Booze-Buying Creating Bottlenecks, Brawls on Boulevard

With the opening of new wine shop on the iconic Boulevard Road, the desperation for drink is creating daily din and disturbance.

By Zaid Bin Shabir

ON a sunny day at the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar, as tourists and locals were taking leisurely stroll, a quadragenarian starving for a sip of alcohol stepped out of the Boulevard liquor store. The loss of control was only temporary but it had already mastered his craving, badly unnerving him and forcing him to barge on a rickshaw driver in an attempt to loot the two beer bottles.

The petty “theft” soon transposed into a big scuffle with more than a dozen drunkards fighting on the iconic road of Srinagar. The scuffle turned so vicious that it caused a huge traffic jam that lasted for more than 40 minutes, causing trouble for the civilians passing through that road.

Locals say that after more than a month since Kashmiris were informed about the new liquor store on Boulevard road, the tribe of alcoholics has vastly augmented, causing trouble and inconvenience for residents and people transporting through the stretch.

“Everyday around 15-20 drunkards are strolling around the Boulevard, drinking in public, fighting and causing trouble especially for the females walking on the pavements,” Shahnawaz Ahmed, a resident of Dalgate told Kashmir Observer.

The residents have also raised questions on the everyday commotion that erupts outside liquor vends, as scores of people throng there to buy liquor. “The administration hasn’t taken any painstaking effort to maintain Covid SOP’s or make these booze buyers to stand in line so that the social distancing efforts are preserved and the spread of virus be prevented.”

Pertinently, the J&K Administration has stationed several paramilitary and police personnel near the liquor store in order to prevent the booze buying people from parking their vehicles on the road and to prevent any scuffle but people living nearby are pestered of the physical and mental havoc that these drunkards cause in the area.

“These alcoholics are wild animals,” said Saima Ali, a resident of Dalgate. “A few days back, some of them were so dozed off that they went directly into the J&K Bank on the boulevard and demanded cash.”

During a recent scuffle between two alcoholics, she said, one of them pulled a sharp knife in an attempt to stab the other.

“The cops did prevent the situation and dispersed the crowd, but such incidents bring disrepute to the place and people living or working there,” she said. “If this continues, then these alcoholics will become wilder day by day.”

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Zaid Bin Shabir

A media graduate from LPU, Zaid Bin Shabir is a Srinagar based journalist whose works have appeared in many local and international publications.

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