Punjab’s Season of Election and Addiction


Punjab’s Season of Election and Addiction

Illustration: Akshita Monga


s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Faridkot on January 29, decrying how “the leader of one party is disrespecting Punjab’s youths by calling them drug addicts”, 118 kilometres away in a dimly lit room in the city of Sangrur, 65-year-old recovering heroin and bhuki (poppy husk) addict, Ameer Singh, laughed at his assertions.

Ameer Singh is a leathery old man, who has spent a lifetime casting votes for drugs. He tells me about the time when the Election Commission wasn’t as stringent, when in his village of Akbarpur, the sarpanch would sit under a tree, next to a mountain of bhuki, and call them all out. He would tell them in no unclear words, pointing to the poppy husk, “Either take this or this,” signalling toward his chappal. Most of them, including Ameer Singh, took the bhuki and voted where he directed them to.