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Gujarat’s prohibition law friendly to tourists but sends residents to jail

india Updated: Dec 17, 2016 07:56 IST
Hiral Dave

Gujarat’s prohibition policy became tourist-friendly in the last few years of the Narendra Modi govt.(Raj K Raj/HT File Photo)

A dry state for almost six decades, Gujarat has now made its prohibition law even more stringent. But that’s only for locals who could now end up in jail for three years and pay a hefty Rs 5 lakh fine if caught with a liquor bottle.

For visitors and tourists though it’s good cheer as access to alcohol has been made easier. The guests can raise a toast by just walking into the hotel liquor shop and furnishing certain documents.

Now, a click of the mouse can get them the permit required to consume liquor in Gujarat.

That’s two sides of the Gujarat prohibition model — strict for residents and friendly for tourists.

The prohibition policy started becoming tourist-friendly during the last few years of the Narendra Modi rule in the state and remained so under his successor Anandiben Patel, with more and more hotels getting licences to run liquor shops. Besides, the process for on-arrival permits at airports and hotels and even e-permits had been eased.

And now, the Vijay Rupani government that faces crucial assembly elections next year seems to have succumbed to the demands of two electorally important communities — OBCs and Patidars — to make the law tougher for locals.

“For the promotion of world class business events like the biennial Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit (VGGIS) and tourism fairs like Rann Utsav (Desert Festival) — both conceived and promoted by Narendra Modi as Gujarat chief minister — the home department had to accept the suggestions of the tourism department to ease the prohibition policy for visitors,” said a top official from the home department.

On the other hand, the government on Thursday, while announcing an ordinance for stricter punishments to tipplers and bootleggers, called it the need of the hour.

“These (amendments) will help stop social, economical and moral deterioration of society,” said minister of state for home Pradeepsinh Jadeja.

Under their leader Alpesh Thakor, the OBC communities that account for 40 per cent of Gujarat’s over six crore population, had joined hands with SCs and STs to press for a stricter prohibition law and its better implementation.

Thakor also got support from Hardik Patel, who is spearheading the Patidar quota agitation, and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani.

Besides Patidars and OBCs, the Rupani government also aims to win over women voters with Thursday’s ordinance.