The political and administrative apathy is squarely responsible for hooch tragedy. After 117 plus deaths due to consumption of spurious liquor in Punjab, bureaucrats and the politicians sitting in the seats of power corridors as well as in opposition are crying hoarse for action against the culprits.
Presenting to the public, the data of lacs of litres lahan and processed illicit liquor confiscated, hundreds or so bootleggers rounded up is nothing more than a statistics which often comes after every such tragedy happens.
This will not bring back the dead. None of the political dispensations who have ruled Punjab are above board. But, another statistics of some DSPs suspended and some SHOs under enquiry is not merely statistics, but it is an open admission of the fact of malignancy in police tantra.
But, again the corrupt in police force, who all connived are apparently responsible for this all, will yet again be at play as long we don’t understand the utter callousness and neglect of such affected vulnerable class by our political masters of all hues coupled with the indifferent bureaucratic setup. An incisive sincere analysis is required to be made by the people at large sooner than the later for such tragedies.
Neither consumption of liquor is new nor is the traditional processing of liquor in villages is. Crop and cereals based distillation has remained popular for medicines as well as ‘drinks’. Notwithstanding, the old habitual drinking habits can’t be justified. The phenomenon of deaths by consumption of spurious liquor as well as the parallel illicit liquor based economy being run by the nexus manufacturing and selling spurious liquor for quick bucks robbed from the poor habitual drinkers must put our heads in shame. The sale of paints and other chemicals/drugs for mixing and using to prepare these killer drinks is dangerously scandalous and is not pardonable.
Had there been no deaths, such nexus would never have been exposed. The nexus kept successfully exploiting and skimming the poor class since it kept hooked to drinking since decades despite their very poor hand to mouth economic conditions of their families.
Also there is a huge dent in State revenues by the illicit liquor trade since decades. Successive govts. failed to stem the rot in the system for which the political class, bureaucrats and the police all are to blame. The current deaths due to spurious liquor in Corona pandemic times must force the Government to admit that there remained lapses and there should not be repeat of such incidents.
Country is big and so big are the issues and development of the people cannot not be made through aphorism. The State must revisit its excise policy and liquor pricing to discourage illicit distillation.
There is visible extreme economic developmental neglect of vast belts of bet areas of the State along both sides of our rivers particularly Beas and Sutlej. The virtual remoteness of some villages in bet areas from main cities and towns has come handy for such illicit liquor makers who operate with impunity, since they have their masters in police(corrupt among the force) and political patronage who help them perpetuate their shoddy business.
Bureaucrats are to be blamed too. Village development involving Panchyats have failed in all such areas. Why not hold responsible Block Development Officials along with the SHOs and Chowki –in- charges for their failure in reporting to the higher authorities about the goings in their respective areas?
A Deputy Commissioner or a Police Commissioner or other senior officers as incumbents of the affected districts of such tragedies,no doubt are expected to take care of their areas, but the primary duty is of our legislatures and planners who are to allocate developmental expenditure for such neglected belts of bet/backward areas through legislations.
The senior revenue and police officers must increase their visits in remote areas too. Let the State Govt. ponder seriously and develop tourist circuits on the banks of rivers in bet areas without further delay as the neglect of these areas is for decades now and these are practically cut off from the mainstream development. Poverty and illiteracy is starkly visible in these areas.
The conditions of such areas are not going to improve as long as there is blame game campaigns for nursing one’s vote bank. Sarpanches of such remote bet area villages must rise above party politics and help people avail various Government schemes for better employment .NGOS and literate in the villages in such areas must come forward to educate the vulnerable people. Posterity will not pardon the politicians if they don’t play sincere.
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