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TOI: Garhwal students prefer jobs to liquor vends

The Times of India, 17 March 1999

DEHRA DUN: Even as the concerned state government agencies in the Garhwal hills are preparing for the annual auction of liquor vends, which is usually held in March, protests are being made again against the ever-increasing sale of liquor in the hills. Anti-liquor movement has a long history in Uttarakhand.

Not long ago, a student had set himself afire in the high altitude district of Pithoragarh in Kumoun region, to protest against the open sale of liquor.

Once again the university students in Shrinagar(Garhwal), have launched a campaign against the sale of liquor in Garhwal.

They are not only holding protest demonstrations, but also staging a dharna outside the liquor vends, discouraging prospective buyers.

On Monday, they took out a rally in the town to demonstrate their anger against the state-sponsored sale of liquor.

Nasha nahin rozgar do (Give us jobs not liquor) is their age-old slogan, which forms the main theme of their demonstration. They have revived the agitation once again.

In the past also students have held anti-liquor rallies demanding jobs as there are fewer government jobs available in the 12 hill districts at any given point of time. The question of getting employed in the private sector does not arise, as the hilly area is a zero industry area. There are no industries worth the name in the hills. According to a rough estimate, while this is so, the number of liquor shops and addicts among a population of 65 lakhs, is increasing at an incredible rate. Per person the liquor consumption in the hills is stated to be somewhere near 275 millilitres.

“Despite this situation, the successive state governments have been aiming at earning higher revenue through the sale of liquor in the backward hilly region,” says Kamla Pant, a Uttarakhand Mahila Sangrarh Samiti leader. She reiterates the stand taken by Mahila Mangal Dal for a total ban on the sale of liquor in the Uttarakhand region, as was done in 1969, on the eve of Mahatama Gandhi’s centenary celebrations.

At a meeting held in a college here, under the auspice of University Womens’ Association, Bajaj award winner Radhaben, who has been relentlessly working for the upliftment of womenfolk in the Uttarakhand hills, also stressed the need for fighting the ever-spreading habit of drinking among men in the region.