Residents of Hirapur and Chiragora protest against the liquor outlet in Dhanbad on Friday. Picture by Gautam Dey
Residents of Hirapur and Chiragora - the two oldest and largest Bengali-dominated neighbourhoods of Dhanbad - are up in arms against a licensed liquor outlet that, they say, has become a hangout of local hoodlums of late.
Fed up with frequent brawls and alleged incidents of eve-teasing, residents under the banner of Harimandir-Chiragora Chamber of Commerce and Chiragora Nagrik Samiti staged a daylong dharna near the shop on Friday and launched a signature campaign that drew response from 750 citizens.
The protest was led by president of the Harimandir Chiragora Chamber of Commerce Pradip Singh who later submitted a memorandum to deputy commissioner A. Dodde, ADM (law and order) Rakesh Dubey and deputy excise commissioner Rakesh Kumar.
Pradip Singh, a local resident, said the shop was located on Chiragora road, which connects Hirapur to Vinod Nagar and Barmasia. Although the shop has been there for three years, its customer count has increased in the past couple of months after highway booze shops were shut down to honour an SC order.
"Hundreds of people, including school and college students, use the road. Women often face lewd remarks while children get to hear abusive words. We had lodged a complaint with Dhanbad Sadar police. Two were arrested," Singh said.
Krishna Mohan Singh, a resident of Chiragora, said the neighbourhood was inhabited by educated and peace-loving families and the liquor shop was a blot. "If our signature campaign and memorandum to the deputy commissioner fails to yield the desired results, we shall launch a hunger strike," he added.
Ramesh Bandopadhyay, a resident of Professor Colony in Chiragora and a sales representative with a pharmaceutical company said the area became unsafe after sundown.
B.N. Roy, a railway contractor, said his family had been living in the colony for three generations, but had never felt so jittery before.
Deputy excise commissioner Rakesh Kumar said he had received a complaint about "unlawful assembly" outside the shop and had instructed its licensed owner, Prateek Kumar, to shift base. "Hooliganism will not be allowed at any cost. Welfare of residents is our priority."