Dozens of angry women have been invading liquor shops, yelling at top of their voices smashing bottles and scaring away the tipplers and liquor shop owners alike for the last couple of days.
The sight that is enough to scare away Bacchus has become a trend ever since these vends started relocating to sidestep a Supreme Court order banning liquor shops along state and national highways.
Of the 8500 highway liquor vends affected by the apex court’s order, 5334 have shifted inside the limits set by court. This relocation has resulted in shops coming closer to residential areas; a move that has angered many women who feel easier access to alcohol could make their men go astray.
So the women in UP, especially in rural areas are doing everything they possibly can to scare the liquor shop owners.
From Faizabad to Bulandshahr and from Ambedkarnagar to Hapur it’s a common sight. If they aren’t busy smashing liquor bottles, they are blocking highways instead with the same intention - to highlight the demand for relocation of liquor vends.
Deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya has assured women that the government would ensure their demands are looked into. “We will do what best we can,” he said.
“Wine shop owners are making profits at the cost of our health and peace of society. We will not allow this,” said Shalini Johri, a Bareilly-based city councillor who was among the protesters.
“We do not wish to disturb the peace of any area by shifting there. If the government will not suggest any place to relocate, we will be forced to do it ourselves,” said Mahant Kumar, manager at a wine shop in Bareilly, which was closed following the court order.
In Faizabad, women of Ankaripur village forced the police to close down a beer shop that was being relocated in their village. In Ambedkarnagar a group of angry women blocked the Akbarpur-Tanda highway for the same reason giving goosebumps to licensees of liquor vends.
“What can we do? Our interests are being affected. We invested so much money in this business. Now, the Supreme Court doesn’t want us on highways and these women don’t want us further inside. Where do we go now? The police needs to protect our interest too,” said Prateek Jaiswal, owner of the one of the liquor vends near Ambedkarnagar.
In Kanpur many women angered by the fact that some displaced liquor shop owners started operating from residential premises in Shyam Nagar, Macharia and Gujaini virtually barged inside the shops and broke liquor bottles.
“We placated them after great difficulty. Only after we assured them that liquor outlets won’t operate from residential areas did they agree to call off their agitation,” a police official said.
Residents of Kalayanpur to Indira Nagar Road off the highway have threatened action if the shop was not removed from here soon.
The wine shops were closed on Kanpur-Aligarh Highway (from Ramadevi to Bilhaur), Hamirpur-Sagar Highway (from Naubasta to Ghatampur Yamuna bridge) Mughal Road Moosanagar to Chaudgara in Ghatampur, Etawa-Lucknow Highway (from Bilhaur to Nanamau), Chaubepur to Bidhuna Road and from Ramadevi to Kanpur Dehat.
Similar reports have been received from Ballia, Hapur, Moradabad and Deoria. “It’s the same situation everywhere,” an excise department official said.