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The menace of drinking: Will we ever get rid of it?

If you want your stock of booze at any odd hour of the day and there

are no liquor shops available then there is no need for worry. You only have to go to certain localities in the city and you can get your stock of liquor — any brand, any quantity — of course at a premium price.

The localities where you can get your stock of liquor are Polo market area, Jhalupara, Mawbah and Keating Road area.

These localities have several liquor shops, albeit illegal, which sell liquor throughout the day and are open 365 days a year.

Take the example of Polo Bazar for instance. There are numerous illegal liquor shops which engage in brisk business without any fear or concern for law enforcing agencies.

This scribe who had gone to Polo to witness the I-League soccer match between Shillong Lajong FC and Goa Sporting Club on Saturday, witnessed many drunkards who were coming out of these illegal liquor shops and then creating nuisance in the market area. Many of them escaped falling under the wheels of vehicles and some of them were almost falling over women and girls who had to rush to the corner to avoid these drunkards.

When this scribe spoke to some residents of Polo he was informed that these situations are a daily occurrence and people have now learnt to ‘adjust’.

When contacted, the general secretary of Greater Iew Polo Welfare Association blamed it on the Excise department saying that they have failed to keep a check on the menace of drinking which is growing at a rapid pace.

“We do not have any authority to tackle the problem on our own. We had informed the concerned authorities of this problem long time back but since no initiative was taken we have no option but to keep quiet,” he added.

The scene at Polo can also be witnessed in the twin localities of Jhalupara and Mawbah (Barapathar), where there are numerous illegal shops operating despite the presence of a police beat house in the vicinity.

There are several schools in the area, besides two hospitals (Reid Chest TB Hospital and the Goenka Hospital) which makes the situation all the more alarming.

The illegal liquor shops are open at all hours of the day, even on holidays and dry days.

The area is so crowded on Sundays that one would be mesled into believing that there is a mini fair going on. People from all around the city descend at Jhalupara on Sunday for their intake of liquor, much to the consternation of local residents.

Residents of Jhalupara have expressed their surprise over the functioning of the Shillong Cantonment Board (SCB) under which the area falls.

“Though the SCB deserves praise for banning use of polythene bags in the area to save the deteriorating environment, they have somehow failed to crack down on the menace of drinking,” the residents said.

Last week a police team conducted raids on several illegal liquor shops in the area and seized a large quantity of liquor bottles, but these shops were back on track this weekend doing brisk business and drawing large number of drinkers.

Another locality where people can buy their stock of liquor especially during the night hours is Keating Road. Here the business is conducted in a ‘safe’ manner, if you can call it. Customers can order their favourite liquor, of course at a higher price, but the payment has to be made in advance. The businessman (or businesswoman in some cases) then goes to his ‘safe house’ which is located nearby and returns back with the order. It may be noted that in all the places, law enforcing agencies have their presence. However the menace has been only increasing in the recent days.

One exasperated resident of Jhalupara said, “Mizoram is a dry state, yet it is unable to ensure a total prohibition. Here drinking is a way of life. We can never get rid of this menace.”

Strong comment but at the same time a grim reality. (ST)

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