The cost of Punjab's heroin 'epidemic'
The northern Indian state of Punjab votes on Saturday for a new government. But the biggest issue confronting voters is not jobs or corruption, but a drugs epidemic that is sweeping the state.6 Feb 2017
The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder travelled there to find out why one of India's most prosperous states is in danger of losing an entire generation to the use of drugs.
"This is him when he was in his first grade. He had just won a school competition."
Mukhtiar Singh smiles wistfully as he shows me a faded picture of his son Manjit, from a family album.
"In my wildest dreams I could not imagine what was to happen to him."
Manjit, 28, died in June last year because of a drug overdose. His father, a worker in the government's power department, marched through the streets of his village carrying his son's body, and then addressed a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"I told the prime minister he needed to step in to save Punjab's youth from drugs. Our children are dying and nothing is being done."
Seven months later, Mr Singh is battling to highlight Punjab's alarming drugs problem.
A recent government study suggests that more than 860,000 young men in the state, between the ages of 15-35, take some form of drugs.
Heroin is the most preferred, used by 53% of all addicts. But opium and synthetic drugs such as crystal methamphetamine are also common.
"My mission is to save Punjab's youth," Mr Singh tells me as we sit on the roof of his modest two-room home. "I have carried my son's body on my shoulders. It's something I don't want any other parent to experience."Share this on: