British Deputy High Commissioner compliments them

Goundla Rukkamma is about 55 years old, yet she is feisty. She does not hesitate to recall the abuses she hurled at ‘belt-shop’ owners in her village who were destroying families financially and socially.

“I told them that they would not be spared if they sell liquor in the village. Men and youth in the village were stooping to the level of stealing hard-earned money by wives. We could not tolerate this and decided to fight,” said Ms. Rukkamma while speaking to The Hindu.

The womenfolk in this village with a population of about 2,500 are so united that petty traders never dared to procure or sell liquor again.

“It was a three-day fight. On November 5, 2012, about 400 women in the village gathered at the Village Organisation (VO) office at about 7 a.m. leaving all the work at home as it was. Even food was not cooked. The agitation was to stop liquor sale,’’ said community activist G. Venkatamma, who took a lead role in the agitation. The women in the village were so vexed with the problem of drinking among men that they had warned the V.O. that they may not pay the loans taken so far unless the issue was addressed. The leaders of SHG groups were forced to act and they acted firmly.

The V.O. also announced a penalty of Rs. 5,000 against those who sell liquor, Rs. 500 against those who buy or consume liquor in the village and Rs. 500 as an appreciation reward for those who pass on information about drunkards.

The women are happy as no incident of drinking was reported in the village since the agitation took place. “About 90 per cent of the men stopped drinking liquor as it was not available locally or there was no one to supply it on credit.

There are however, always some black sheep who go out of the village on the pretext of work only to drink. To a major extent the issue was addressed,” said Lakshmi, whose husband has stopped drinking. British Deputy High Commissioner Richard Hyde, who visited this village, presented a gift of Rs. 10,000 to the V.O., impressed with their commitment to fight for a cause.

More In: Vijayawada