SRINAGAR: Newly floated Apni Party (JKAP) on Sunday slammed the J&K government for mulling to open liquor sale points at different places across Kashmir valley.
Party in a statement on Sunday pledged not to allow any such decisions which according to it are “bound to endure an onslaught on Kashmir’s cultural ethos.”
Zaffar Iqbal Manhas, former legislator and senior leader of the party observed that the government proposal to open liquor shops at around 183 newly identified locations in J&K including 67 in Kashmir valley is totally unacceptable as the decision is bound to have disastrous consequences for peace in the region.
“Such decisions are highly condemnable. Kashmir is a land of sufis and saints and such obnoxious proposals are mooted to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere,” Manhas said, adding that such government decisions will spread immorality among the local youth, who are already fighting against the drug menace.
The JKAP leader said the pretext of generating much-needed revenue from liquor business in the backdrop of economic crisis brought about by COVID-19 does not hold water as J&K is one of the progressive states in the country.
“There are other states like Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland, Mizoram and Lakshadweep which are coping with the lockdown despite a ban on liquor sale and consumption. Why to choose predominantly Muslim areas of Kashmir Valley for opening large scale liquor sale points when there is no such requirement?” he asked.
Manhas said that instead of surveying new locations for opening of wine shops in Kashmir valley, the government should have utilized its time and resources on assessing the basic needs of families in J&K who are in dire need of food and ration due to the crippling lockdown.
“There is no sound justification in promoting tourism or boosting revenue through introduction of liquor culture in Kashmir Valley. JKAP will resist this onslaught on Kashmir’s cultural ethos tooth and nail. We will not allow any such mischief that is bound to propagate immorality and crime in our society,” Manhas added.
The JKAP leader said that it seems a huge pressure group led by the liquor lobbies in the country was acting to influence the government to open liquor shops in Jammu and Kashmir especially in Kashmir. “Huge transactions in bringing this proposal cannot be ruled out also,” Manhas added.
Questioning the government’s hurry to sell liquor in the prevailing pandemic situation, Manhas demanded to know why liquor was being granted this privilege over other essential commodities including ration and fuel which seem to have disappeared from the ground.
“If the sale of liquor is so important amid this deadly pandemic, in that case, why not permit all other shops and business establishments to unlock as well? Going by the hue and cries of the people during the lockdown and the failure of administration to implement its much hyped home delivery services, the government should not delay unlocking the markets,” Manhas stressed.
Cautioning the government about the ramifications of its proposal on sale of liquor, Manhas said the decision will be extremely disastrous. “Besides burdening an already stressed administration and the police force, it will needlessly aggravate social problems including increasing the crime rate in J&K. The cases of domestic violence which are already surging are bound to rise by this irrational proposal,” Manhas said.
According to an official document, the Excise Department has conducted a survey in exercise of the powers under rule 28 of the J&K Liquor and License Rules-1984 and Section 4 (B) of the Excise Act and identified these locations for the opening of new sale points.
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