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Uttarakhand youth firm on fighting for liquor ban

The Times of India News Service, Sunday 5 April 1998

LUCKNOW: Battling for life, 22-year-old Nirmal Pandit from Pithoragarh district, now admitted with over 70 per cent burn injuries in the King George’s Medical College hospital here, has not given up hope to relaunch his crusade against the sale of liquor in the UP hills.

Pandit, who is a student leader, attempted self-immolation on March 27 at the Pithoragarh collectorate compound in protest against the auction of liquor vends in the hill region.

Speaking to The Times of India News Service, Pandit said he had written to the Prime Minister and chief minister Kalyan Singh a fortnight before the auction at Pithoragarh on March 27.

“On March 27, I along with my college friends led a protest against the auction at the collectorate. When our demand went in vain, I poured kerosene on my legs and set myself on fire ,” he said.

Pandit, who also participated in the Uttarakhand movement of 1994, said he would not give up his fight. He said liquor was a major problem with men in the hill region blowing all their income on liquor. He said the women had to suffer because of this.

Women are reported to have thronged the district hospital in Pithoragarh where Pandit was initially admitted. He was later shifted to Lucknow on the local district magistrate’s insistence.