Political and administrative apathy responsible for hooch deaths

Political and administrative apathy responsible for hooch deaths

As the death toll rises to 117 due to consumption of spurious liquor in Punjab, bureaucrats and politicians as well as the opposition are talking loud about taking action against the culprits. The presentation of statistics, through media, related to seizure of  huge quantity of lahan and processed illicit liquor, arrests of bootleggers is a standard practice resorted to by powers that be whenever such a tragedy happens. This doesn’t 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 rot in the police tantra. But, again the corrupt in police force, whose connivance in the tragedy cannot be ruled out because it is hard to accept that they had no inkling of this unholy business thriving for so long. An incisive and sincere analysis is required to be made to get the root of the problem that has led to the loss of several human lives.

Neither consumption of liquor is new nor is the traditional processing of liquor in villages. Crop and cereals based distillation has remained popular for medicines as well as intoxication yet the same is not being justified here. The phenomenon of deaths by consumption of spurious liquor as well as the parallel illicit liquor based economy being run by the nexus of manufacturers and sellers. The lust to make quick bucks at the cost of precius human lives must make everyone civilized society hand their heads in shame.

The sale of paints and other chemicals/drugs for mixing and using to prepare these killer drinks is not pardonable. Had there been no deaths, such nexus would never have been exposed. The nexus kept successfully exploiting the poor sections of society by keeping them hooked to drinking. This illicit liquor trade has also been robbing the state exchequer of much needed revenue. Successive government failed to stem the rot in the system for which the political class, bureaucrats and the police are all to blame. Country is big and so big are the issues and development of the people cannot not be allowed to become a casualty. The state government must revisit its excise policy and liquor pricing to discourage illicit distillation.

There is visible extreme developmental neglect of the 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 in handy for such illicit liquor makers who operate with impunity, since they have their masters (the corrupt) in police force and in the political class. Village development involving Panchayats have failed in all such areas. Why not hold responsible Block Development officials along with the SHOs and Chowki Incharge 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 are expected to take care of such areas falling in their respective jurisdiction so that such illicit activities are kept in check.

The primary responsibility, however, lies with our legislatures and planners who decide allocation of budget resources for developmental expenditure for such neglected areas.

The senior revenue and police officers must increase their visits in remote areas too. Let the state government come out with plans to promote tourist circuits on the banks of rivers in bet areas without further delay. Poverty and illiteracy is starkly visible in these areas.

The conditions of such areas are not going to improve as long as political parties and leaders keep indulging in blame game with an eye on vote banks. 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 act sincerely now.

Brij Bhushan Goyal

Author is Ludhiana-based social activist and freelance writer

Disclaimer: Opinion/facts in this article are author's own and famepunjabi.in does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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