While women throughout Himachal Pradesh are up in arms over liquor vends mushrooming in their villages, a women’s organisation in Nerti village, 25km from Dharamsala, is actually fighting to save one.
Administrative officials at the district headquarters were taken by surprise when nearly 50 members of the Sanjeevni Nari Shakti Sangathan submitted a memorandum urging the government not to close the liquor vend in their village.
According to them, bootleggers allegedly sell alcohol in the village anyway. So, according to them, a liquor vend in the village is a lesser evil.
"Recently, a clash took place at the village vend and it has left one of its employees seriously injured. Now, the contractor is also receiving life threats. We don’t want a bloodbath in our village," said Indra, president of the organisation.
Alleging that relatives of the some local panchayat functionaries are also involved in the illegal trade, she said: "This liquor vend has affected the business of smugglers here so they want it to be removed forcefully."
However, the village head has a different story to tell. Rajeshwari Rana, president of the village panchayat, said the liquor vend was within the 20-metre radius of a government school, so the villagers wanted to either get it closed or shifted to some other place.
The rule book says that a liquor vend cannot be built within 100 metres of any educational institution.
"The place has turned into a virtual retreat for anti-social elements. People pick up fights in inebriated condition and create nuisance for passersby," Rana said.
Talking about the organisation shielding the liquor vend, she said that it was already under the scanner of the local panchayats for its dubious activities.
Meanwhile, district administration officials, who have visited the village many a time after the clash took place, have set a deadline of June 30 to either close or shift the vend.