Women of Nagepur, one of the two villages Prime Minister Narendra Modi has adopted in his Lok Sabha constituency, Varanasi under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojna, want him to replicate the Gujarat policy in UP — ban liquor. The women, however, feigned ignorance about a similar ban in neighbouring state, Bihar.
Ignorant about the fact that banning liquor is the state government’s prerogative and that Modi’s BJP is not in power in Uttar Pradesh, local women, mostly from the Harijan Tola, asserted that “a PM has supreme powers and hence he should have solutions to all our problems.”
“These smooth metal roads, bus shelters, Ambedkar Park, swanky ICDS centres are of no use to us as long as the thriving hooch dens keep luring our men and ruin our lives,” said Guddi Devi, 30, who said every night her husband comes home in an inebriated state and brutally thrashes her over trivial issues.
“Nobody is helping us. We want Modiji to intervene.” She even solicited HT’s help, questioning, “So many mediapersons are visiting our village, but no one has raised the evil that plagues us.” Guddi’s husband is a labourer and so are majority of men in the village. Besides Harijans, there are Patels, Rajbhars, Maurya and Yadav — all backward castes.
Most of these men travel to Varanasi town, around 17 kilometres away, to do odd jobs. While returning, they stop by the thekas or government-licensed country-made liquor shops.
Most of the men HT spoke to agreed they drink, but declined torturing their women. “After a hard day’s work, you need a drink to relax your exhausted muscles,” said Bhotu Yadav, a farmer. He said cases of men torturing women in their families under the influence of alcohol are mostly heard in Harijan Tolas.
But Vinita Devi, the lone graduate of the village, also a literacy and rights activist, supported the liquor ban demand.
She said, due to rampant alcohol abuse, several families do not have any savings or a bank account. “Many women often come to me complaining that their husbands take away their little savings and waste them on hooch. We have written to the collector to close down all hooch dens around our village. Given a chance, we would meet the PM to drive his attention towards this social evil,” she added.
The brewing resentment has already started exploding. During a recent visit of the rural SP and other administrative officials to the village, women stood up to lodge formal complaints against the alcoholic men.
“They wanted a theka next to the primary school to be shut. I have written to the DM recommending the same. Post election, we will launch a drive to check crime related to alcohol abuse. The women need to be empowered to fight the social malady,” rural SP Ashish Tiwari said.