Skip to main content

Prohibition in Gujarat? Ahmedabad consumes 1.5 to 2 lakh litres of moonshine per day, Surat 50,000 litres

By RK Misra*
If pride and prejudices are pesky, both hype and hypocrisy hurt.
Gujarat and it’s ‘model’ have been the toast of the Indian season ever since it’s Chief Minister , Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014.This includes it’s liquor prohibition policy which has adherents like Bihar now where Nitish Kumar came to power after knocking the wind out of Modi’s sails!
Billowing in the political clouds ever since, are propounded perceptions of a ‘dry’ India. Kumar could do with a closer look at adversary Modi’s ‘model’ state before giving wings to his national vision.
Proud and boastful of the fact that it has been the only state in the country which was born ‘dry’ and continues to remain so till date, Gujarat’s much hyped liquor ‘totalitarianism’ took a humpty-dumpty like fall last week when over 20 people died after consuming hooch near Surat. What has now become a standard drill after decades of practice is in place.
Newly anointed Chief Minister Vijay Rupani is making all the right noises. Top cops-regional and district heads-transferred, smaller fry suspended. The anti-terrorist squad (ATS) chief takes charge of investigations. A three man top cop panel headed by additional director general of police (ADGP), also looks into the matter and submits it’s report to the state home department head. Within 24 hours over a thousand country liquor cases are registered.
Carton loads are being seized at entry checkpoints into the state. A full blooded search for the culprit methanol is under way. Blah, blah, blah and the farce goes on.
Consumption or possession of liquor without a valid permit is a nonbailable offence in the state. A person arrested on either count has to be produced in court to be bailed out. And yet it oozes Bacchus brew from every nook and cranny of its ample frame.
Booze, as the upwardly mobile call it, is lucrative business and according to conservative estimates, a Rs 30,000 crore annual turnover, pure black money spewing industry. While Prime Minister Modi may have pulled out all the stops to unearth Indian black money stashed abroad, his decade and a quarter year stint as chief minister of the state, failed to dent the business. In fact, to be fair to him, no chief minister who held office in the state was ever able to stem the flow.
The business has three components. At the bottom of the pyramid is the poor man’s drink-hooch, lattha or moonshine. Then follows the desi or country liquor, which is the preferred drink of rural Gujarat followed by brewery liquor at the apex (rum, whisky, gin, vodka etc.).
Hooch is the preferred drink of the urban labour class while ‘desi’ distilled largely for captive consumption in villages ranks safer and a notch higher. The fruit liquor ‘mahua’ ranks in this category.
With a consumer base of the middle and affluent class in cities and towns, Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) as brewery made liquor is called in official parlance, holds sway. Country liquor is a cottage industry but brewery liquor flows into the state from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra even Punjab and Haryana.
Let’s take the case of Gujarat’s biggest city Ahmedabad. A network of about 1000 bootleggers sells anywhere between 1.5 to 2 lakh litres of moonshine per day. Women outnumber men in this business. This is besides the IMFL business where the brand of your choice is home delivered to you.
The trade is techno-savvy and ‘whats app’ and other such applications come in handy. Surat is reported to guzzle 50,000 litres per day and almost 70 per cent of the 18,000 villages in the state brew their own country liquor. All major cities report high consumption and rural areas are no exception.
There are 61,000 health permit holders in the state and the average daily consumption of alcohol to permit holders is put at around Rs 75 lakhs worth.
No bootlegger can operate in Gujarat without police connivance and every ‘point’ of operation has to be properly negotiated for the amount to be paid to the cop which goes right up to the top and from there to the political top brass. The cops may be sloppy in policing but would be the envy of management experts in planning and distribution of ill-gotten spoils.
Thus it is the huge amount of unadulterated black money greasing the administrative-political system in Gujarat that ensures a high decibel sound and light show only for the benefit of the masses with little or no follow-up action.
Take the case of the 2009 hooch tragedy in Ahmedabad where 150 people lost their lives. Modi, then the chief minister, made all the appropriate noises. A Commission of Inquiry was instituted with former High Court judge KM Mehta as the chairman. The panel submitted its report in 2011 and pin drop silence thereafter.
The Gujarat Vidhan Sabha was quick to amend the pertinent Act provisioning for even death penalty for those convicted in spurious liquor cases. The Bill was cleared by the then Governor Dr Kamala Beniwal. Not a single person has got life imprisonment thereafter, let alone terminal punishment.
The whole business of prohibition in Gujarat is a big charade in which everyone is happy and no one emerges the poorer except the people. Gujarat is soggy wet so those who want to drink, get enough of it but for a price. The cop is happy, he gets his cut and the politician in power more so because he gets a fair share as well besides the rip off from transfers and postings for playing favourites.
Right from the sub-inspector to the DGP, the transfers are all at the behest of the Home department and the politicians who preside over it. The bootlegger is happy because he still manages to make money for himself despite all the pricks and cuts.
It is only the honest tax payer who gets fobbed because the state loses a huge amount of money in excise and allied duties. Never mind this common man, he was in any case, born to bear the burden of the cross. Moonshine for the earthy, sunshine for the dirty!
---
*Senior journalist based in Gandhinagar. Blog: http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in/

