'Beat the drunk hubby till he kicks the booze', is the latest mantra of the housewives in four Madhya Pradesh villages, who claim to have 'sobered' at least 20 husbands so far.
The Gulabi gang-like revolution began at Vakner village in Alirajpur district, about 280 km from Indore, as a domestic rebellion against men who came home drunk and beat up their wives for no fault of theirs. The village abounds in poverty-stricken Bhil tribe.
It all started from the house of Chamili Bai in February 2014. Her husband Ratan would do nothing for a living and even sell the household grains to buy his daily drink. But, worse was when he would start beating his wife Chamili. It was a daily torture for an elderly neigbhour Ruili Bai who couldn’t bear the cries of Chamili anymore. She ganged up all the women of the village and drew a plan to teach Ratan a lesson. They first warned him not to drink and beat up his wife. But, the next day when he got drunk again and hit his wife, the women ran to Chamili’s house and thrashed Ratan up till he promised to kick the habit, said Ruli. Ratan admitted that he had quit alcohol after the incident.
The success story spread like wildfire and the tortured housewives of the nearby Khoramba, Khatamari and Chilakda villages too followed the Ruli’s beat-hubby-sober way.
Ramji Bai of Vakner says now men don’t dare to return home drunk and beat up their wives. Suna Bai, a resident of Khatamari village, says with a pride," We have beaten about half-a-dozen men of our village till now and made them leave the habit."
Social activist Rahul Banerjee admits that the move, which looks crude, has begun to show impact. “It has definitely curbed liquor consumption to a great extent and is spreading to other villages as well."
But, what draws these men to alcohol? Social activists say the Bhils are known for their drinking habits. But, now they blame bootleggers who sell liquor to villagers right under nose of the administration and the police.
Whether the women brigade will expand its operation to liquor mafiosi, remains to be seen.