TODAY -

Two Bills passed but yet to be tested : The alcohol debate
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: July 25 2018 -



Of the three Bills prepared by the Government, two have been passed while the remaining one has been referred to the Select Committee of the Manipur Legislative Assembly.

While the Manipur International University Bill (MIU) is not expected to generate any debate, it is the other two Bills which will and should generate much debate.

Even before the said Bill was referred to the Select Committee, voices of opposition have already been raised and why not.

The protest did not come as a surprise given that the said Bill centres around prohibition.

As everyone knows, Manipur became a dry State when the then MPP led Government under the stewardship of the late RK Ranbir passed the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Bill in 1991.

Anti-liquor drive launched by the Nisha Bands or Meira Paibis preceded the prohibition Bill and so did the drive launched by numerous armed groups against liquor or alcohol.

Back then it was common to see the pages of the Imphal based newspapers carrying, ‘Sengdokchaba’ advertisements on a daily basis.

Natives of the place must be familiar with the term ‘Sengdokchaba’ but for the benefits of those who came in late, particularly the young readers, ‘Sengdokchaba’ was a declaration by the individual concerned on the ‘insistence’ of some armed groups to say that on the ‘advice’ of the well wishers, he would henceforth stop drinking !

After the armed groups came social organisations, particularly AMADA and CADA, which struck a hard stand and anyone found having enjoyed a peg or two or loitering around drunk were ‘advised’ to put up a ‘Sengdokchaba’ in the local newspapers and officially declare that he would no longer touch alcohol.

All the ‘Sengdokchabas’ came with the full details of the individual, such as his name, father’s name, address etc.

Shame the drunkard could have been the reason behind the ‘Sengdokchabas’ but yet at the same time, this was also a telling testimony that liquor was and is available in plenty at dry Manipur.

It is in taking cognizance of this reality that the BJP led Government dared to draft the Manipur Liquor Prohibition (Second amendment) Bill.

More than obvious that it is due to the highly sensitive nature of the Bill as well as the voices of opposition raised against the Bill that the Biren Singh Government has deemed it better to refer the same to a House panel, instead of seeking to pass it during the Monsoon session of the State Assembly.

As reported widely earlier, the Bill is about letting Manipur manufacture alcohol under a regulation and ship the alcohol outside the State to earn much needed revenue.

Produce alcohol but don’t let it sell here, instead ship it outside Manipur to be sold.

This is the line taken by the Government.

Remains to be seen which side will come out tops, the anti-liquor lobby or the anti-prohibition group.

So much about the Bill on prohibition and the intention of the Government, but what will prove even more dicey than this will be the Manipur People Bill which has already been passed in the Assembly.

What can be the response from the people to the Bill, particularly the Churachandpur JAC ?

This question is important in the face of what happened when the State Assembly passed three Bills back in 2015.

Just a day before the Bill was passed, a number of apex tribal bodies had asserted that they cannot accept the Bill without modification.

Has the Bill been modified and what are the points that the tribal bodies find unacceptable ? This need to be spelt out.



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