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

Opposition refuses to legally challenge EVMs amidst plans of "back to ballot" protest

Counterview Desk
Even as opposition to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) allegedly to rig polls is growing, a group of prominent citizens who have come together to form the EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan has controversially called for a national protest against EVMs on May 30, demanding future elections should be held only on ballot paper.

When a Pak scribe said Modi has 'proved' Jinnah’s two nation theory right...

By Zafar Agha*
It was around nine in the morning on May 24, 2019, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed the Lok Sabha with 300-plus MPs. It was a call from a journalist friend, Muzamal Suhrawardy, from Lahore, Pakistan. I ignored the call. We liberals had a depressing day the previous evening as the opposition to Modi and BJP collapsed. The results belied reports from the ground and even assessments made by colleagues.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

It's now official: Akshay Kumar has not been conferred honorary Canadian citizenship

By Our Representative
It is now official. Super-star Akshay Kumar has not been conferred any honorary citizenship by Canadian authorities, as claimed by him ahead of the 2019 elections. In reply to a query by Roshan Shah, who is a Canadian citizen living in Waterloo, Ontario, and belongs to Ahmedabad, the country’s authorities dealing with issues related with immigration, refugees and citizenship in Canada have said that only six persons have so far been granted honorary citizenship.

Govt of India overestimated GDP by 2.5%, must restore reputational damage: Ex-CEA

By Rajiv Shah
Top economist Arvind Subramanian has said that changes brought about by the Government of India in data sources and methodology for estimating the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 “has led to a significant overestimation of growth”. While official estimates place annual average GDP growth between 2011-12 and 2016-17 at about 7 percent, the actual growth may have been 4½ percent, ranging from 3 ½ to 5 ½ percent during the period, he adds.

Common thread of Modi, political Hinduism, nationalism? 'Contest' of ideas isn't over

By Salman Khurshid*
Losing the 2019 election and that too in a somewhat extreme manner has confronted us with unexpected challenges: Our leadership has naturally taken it very hard and to heart but with suggested options that we cannot imagine or contemplate. Hopefully the emotions will settle soon and give us the direction to pick up the pieces and march again.

If EC's credibility is under question, shouldn't one "assume" EVMs might be tampered?

Counterview Desk
Gauhar Raza, scientist, documentary film maker and poet; senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi of the Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD); military veteran Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury (retd); and Sucheta De and Sandeep Saurav of the All India Students' Association (AISA), have asked “individuals, organisations and people's movements” to send their endorsement to an appeal they have prepared on Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

Will minorities in India be 2nd class citizens? Wake up call: Be a 'communicating' Church

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
India today is at a defining moment of her history. There is so much that has taken place in the past five years (and particularly in the last ten days)- that several citizens of the country are genuinely concerned about the future of the country! Will democracy survive? Will key elements of the Constitution be changed?