Liquor flows free in 'dry' Gujarat

Despite stringent laws in place to prohibit it, liquor apparently flows free in "dry" Gujarat

IANS Photo
IANS Photo


Despite stringent laws in place to prohibit it, liquor apparently flows free in "dry" Gujarat.

In June, Bhesan village (Junagadh district - Saurashtra) Sarpanch announced that if any one is caught intoxicated, the person will be punished by the village panchayat.

Defending the decision, Sarpanch Jaysingh Bhati said the drinking problem had increased in the village, 15 to 20 women have become widows because of alcohol, as their husbands died because of addiction in the last two years.

On Sunday night, Valsad police arrested BJP leaders and workers partying in Dharampur. A day after on Monday, police arrested Lunavada's former MLA Hirabhai Patel's son Maharshi with 39 bottles of IMFL and beer. Hirabhai has recently joined BJP.

These examples are just the tip of an iceberg indicating how the liquor is flowing in Gujarat, where prohibition is implemented in the name of Gandhiji, but the government and police are never serious in implementing the policy in letter and spirit, alleged political opponents.

"Gandhiji never believed in enforcing prohibition by law, as he saw it as socio-economic issue and not a law an order issue, he was aware that women are sufferer of male's liquor addiction, so he encouraged women for picketing at liquor dens, which worked successful, the true sense of picketing was never understood," expressed Uttambhai Parmar, noted Gandhian.

Empowering police to raid and search liquor dens or illegal manufacturing has worsened the situation, they are least interested in implementing the prohibition, on the contrary they encourage and threaten bootleggers to continue the business and pay them hefty bribes for the same, alleged Parmar.

"Intentionally the policy is loosely implemented, because the loopholes have created a parallel economy, from the bottom of the police department to top brass including politicians are making huge money, so why will they implement it strictly," questions Arjun Modhwadia, senior leader of Congress party.

Parmar and Modhwadia are against lifting prohibition, both strongly believe even for namesake the prohibition is implemented, it is moral binding giving a hope of social security to women.

Disagreeing with the above two, veteran politician Shankersinh Vaghela firmly believes, "Government has no right to decide what should people eat, drink or wear," and he questions, "Was Gandhiji only of Gujarat, he is an international icon and influencer, then why prohibition in Gujarat only?, when liquor is not prohibited in neighbouring states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and union territory Dadra Nagar Haveli and Diu- Daman, it is next to impossible to strictly implement prohibition in Gujarat."

Vaghela strongly advocated, "Majority members of the legislative assembly should pass resolution lifting prohibition." He proposed that the government should give license to educated tribal youths to manufacture liquor from Mahuda, the same way in Saurashtra koli community should be licensed to manufacture liquor, these liquors can be marketed with labels of Mahuda, rice, Molasses, this will make them self-reliant.

Women are safe even in the states where there is no prohibition, a myth is marketed in Gujarat about women's safety, on the contrary more people are dying in the state because of drinking spurious alcohol, argues Vaghela.

When IANS contacted Minister of State for Home and Prohibition Harsh Sanghvi, his office assured to revert, but till this report is filed, there is no communication from him or his office.

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