Dry days ahead: MP, Chhattisgarh all set to follow Bihar’s lead on prohibition
Two BJP-ruled states in northern India – Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh – are all set to follow Bihar’s lead by effecting total prohibition within their borders in the coming years.
A few days after hinting at the imposition of a complete liquor ban on Madhya Pradesh in a phased manner, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday said alcohol was “generally” the cause of sexual harassment cases in the state.
Chouhan has reportedly come under pressure from ongoing anti-liquor protests as well as decisions made by Nitish Kumar and Raman Singh, his counterparts in Bihar and Chhattisgarh, to effect total prohibition in their states.
Kumar had spoken on the need for total prohibition during visits to both Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh in the recent past. Singh called on Kumar in Patna on Tuesday, following which he announced that liquor sale would initially be banned in villages with a population of up to 3,000 people.
The ban has already been imposed on villages with a population of up to 2,000 people, the Chhattisgarh chief minister said, adding that liquor is currently being sold only from government outlets.
Addressing administrative and police officers during the Samadhan online programme on Tuesday, Chouhan declared that “the government belonged to the people, not liquor sellers”.
“Nothing matter more than the dignity of women and human life. It has generally been observed that liquor is behind criminal incidents such as eve-teasing,” he said.
During the Narmada Seva Yatra held a couple of days ago, the Madhya Pradesh chief minister had spoken of imposing total prohibition on the state in a phased manner. “The state is moving towards alcohol prohibition in a phased manner. Liquor shops have been closed down in areas close to the Narmada river. Liquor shops located near residential localities, religious places, national highways and educational institutes should be shifted. There should be no lacklustre approach in this regard. The officers should change their mindset as far as revenue earned through liquor shops is concerned,” an official spokesperson quoted him as saying.
Liquor shops that cannot be shifted would be closed down “in a legal manner”, he added. Chouhan also asked officials to clamp down on the sale of illicit liquor, promising to bring about stringent provisions to this effect.
The state has been witnessing widespread protests against shifting liquor shops from highways to residential areas in the light of a recent Supreme Court order.
Madhya Pradesh is considered one of the most unsafe states in the country as far as women’s safety is concerned. In 2015, it recorded 4,391 rapes – the highest in the country – and 8,049 cases of assault on women with the intent of outraging their modesty.
The state also witnessed 57 cases of attempted rape during this period.