Village panchayats, police implement strict laws to curb hooch tragedy in Gujarat

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Learning lessons from the recent hooch tragedy in Gujarat’s Botad and Ahmedabad districts where 41 people lost their lives and 100 others have been hospitalised, several village panchayats along with Gujarat police are now working towards implementing liquor prohibition strictly across the state.

The village panchayats have now decided to voluntarily implement liquor prohibition strictly in their villages while the Gujarat Police are also conducting raids on liquor dens operating in the state.

On Wednesday morning, with help of beating a drum, the liquor ban in Juna Navda village of Botad district was announced to create awareness among people about the ill-effects of consuming alcohol.

The village Sarpanch has decided to lodge a criminal complaint against any person caught drinking, buying, selling or storing liquor.

Tapi district’s Rani Amba group gram panchayat, too, has passed a similar resolution regarding liquor ban in the district.

On the other hand, Gujarat Police is taking swift action against the liquor mafia operating in the state. For example, Rajkot police have arrested 17 bootleggers and seized 155 litres of alcohol in 36 hours while Mehsana police conducted raids at 200 liquor dens under 20 police station areas and have registered 90 cases. Panchmahal police have registered 192 cases in seven days, said press statements of respective district police.

Chhotaudepur District Superintendent of Police, Dharmendra Sharma said that in just three days, 100 cases were registered against those violating liquor prohibition law implemented in the state.

Such liquor prohibition initiatives may not produce long-term results but they will send a strong message to the society after major hooch incidents reported in the state, these are not symbolic drives, said M.D. Chaudhary, a retired police officer.

Chaudhary had investigated the 2009 hooch tragedy in Ahmedabad where 143 people had died.

The police official added that it is impossible for the police to crackdown on liquor mafia throughout the year operating in the state as they are preoccupied with other crime cases. However, the major challenge the police faces is to make specific arrangements for checking the implementation of liquor prohibition in the state.

Liquor Prohibition Act or village panchayat’s resolutions can’t stop people from consuming alcohol, it can only be stopped only when an individual decides not to consume alcohol. If people stop consuming alcohol, nobody will supply liquor illegally and there will be no hooch tragedy, says Hasmukh Patel, a social activist from north Gujarat.

He himself has volunteered in various ways to see that people in his area stop consuming liquor but he says his efforts have not been 100 per cent successful.

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