Belt shops: Telugu Mahila on warpath

Special Correspondent

Support of all sections sought to stir

ONGOLE: In a novel protest, Telugu Mahila activists went round government offices and implored the employees to donate Re. 1 each as a token of support to their agitation against unauthorised liquor outlets, popularly called belt shops, in the State.

Led by the TDP State committee convenor against belt shops, T. Aruna, the activists stormed the excise office in Prakasam Bhavan where officials were collecting tenders for liquor shops. The agitators made it clear to the bidders that they would not allow belt shops to function in any of the villages and asked them not to bid high amounts for their outlets. Ms. Aruna alleged that the excise officials were hand in glove with liquor shop owners in running of belt shops in their bid to meet targets given by the government for liquor sale. She warned the bidders to keep their agitation against belt shops in view while bidding for the outlets.

Slogans raised

Later, they visited District Revenue Officer and complained that he had failed to close any of the belt shops in the district despite their several pleas. They raised slogans against liquor policy of the government. They demanded that liquor be sold only through authorised outlets. If there were no belt shops, it would provide some relief to women fold, she said.

The activists went to the municipal office and asked employees to donate for the cause.

Ms. Aruna said that there was good response from all sections of people -- autorickshaw drivers, DWACRA women and shoe menders -- who came forward enthusiastically and contributed Re. 1 each. She said they could collect Rs. 419 in just two hours and they would be remitting the amount to excise department through bank challan to express their protest against belt shops.