Editorial: Ban on liquor is long overdue

Srinagar: Last week the government said that a bill seeking a total ban on liquor sale and consumption in the state of Jammu and Kashmir can be considered. The announcement came from the Minister for Law and Justice who had to face a tough opposition in the state assembly after the house rejected the private members bill in this regard.

The issue came up for discussion during which various legislators took on the government for being non-serious over the issue. However, a surprising development has been witnessed on the liquor ban issue after Hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani demanded a blanket ban on use and sale of liquor in the state. Geelani cited prohibition in other states and demanded that the state of Jammu and Kashmir should announce a ban immediately.

Geelani appealed to religious scholars to launch a sustained campaign against the use of liquor and make people aware about its ill effects on health, society and family relations.

Pertinently, Bihar, Gujarat and Nagaland have banned alcohol while Kerala too had introduced partial prohibition.

The consumption of alcohol in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is highly tilted in favour of one region. Though the state is the only Muslim majority state, its subjects have high religious consciousness due to presence of vast numbers of Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist shrines spread across the length to breadth of its area.

Still the ban on the use of alcohol has not been put in place as the reasons are more political in nature rather than religious. It is a fact the that Jammu known world over as city of temples is also known as city of wine shops. The city has around 135 wine shops.

Jammu city consumes 45% of total alcohol that is consumed in the state. There are a total of 257 wine shops and bars in the state with Kashmir division having only four licensed wine shops.

There are 51 excise licences existing on the name of women in Jammu region and one in Kashmir. But it seems that the government is not interested in seeking a ban on the consumption and sale of alcohol as the government issued a new circular under SRO-157 in 2017 for framing excise rules. The aim of the controversial policy is to maximise revenue realization besides creating social consciousness about harmful effects of alcohol and alcoholic brewages.           

Though the SRO stresses on creating awareness about the ill effects of alcohol but on the same page it states the new JKEL-2 licences shall be granted in un served, underserved areas taking tehsil as basic unit in rural areas and municipal wards in urban areas with five years validity and premium over and above annual fee.

Interestingly, all religions have endorsed the ill effects of liquor. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is a Muslim majority state-therefore the ban becomes all the more relevant.

The ill effects of consumption of alcohol are social, medical, mental and total addiction and dependence. It is very addictive and a prolonged use affects overall personality of an individual with social boycott, deteriorating health conditions, mental disorders, sleep disorders and finally total physiological dependence where the patient cannot even plan his daily needs. Besides, the social implications of liquor are proving to be too grave and the society has to take a call on this crucial issue.




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