, he asked.

"Are those responsible for this blunder ever going to face the consequences?" Mr. Ramesh said.

As the PM visits Gujarat, he must address the State's deepening water crises, he said.

"In the 207 water reservoirs in Gujarat, the water level is an alarming 62.38%, with only 10 reservoirs in the State have a water level of more than 80%. The region-wise split reveals an even more worrying picture: the water level is 43.77% in 15 reservoirs of north Gujarat, 38.31% in 20 reservoirs of Kutch, and 36.42% in 141 reservoirs of the drought-prone region of Saurashtra," he pointed out.

"Some reservoirs in the State had already dried up before the onset of summer. The water levels of Gadhki and Sani in Devbhumi Dwarka, Advana and Amipara in Porbandar, and Prempara in Junagadh have reached ZERO," he said.

In addition to drinking water shortages for Gujarat's people, the crisis is also affecting farmers, who were promised irrigation water from the Narmada but have failed to reap benefits due to years of corruption and mismanagement, Mr. Ramesh alleged.

"Why has Gujarat reached this state of affairs under the BJP's rule? How is the PM going to address these issues?" he said and asked the prime minister to break his "silence" on these issues.

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