“Ask where you don’t get liquor here,” said Ahmedabad snack seller Irshad Ahmed in reply to a query from HT.
Ahmed runs a small kiosk selling potato chips and such near Shardaben municipal hospital, which is working overtime to attend to the constant flow of hooch victims. The hospital, close to two affected localities had reported 48 deaths by Thursday evening. Many victims are critical.
“There is a stand (where one can slip in and sip country liquor) metres from my kiosk and another close by. Because of the raids, they are closed but you can still get the liquor. The price of a pouch which costs Rs 10 has now shot up to Rs 50 in the past two days after raids by authorities,” he said.
Despite such tragedies in the past, numerous complaints and protests by women’s groups, bootleggers have been making a killing here for long.
While it is women who suffer most at the hands of drunken husbands, it is often women who are used to transport and sell liquor in the state.
“There is a woman in our neighbourhood who sells the stuff. If she is stopped, the men go elsewhere,” said Madhuben Parmar, whose husband Dinesh, a labourer, is critical.
Though such a huge loss of lives is not new in Gujarat, successive governments have not displayed any serious intention to change to laws to improve implementation of prohibition since it began in 1961. “The question of a review does not arise now,” health minister Jay Narayan Vyas told HT.