Paradip, Dec. 17: Local people, who had spearheaded an anti-liquor campaign at a few villages in Jagatsinghpur district, are now paying the price for their crusade.
Villagers have ostracised about 20 families from Andhoti and Badadihi villages. The crusaders fought against alcoholism and drug addiction leading to the arrest of hooch traders and peddlers.
An administrative probe has been ordered into the incident.
The local residents, mostly consisting of youths, had launched a movement against alcoholism. The activists had carried out door-to-day campaign to spread awareness. They organised many meetings to fight against those, who had dealt with illicit liquor and contraband.
Their endeavour had finally paid dividends. On December 5, the villagers launched a crackdown and intercepted the ganja trader. The contraband worth Rs 7 lakh has been seized from his possession, said Binod Behari Mohanty, a local resident, who had led the anti-liquor campaign.
“The excise personnel rushed to arrest the culprit and seized the ganja haul. It was a moral victory for us. However, the liquor mafias are seeking revenge and want to settle scores. They are doing all that they can to intimidate us. We have been threatened of dire consequences in the event the campaign continues. Villagers have received threats and have been asked to socially boycott the families of the campaigners. The influential illicit liquor mafia emboldened by political patronage are running a parallel administration in the village,” he said.
“The villagers are maintaining safe distance from us out of fear of retaliation by the liquor mafia. As a last resort, we have sought the officials’ intervention for an early end to our plight,” he said.
Jagatsinghpur sub-collector Jagabandhu Bhol said: “On receipt of grievance petition, government officials have rushed to the village. The administration is intent on ensuring safety of the affected villagers. Raids are being conducted to nab the illicit liquor and ganja peddlers.”
The department has maintained vigil on illicit liquor and bootlegging. “In several places, the excise department has cracked down on such illegal outlets after the villagers tipped us off,” he said.