Liquor flows freely in dry Gujarat, says Congress citing official figures, complaints by BJP leaders

Congress spokesperson Dr Manish Doshi alleged that because the ruling BJP takes the help of bootleggers during elections, the liquor mafia had a free hand to carry out their illegal business

Representative Image
Representative Image

Nachiketa Desai

People in the dry state of Gujarat seem to be consuming more liquor than the neighbouring state of Rajasthan where there is no prohibition. Even the state government has admitted in the Gujarat assembly that liquor worth Rs 215 lakh was confiscated from bootleggers in the last two years.

“Prohibition is only on paper in Gujarat as liquor is easily available,” says state Congress spokesperson Dr Manish Doshi, citing statements of some BJP MPs, MLAs and senior police officers.

Dr Doshi pointed out that even BJP MPs from Bharuch and Patan Lok Sabha constituencies have given written complaints to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani about the flourishing business of illicit liquor in the state. He said the superintendent of police of Naramada district too had drawn the attention of his superior officers to the collusion of police with bootleggers, alleging that the men in uniform are known to pilot vehicles transporting liquor from the neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra where there is no prohibition.

Dr Doshi alleged that because the ruling BJP takes the help of bootleggers during elections, the liquor mafia had a free hand to carry out their illegal business.

Incidentally, state BJP president C R Patil, a former police constable, had been suspended from service for his alleged nexus with bootleggers operating between Maharashtra and Gujarat.

The Congress party spokesman said liquor worth crores of rupees was being smuggled into Gujarat from the neighbouring states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and the Union Territory of Daman and Nagar Haveli where there are distilleries and breweries.

Dr Doshi cited the state government’s statement in the assembly which claimed the government had confiscated illicit liquor worth Rs 215 crore in two years between 2019 and 2020. He said liquor worth Rs 34 lakh was seized every day during a special drive by the police.

According to a survey conducted by the National Drug Dependents Treatment Centre of All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in 2019 which covered 2.11 lakh people in the age group of 18 to 75 years in 36 states and Union Territories, as many as 3.9 per cent of people in Gujarat were found to be habitual of consuming liquor.

Ironically, the number of such people in Rajashtan was found to be less than Gujarat, at 2.1 per cent.

In Gujarat, where prohibition has existed since it came into being in 1960, only persons who hold a health permit are legally permitted to buy and consume liquor. There are 66,000 liquor permit holders and 66 licensed liquor shops in the state.

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