TODAY -

Drinking joints in a dry State : Liquor tragedy !
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: August 01 2017 -



So far five people dead after consuming illicit local made liquor.

The death toll may increase as there are still a good number of people undergoing treatment at different hospitals in Imphal.

This is where some hard talk is perhaps needed.

Manipur is a dry State. No argument over here.

But how many parched throats are there in the State ? None.

Plenty of liquor available despite the dry tag and here is one glaring example of how the dry State tag has flopped miserably.

Not that Manipur is the exception, for remember no law or Act has been able to stop people from enjoying their drinks.

This is how bootleggers emerged in the United States, decades back when prohibition was enforced.

This may perhaps be the first time that Manipur has witnessed such a liquor tragedy or hooch tragedy, but this is not something new in India, for people across the country have died due to large scale liquor poisoning, in hundreds.

As in other parts of the country, all the profiles of the liquor vendors and those who consume the same are similar.

It is not the well heeled people, who can afford the costly single malt scotch or Indian whisky and rum, who fall victim to hooch poisoning but people who come down in the income group and hence rely on the locally brewed liquor to get their high.

This was what happened at Oinam Sawombung.

And there are occasions a dime a dozen or two to down a peg or two of the locally made liquor and this may include during the funeral of someone, during community or clan feasts, ceremonies such as mapam chakkouba, eepan thaba, nahut nareng tamba, nga tangba numit etc etc.

This is not a debate on whether prohibition should stay or go but is a commentary on the reality of life here.

So even though prohibition has been here since the early part of the 90s, liquor continue to flow.

This should mean that liquor consumption has not gone down though drunkenness on the roads and streets may have seen a steep decline.

In other words this means that while Manipur is a dry State, the people continue to drink and with no mechanism to oversee or supervise the liquor production process in the local markets, what transpired at Oinam Sawombung may just have been a thing that was waiting to happen.

Will the Government compensate for the loss of lives ? If the answer is in the affirmative then remember it is the tax payers’ money which will be used.

Cannot really expect the liquor vendors or those who distilled the same to compensate, for remember none of them are economically placed to compensate for the loss of lives.

It was an accident, no doubt, but a tragic accident it was and with no mechanism to control the process of distilling the local liquor, such a story may continue.

The Government needs to remove the blinkers from their eyes and so do too all in the State.

It also stands that there are some from the Government side who have been benefiting immensely from the presence of the illicit liquor joints and there are thousands of them.

Commercialising traditions is also a point that needs to be studied, for the local liquor usually come from those engaged in traditionally brewing liquor.



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