The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), in association with its women’s wing, will take steps to close all liquor shops, including legal ones, in tea gardens across the state from Monday.
“On Monday, a rally will be taken out from every tea garden in Assam by the ACMS and its women’s wing to protest against the government’s inaction. An effigy of excise minister Parimal Suklabaidya will be burnt as he is morally responsible for several deaths in Golaghat and Jorhat districts,” the state general secretary of the ACMS, Rupesh Gowala, told this correspondent on Sunday.
“We will make people shut down all liquor shops, including those selling handia (a traditional beer), chulai (illicit liquor), mod (illicit liquor made of jaggery) and foreign liquor. These all are killers — illegal or legal,” he added.
Awareness programmes will be held by the ACMS, along with doctors, social workers, intellectuals, village headmen and teachers.
The women’s wing of the Sangha will visit tea gardens in the villages and shut down the liquor shops.
There is a major crackdown on sale of illicit liquor, particularly in the labour colonies in tea-rich Upper Assam.
By Saturday night, Twitter and WhatsApp were buzzing with messages on drives against illicit liquor in several parts of the state. On Saturday, a tweet from the official account of Jorhat police at 6.28pm, read: “Today a drive against illicit liquor was conducted by Bandorchalia outpost and destroyed about 2,000 litres.” Three hours later, another tweet said: “Today a drive against illicit liquor was conducted by Mariani police station at Soikata T.E. and destroyed about 65 litres of illicit liquor.”
Another tweet said: “Today a drive against illicit liquor was conducted by personnel of Jorhat police station at Deoghoria and they destroyed about 200 litres of illicit liquor.”
On Saturday at 8.13pm, a tweet from Charaideo police read: “Continuing our relentless drive against illicit liquor that has been going on for more than a month now Charaideo Police has today destroyed more than 2000 litres (approx) of illicit liquor across the district...”
“Traders of illegal liquor in collusion with a few excise officials, are running the racket in several tea estates of Upper Assam and garden workers are their main customers,” a source said.
Molasses, an essential ingredient of illicit liquor, are transported in the name of cattle feed. Urea and battery oil are used to reduce fermentation time. “These ingredients are harmful to the health of the people consuming it. Mixing of the wrong quantity makes it deadly and results in tragedy,” the source added.
Dima Hasao police have announced a reward for information on illicit liquor dens.
A tweet by it said: “PS - Anyone tipping us about illicit liquor dens will be rewarded and their identity shall remain strictly confidential. Pse DM us #Golaghat.”
Local residents feel a great deal has been accomplished in 24 hours, something that could have been done earlier.