Can you imagine liquor being sold openly from under a tent or a tree? Sounds unlikely? But this is exactly the state of affairs in the state capital these days.
The undercurrent against drinking in public seems to have reached a boiling point with agitation and dharna going on in several parts of Bhopal against liquor shops being relocated to new places.
What makes these protests unusual is participation of even the ruling party workers in it against the decision of their own government.
They say the new shops were opened in residential localities despite the state government’s clear guidelines and the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s oft-repeated announcements that no new liquor shop would be opened in residential areas.
BJP leader and corporator from ward-63, Dayawati Kaithoria along with over 50 women and children have been staging a dharna in front of a country made foreign liquor (CMFL) shop in Ratnagiri locality for the past four days.
"Though, I have been working against addiction of liquor for several years and many people of my locality have given up liquor. With new shops being opened in my locality, it will directly affect the atmosphere of the locality. You can see here that a liquor shop has been opened inside a building. Nobody is listening to our plea," she rued.
An office-bearer of BJP Mahila Morcha, Archna Singh Patel, who is also sitting on dharna along with the corporator at Ratnagiri, said children and women of the locality feel uncomfortable while passing by the liquor shop.
The government should not open a liquor shop in a residential area as it directly affects the routine life of local residents, Patel said.
"Children of my locality have started talking about brand names of liquors within ten days of opening of the shop. You can imagine the immense damage to our culture in near future," she added while talking to Hindustan Times.
It's not only Ratnagiri's residents who are facing this problem, but people of certain other parts of the city too are facing the similar problem where shops have sprung up in residential areas.
The localities where people are protesting include Kamla Nagar, Gulmohar, Ravishnakar Nagar, Semara in Ashoka Garden, Barkhedi Kalan, Chhoda Mandir.
VD Sharma, a resident of Rishikalp colony situated on Ayodhya Bypass road, said that the shop of country made liquor, which was earlier situated outside the locality, has been shifted in front of his colony.
An officer-bearer of BJP Jeevan Maran, who is leading the protest in Barkhedi Kalan, said that there were several educational institutes in the area. "The shop has been opened under a tent just about 50 metre away from a school. There are several schools and colleges around the shops. We will not call off our dharna until the shop is shifted," he said.
Contacted, the district collector Nishant Warwade said it was a policy matter. "It is not my decision. It is a policy matter, I can't do anything," he said.