In rural areas of Himachal Pradesh, women are at the forefront of protests against the sale of liquor. Women of different villages have been protesting and demanding the shutting down of liquor vends in their respective areas.
On Monday, women of Kotgarh village protested outside a liquor vend, claiming that passersby have “easy access to i”.
“We have seen many people stopping their vehicle here and purchasing liquor. The vend is also responsible for the deteriorating atmosphere of the area,” Kotgarh Mahila Mandal Pradhan Bimla Singha told Hindustan Times. “We have written to the panchayat, urging them to shut down the vend. It is a long-pending demand of ours,” Singha said.
Instances of women protesting against liquor trade have been steadily increasing in different parts of the state.
Earlier, Mandi’s Cheuni panchayat passed a resolution banning liquor and cigarette. Alleging that the administration defied the resolution and still alloted liquor vends, it also knocked on the high court’s door seeking justice.
Cheuni Panchayat head Indira Devi said the entire panchayat had passed the resolution banning liquor. “Government is talking about drug de-addiction and simultaneously promoting liquor sale — both these things are contradictory,” she said.
Chansari panchayat in Kullu district had also staged a protest outside the deputy commissioner’s office, seeking closing of liquor vends. Panchayat head Subhash Thakur said the panchayat decided to close down liquor shop last February but the administration was yet to take any action. “We often see schoolchildren consuming liquor, which is unfortunate,” he said. Even in Majharien panchayat, located in the vicinity of Shimla, villagers have been demanding shutting of liquor vends. In Shilai area of Sirmaur district, villagers even vandalised one such vend.
Narkanda block development committee chairperson Meera Sharma said that last year the entire state took part in a campaign to eradicate cannabis and opium. “The tirade against drugs should continue and this includes liquor. Government should realise that our youth is turning into drug addicts and liquor is easily available,” she said. The government, however, feels legal liquor trade is important to check illegal trade.
Himachal has 1,900 liquor vends of which more than 400 have been shut after Supreme Court’s booze ban on highways. Earlier, 800 vends were supposed to shut down but the government downgraded 17 state highways to major district roads. The government is eyeing a revenue of approximately ₹1,400 crore from liquor trade.