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regular-article-logo Sunday, 21 April 2024

Locals protest against liquor shops in Jammu and Kashmir, demand closure

Liquor was freely available in the Valley before militancy but many residents stayed away for religious and cultural reasons

Muzaffar Raina Srinagar Published 30.05.23, 04:52 AM
The sale and consumption of liquor were banned by militants in 1991, with large sections of the population apparently backing their campaign.

The sale and consumption of liquor were banned by militants in 1991, with large sections of the population apparently backing their campaign. Representational picture

The Jammu and Kashmir government is facing increasing protests from the locals against the opening of liquor shops in newer areas across the Union Territory, with South Kashmir’s Qazigund township being the latest to join the agitation.

Qazigund observed a shutdown on Monday for a few hours against the opening of the first liquor shop in the area. The locals demanded that the government close down the shop.

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“We do not want to see our children turn into alcohol addicts. We are already facing an onslaught of drugs. Liquor addiction will create newer problems for us,” a shopkeeper said.

The office-bearer of Qazigund Traders Association, Ghulam Geelani, said the locals staged a protest and raised slogans demanding the shop’s closure.

“The shop opened a couple of days back. We fear it will have a bad impact on the area. Additionally, there are some religious places nearby and people see it as an affront to these places,” he said.

Both Jammu and Kashmir have seen several such protests for months against the opening of liquor shops. Local BJP leaders have also sought their closure in the past.

On May 10, residents of the border area of Uri took to the streets after a liquor shop came up at Lagama. The protesters included members of Muslim, Pandit and Sikh communities.

Hundreds of people also took to the streets in Jammu’s Rajouri district last month to seek the closure of a recently opened liquor shop in Kotranka.

Kotranka resident Mohammad Shafi said the government was unfazed by the protests and the shop continued to function.

Liquor was freely available in the Valley before militancy but many residents stayed away for religious and cultural reasons.

The sale and consumption of liquor were banned by militants in 1991, with large sections of the population apparently backing their campaign.

Government efforts later saw only a shop or two reopen, that too in heavily secured localities in Srinagar.

With Jammu and Kashmir witnessing momentous changes following the scrapping of the special status in 2019, the administration decided to open more shops in the Valley.

The administration identified 183 new locations — 116 in Jammu and 67 in Kashmir — the for sale of liquor. The move faced a lot of opposition but the government refused to budge.

Last year, militants lobbed a grenade at a newly opened wine shop in Baramulla, killing an employee and injuring three others.

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