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Liquor shop face-off triggers tension at Kookalthorai

D. Radhakrishnan
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Normal life hit in village as buses did not ply; shop temporarily sealed

Angry crowd: Villagers staging a demonstration at Kookalthorai, near Kotagiri, on Thursday demanding the removal of a liquor shop. — Photo: M. Sathyamoorthy
Angry crowd: Villagers staging a demonstration at Kookalthorai, near Kotagiri, on Thursday demanding the removal of a liquor shop. — Photo: M. Sathyamoorthy

Tension prevailed for several hours at Kookalthorai, near Kotagiri, following an incident at the local liquor outlet of the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC).

Enquiries made by The Hindu revealed that on Wednesday evening a resident, Ramesh had bought a bottle containing 250 ml of liquor from the shop. Later, he returned to the shop and alleged that the liquor had been adulterated with some other intoxicating substance. It led to an exchange of words between Ramesh and the salesman Raman and locking up of the shop by the former with the latter inside.

Arrested

On being informed, police and revenue officials went to the village. They unlocked the shop and arrested Ramesh based on a complaint given by Raman.

It brought hundreds of residents of Kookalthorai and nearby villages out of their houses. Contending that such things are happening only because of the liquor shop functioning in their village, they sat on the road and demanded its removal.

Pointing out that it was a long-standing demand, they regretted that despite demonstrations and several representations nothing tangible had been done so far.

Pointing out that many villages did not have IMFL outlets, they wondered why Kookalthorai was an exception.

Lamenting that the liquor shop was located near a public distribution system outlet, the office of the Village Administrative Officer, a school and a temple, they said that it was subjecting the people in general and students, in particular, to considerable inconvenience.

On account of its presence, there was a constant fear, particularly among the women, that the youth in the area will become addicted to liquor. The shop had over the years become a source of misery as problems relating to alcoholism are on the rise.

With the villagers refusing to budge until the shop was closed, senior revenue, TASMAC and police officials, including Revenue Divisional Officer Gandhimathi, held talks till the small hours of Thursday. However, the residents stuck to their demand.

Consequently, normal life was hit at Kookalthorai as buses did not ply.

On Thursday, the shop was temporarily sealed. On the condition that it should not be opened again, the crowd dispersed.

The Superintendent of Police, S. Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar, said that since it was developing into a law and order issue, appropriate action had been taken. The police will continue to maintain vigil as Kookalthorai had for many years been associated with distillation of ‘moonshine'.

With the TASMAC outlet closed, “we want to ensure that illicit liquor does not enter the village again,” he added.

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