Other States

Move to open liquor shops in red zones ridiculous: AIMIM leader

Waiting eagerly: People queue up outside a wine shop in Pune, before it opens for the day, on Monday.

Waiting eagerly: People queue up outside a wine shop in Pune, before it opens for the day, on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Jignesh Mistry

Aurangabad MP urges Uddhav to cancel ration cards of those standing in queues

Aurangabad MP and All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Imtiaz Jaleel on Monday dubbed as ridiculous the State’s decision to permit standalone liquor shops to open in COVID-19 ‘red zones’ (barring containment areas). Mr. Jaleel warned that he would break lockdown rules and come out on the streets to oppose the move if a single liquor shop opened in Aurangabad city.

Mr. Jaleel urged Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to cancel the ration cards of those standing in queues to buy liquor and said the government’s decision was bound to have unpleasant social repercussions.

“If these people have the money to buy liquor, then they should be utilising it to buy foodgrain for their families. It is shameful that the Maharashtra government has taken this decision, especially as Aurangabad is in the ‘red zone’ with COVID-19 cases surging by the day,” he told The Hindu.

Mr. Jaleel said he had written to Mr. Thackeray on this issue besides drawing his attention over social media, but had not received any response thus far.

“[Maharashtra] Govt. decides to open liquor shops even in red zone! If shops in Aurangabad open then we will break all lockdown restrictions & forcibly close down these shops. Will make many women come out on streets. This is not time to sell liquor & create problems for our mothers and sisters,” Mr. Jaleel had tweeted.

The first-time MP from Aurangabad alleged that a huge pressure group led by the liquor lobby in the State was acting to influence the government to open liquor shops and claimed that a massive amount of money had changed hands in bringing this decision about.

“The pretext of generating much-needed revenue from liquor in the backdrop of the economic crisis brought about by COVID-19 does not hold water as Maharashtra is a rich, progressive State. There are poorer States who are coping with the lockdown despite a ban on liquor shops… I strongly urge the CM to probe those politicians who have benefited monetarily from the powerful liquor lobby,” Mr. Jaleel said.

Questioning the government’s hurry to sell liquor in this hour of crisis, he demanded to know that why was liquor being granted this privilege over other commodities.

“In that case, why not permit other shops to open as well? Going by the scenes witnessed on Monday in Pune, Solapur, Kolhapur and other areas in Maharashtra, the police appear to be having a tough time managing the long queues outside liquor shops,” Mr. Jaleel said.

Holding breweries in Aurangabad accountable for guzzling water sorely needed in Marathwada, the MP alleged that brewery owners had not contributed a penny from their corporate social responsibility funds towards providing any kind of medical aid to help those fighting the pandemic.

He further said while he had been appreciative of the good work done by Mr. Thackeray in combating COVID-19, this single decision threatened to erase all the goodwill hitherto garnered by the CM.

“The ramifications of this decision will be disastrous. Besides burdening an already harried administration and the police force, it will needlessly aggravate social problems. The cases of domestic violence are bound to rise,” Mr. Jaleel said.

Apart from Mumbai, kilometre-long queues were witnessed in several areas in Pune outside wine shops with people showing scant regard for social distancing and other lockdown norms. In Nashik, the police resorted to force to control lines outside liquor shops.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 3:35:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/move-to-open-liquor-shops-in-red-zones-ridiculous-aimim-leader/article31506108.ece

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