Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko, accompanied by 1,200 youngsters in uniform, began his 14-day 400-km padayatra from the coastal hamlet of Uvari in the district to Madurai on Wednesday to press his demand for total prohibition in Tamil Nadu

Addressing a gathering, Mr. Vaiko said Tamil Nadu, which was being systematically inundated by liquor, was witnessing heinous crimes of all sorts ever since the sale of alcohol was allowed.

The social, cultural and moral degradation in Tamil Nadu started after prohibition was lifted on July 20, 1971 despite repeated appeals made by Rajaji to the then Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

Mr. Vaiko had to undergo a brief medical examination when he was crossing the stretch between Nadar Uvari and Idaiyankudi following sudden exhaustion caused by extreme heat.

President of Gandhiya Makkal Iyakkam Thamizharuvi Manian, who released a compact disc containing Mr. Vaiko’s speech of the need for total prohibition, inaugurated the march in the presence of Sri Shantha Swamigal of Vellore, K.M. Abbas, president of Mullaperiyar Irrigation Farmers’ Association, and Rev. Fr. Barnabas.

After standing in the beach for a while, the MDMK general secretary visited St. Antony’s Church in Uvari, a famous shrine, and offered floral tributes to the portrait of Rev. Fr. Antony Soosainathan, who formed ‘St. Amalorpava Annai Mathu Vilakku Bhatha Sabha’ a century ago with the intention of liberating fishermen from the life-threatening habit.

Volunteers carried placards with anti-liquor messages and raised slogans appealing to the public to shun alcohol.

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