Tamil Nadu

Long queues, umbrellas used to reserve spots, as TASMAC outlets open across Tamil Nadu

A man in Madurai was overjoyed after buying liquor at as Tasmac outlet in Madurai   | Photo Credit: G. Moorthy

Even before Tasmac liquor outlets opened on Thursday in Tamil Nadu, after being shut for 43 days due to the COVID-19 lockdown, several umbrellas were seen lying in front of the outlets in Tiruppur city, purportedly an attempt by tipplers to reserve their spots.

On Tuesday, Tiruppur District Collector K. Vijayakarthikeyan had announced that umbrellas were mandatory for those who wanted to purchase liquor. Customers must wait in the queues under their umbrellas to ensure personal distancing, he had said.

Following the opening of the outlets at 10 a.m., liquor seekers were seen holding umbrellas while waiting in queues across the city. Many roadside shops in the city have been selling umbrellas and masks since Wednesday near the Tasmac outlets. According to local sources, umbrellas which were usually priced at ₹100, were sold for as high as ₹180.

A senior officer with Tiruppur City Police said that nearly 950 police personnel were deployed across the city on Thursday to monitor the crowds and any violations outside the Tasmac outlets. However, there were not as many crowds as expected in most of the outlets on Thursday morning, according to the officer.

Meanwhile, rumours abounded on Thursday morning that crackers were burst and cakes were distributed to celebrate the reopening of the Tasmac outlets in M.S. Nagar. However, Tiruppur North police clarified that it was done for a birthday celebration and that a case was registered against four persons.

District Administration officials said that 217 out of 238 Tasmac outlets will function across Tiruppur district from Thursday. Outlets found violating the guidelines laid down by the District Administration will be closed, officials said.

In Madurai, there was much excitement among liquor-lovers as Tasmac outlets opened, amidst protest from sections of women and Opposition parties.

Out of the 122 retail shops selling Indian-made foreign liquor in Madurai city, except for seven shops that fell in containment zones, all other shops were open with police bandobust, a police officer said.

At least 50 to 100 persons were in the queues outside many shops.

However, one shop in K. Pudur had over 200 persons lining up for their turn and another in Bibikulam, witnessed over 250 persons queuing up. Deployment of police ensured that people followed social distancing norms.

Scores of women and children from Sellur, attempted to block the opening of the two shops in the locality. Though they managed to close the shop for a while, additional police personnel that arrived there forced them disperse and shops were opened again.

Despite the State government announcing that only people above 50 years of age will be allowed to buy liquor upto 1 p.m., a relatively younger man, managed to grab four bottles of liquor.

Merely touching the bottles made him him ecstatic, so much so that he kissed them. Just as he came out of the barricaded area, he placed the bottles on the ground and worshipped them with his folded hands raised above his head.

“My 40-day fasting has come to an end,” he shouted unmindful of people watching him and then quickly vanished.

K. Parijatham (40), a local resident, complained that the opening of Tasmac shops is only going to re-kindle the urge of drinking among the poor people who had almost forgotten the habit.

“In the last 43 days many had not drunk. Family quarrels have come down. But, now the men will borrow money for drinking and start beating their wives and children,” she said.

When places of worships are closed, several shops remain closed and even tea-stalls are not allowed to open, why should the government should allow Tasmac shops to function, wondered, P. Karnan, another resident of the locality.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 6:13:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/long-queues-umbrellas-used-to-reserve-spots-as-tasmac-outlets-open-across-tamil-nadu/article31524254.ece

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