The civil society-sponsored “campaign for prohibition and addiction free India”, Nashamukt Bharat Andolan, has asked the Government of India (GoI) to “incentivise” states for implementing prohibition and compensate any revenue loss, insisting, the demand is only a “natural extension of the fight against corporate loot of resources and labour.”
Addressing a prayer meeting of participants in a march at Rajghat on January 30, campaign leader Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) sharply criticized the “merchants of hate and fanaticism” for killing Gandhi, but said, they wouldn’t be able to “kill his ideas and philosophy.”
The campaign began at Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad on January 23 and passed through Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, where civil society activists from 10 states held more than 25 meetings in schools, colleges, community halls and public places, asking people to rid society of addiction.
Begun as a public meeting at at Shaheed Park, near ITO in Delhi, after paying homage to Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, the march ended at Rajghat.
Claiming the recent successes in ensuring recent liquor ban orders in Bihar and Kerala is the result of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) campaign, Patkar said, even now most states pay scant heed to the Article 47 of the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Indian Constitution, which seeks an addiction-free society.
One of the largest apex bodies of society organizations, NAPM is led by Patkar. Alcohol prohibition in India is in force in the states of Gujarat, Kerala, Bihar, Nagaland and Manipur, and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep.
Dr. Sunilam, Samajwadi Samagam, another campagn leader, said, “Governments often cite loss of revenue as the reason for not implementing prohibition”, calling upon Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to announce in the forthcoming budget a compensation amount for states which ban liquor.
Sawai Singh of the Rajasthan Samagr Seva Sangh alleged that the Rajasthan government is under “complete influence of liquor and drug mafia. Prohibition in the state was lifted within a year of its imposition. It’s unfortunate that excise department has the photograph of Mahatma Gandhi in its offices, but shows no respect for his teachings.”
Praising the Bihar government for imposing prohibition, Sanjay Kumar said, in an “inspirational” move, about three crore people formed a human chain recently in of support of liquor ban, suggested how people, especially women, have taken it.
Sarbati Bai from Kathputli Colony, Delhi, where a fight is currently on against efforts to evict the slum, pointed towards how liquor and drugs are “breaking homes”, insisting, “Unless strict steps are taken for the implementation of total prohibition and regulation of the sale and manufacture, it will remain a bane for the women of this country.”
Mahavir Bhai, 86-years-old freedom fighter and Gandhian from Haryana, said, the state government has “lost an political will and is in complete control of the liquor mafia, resulting in high rates of heinous crime against women and children.”
Activists from Lok Shakti Abhiyan (Orissa), Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (Maharashtra), Khudai Khidmatgar (UP), Aavidya Mukti Sansthan (Bihar), Sharabbandi Sanyukt Morcha (Chhattisgarh), National Cyclists' Union, Rashtra Seva Dal, Swaraj Abhiyan, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Matu Jan Sangathan, Yusuf Mehrally Centre, All-India Muslim Masawarat, and Jamat-e-Islami-e-Hind participated in the march.
Even as asking the Election Commission of India to ensure that liquor is not used as a means to bribe people in the elections to Uttar Pradesh and other states, the march ended with the announcement of a national convention of Nasha Mukt Bharat Andolan on April 12 in Nagpur, Maharashtra.