A group of women, dressed in pink sarees, performed a religious ceremony on Sunday near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Ranchi’s Morahbadi area to seek divine help for their drive for liquor ban in Jharkhand.
Members of Nari Shakti Sena (NSS), locally known as Gulabi Gang, have been spearheading an anti-liquor campaign and awareness drive against sale and consumption of liquor in Ranchi for the last one year.
“The voice for a complete ban on sale and consumption of liquor is resounding across Jharkhand but state politicians are apathetic. So, we performed a havan and puja seeking good sense to prevail over them so that they could understand the ill-effects of liquor consumption,” NSS president Rani Kumari said.
A survey released on June 8 said that in Jharkhand 23.4% men above the age of 15 years drink alcohol, which is the second-highest in the country after Chhattisgarh (33%).
Tribal-dominated Jharkhand also has the highest number of women drinkers in the country, followed by Chhattisgarh. The survey said 3.1% of women above the age of 15 years drink alcohol in Jharkhand.
The survey, which is a part of the nationwide sample registration system survey conducted by the Registrar General of India (RGI) in 2014, said most of the men or women drinkers are from rural areas in Jharkhand. The figure of rural men drinkers above 15 years is 26.4% while the same for urban is merely 14.5%.
Experts said both states are tribal dominated where many tribes accept alcohol socially and culturally.
In Jharkhand, women’s anti-liquor campaign gained momentum in 2014 when hundreds of them destroyed material used to produce country-made liquor in Lohardga and Gumla.
“Liquor is a big hurdle in the way of women’s empowerment. Women suffer the most economically and socially,” Kumari said.
“The state government claimed to have launched several programmes for women empowerment but when it comes to banning liquor, it maintains silence,” she added.
Last week, hundreds of women held a demonstration in Dhanbad demanding a ban on sale and consumption of liquor in the state. “We are impressed the way Nitish Kumar imposed a ban on sale and consumption of liquor in Bihar,” Rekha Mahto, who participated in the demonstration, said.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar kick-started a liquor ban drive in Jharkhand last month after he banned sale and consumption of all kinds of liquor in April in a move seen as the fulfilment of a poll promise to women.
Other than Bihar, a total ban on the sale of liquor is in force in the states of Gujarat, Nagaland and parts of Manipur; as well as in the Union territory of Lakshadweep. Kerala has been implementing prohibition in a phased manner since 2014.