Srinagar: The state governments denial of providing a license coupled with protests and backlash from civil society members, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) formally withdrew the tender inviting bids to operate a duty paid liquor shop in the premises of International Airport, Srinagar.
J&K Excise Department today in a letter directed to the Director of Srinagar Airport stated that the department shall not grant License for opening of a liquor shop/vend in violation to the provisions of J&K Excise Act,1958 and liquor license and Sales rule, 1984.
“It is further intimated that opening of liquor vend /shop at the International Airport Srinagar will not be allowed/permitted as such you may stop the process for any such proposal, as the Excise Department will not grant the license required for opening of liquor vend/ shop at International Airport Srinagar,” the letter addressed to the Director of Srinagar Airport, a copy of which is lying with ‘Kashmir Vision’ said.
Interestingly, soon after receiving the governments dictum, the AAI announced cancellation of the tender process of duty paid liquor shop with immediate effect.
“It is observed through social media/media that a section of society is against having duty paid liquor shop at Srinagar International Airport and honouring local sentiments, AII has decided to cancel the tender process of duty paid liquor shop with immediate effect,” an official handout from Airport Authority of India said.
AAI said that it believes and works towards better facilities for its passengers and endeavors to cater for more and more passenger friendly good initiatives towards customer satisfaction.
Earlier, airport director Sharad Kumar had said that the opening of the shop was aimed at providing a ‘boost’ to the tourism after low tourist arrivals were witnessed since last year.
The opening of the liquor shop at the airport raised a hue and cry in the Valley with netizens and the general population denouncing the government’s decision to allow the shop in Muslim-majority region.
MLA Langate and AIP chief yesterday lashed out at government and asked them to reconsider the decision. He said that while states like Bihar have imposed a total ban on sale and purchase of liquor, there is no justification in promoting the liquor culture in J&K.
Meanwhile, apex trade body, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) also expressed serious concern at the proposal of opening a wine shop at the Srinagar Airport.
“KCCI condemns the proposal in all forms and urges the state government to take all measures to preserve and protect the unique culture of the state,” KCCI president Javed Ahmad Tenga said on Thursday.
Pertinently, religious leader Maulana Ghulam Rasool Hami yesterday said that “opening a liquor shop in Sheikh-ul-Aalam (R.A) Airport is disrespect to the name of the saint which he termed as ‘completely unacceptable’.