Drunken driving deaths spur Barmer village to take pledge against liquor
People of a village in Rajasthan’s Barmer district took a pledge to stop taking alcohol and shut down a liquor vend after three young men died due to drunken driving on July 9.
The liquor shop at Mithdau village, 100 km from the district headquarters, was shut down on Thursday after the villagers organised a sit-in before the vend for 16 days. The villagers said they would start a detoxification drive for addicts and spread awareness about the harms of consuming liquor to other villages.
The three drunk young men died when their vehicle collided with a school bus, villagers said. One died on the spot and two in a hospital. The deaths prompted villagers to hold a meeting on July 16 to discuss the disturbing effects of alcohol consumption. The elders said most young men of the village were addicted to alcohol.
During the meeting, 75-year-old Amolakhdas Bhanbhu stood up and said, “I cannot see my village perish because of this bad habit. Please quit drinking or I will leave the village.”
Bhanbhu’s words rang in everyone’s ears and the village collectively took a pledge against drinking. Those who consume liquor stood up and took an oath before everyone that they will quit drinking.
The next day some villagers went to the district collector’s office and told the officer about their decision not to consume alcohol. They demanded that the liquor vend at Mithdau be closed.
Officials didn’t pay heed to their demand initially, but when the villagers picketed outside the liquor shop for 16 days, the administration gave in. Villagers celebrated their victory as an auspicious occasion by distributing sugar in the village.
Bhanwarlal Choudhary, an excise department official, said that considering the villagers’ opposition, they have shifted the Mithdau liquor shop to a nearby village.
“Now that we have pledged against drinking alcohol, we will organise treatment of those who are addicted to it to help them stop drinking. Alcohol is ruining families in our village and is the major cause for atrocities against women,” said Laxmanram Kaga, a villager.
Village sarpach Mukesh Kumar Khamboo said, “Our initiative is not limited to Mithdau; we will go to nearby villages to make people aware about ill effects of this habit. We will try to get a total ban on alcohol in the region.”