September 2, 2020

Stop unholy liquor trade drive in Kashmir

Provocative measures are obviously are obviously not heading to any dead end in Jammu & Kashmir more so after the downgrading the erstwhile state to a union territory and the withdrawal of special status on August 5 last year. Attempt to settle scores over the hostile measures in Jammu & Kashmir has though drawn a flak not once but several times during last one year of direct central rule in Jammu & Kashmir, but the policy of imposing hostile measures on unwilling populations in Jammu & Kashmir even after the release of top mainstream leaders in last few months in Kashmir valley. Knowing that the liquor is banned in several BJP ruled states including Gujrat the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister of Amit Shah, the new measures including removal of additional excise duty on liquor trade, slashing of license fee for liquor shops, the hassle free renewal of old licenses and other major concessions for liquor traders across Jammu & Kashmir are  questionable on many counts as the decisions would by all standards of understandabilities boost social crimes already ruining lives of youth in Jammu & Kashmir. While the government itself has shown it’s concerns over the unprecedented increase in the no of drug addicts in recent years, the people reserve the right to ask the government that would expansion and extension of liquor trade reduce or increase the intensifying crime of drug addiction? Shockingly the extension and expansion of liquor trade would by all standards of human understandabilities’ only boost drug addiction and other social crimes already taking a heavy toll of youth in Jammu & Kashmir. Before removing additional excise duty and slashing license fee for opening liquor shops in Jammu & Kashmir the Government should have taken into view the decisions of the previous regimes and a broader consensus amongst all the mainstream political parties including the BJP over issuance of new liquor licenses in Jammu & Kashmir. Shockingly the reservations in allotting the licenses to the people of underprivileged sections of society is an attempt to boost the liquor consumption rate among the youth of such sections of the society. Unfortunately top bureaucrats wielding brute power in absence of a popular government in Jammu & Kashmir tend to impose provocative decisions over the unwilling populations of Jammu & Kashmir just to appease their political bosses in Delhi. When Excise Commissioner says that Bars at the tourist locations and areas falling under various Tourism Development Authorities shall have to pay only half of the amount prescribed under annual license fee, it is obviously an attempt to boost the liquor trade only in Kashmir valley and let us not forget most of the holy muslim shrine are local very near to famed tourist destination in valley which attract more locals than tourists in peak summer month. An attempt to change famed tourist destinations into liquor trade hubs shows that bureaucratic bankruptcy is at it’s best and the motive behind controversial liquor trade policy is to ruin the lives of valley youth. Unfortunately the signatories of Gupkar declaration and valley’s major trade bodies have choosen to remain silent than to issue any critical statement against the government over this highly controversial and provocative liquor trade policy.

 Ban on liquor trade in several other states including those ruled by the BJP does not leave any scope for any resistance from any political party if the ban on liquor is extended to Jammu & Kashmir also. Administrative wisdom demands that government issues an order to impose a blanket ban on issuing liquor licenses in any part of Jammu & Kashmir and withdraw major decisions including removal of additional excise duty on liquor trade and slashing of license fee for liquor shops.

 Offering major concessions for opening liquor shops in any state or union territory known for it’s muslim majority character only shows that government is only trying to further the causes of religious provocations and not reconciliation which is the only basis for religious harmony. Though Government  in June this year  has rejected the reports about the decision of opening liquor shops through a simple tweet from a top ranked bureaucrat, but in an editorial by this newspaper in this year we had put on record the observation that a simple tweet from a top ranked bureaucrat is by no means satisfying for the angered muslim majority populations in Jammu & Kashmir but only a formal order for banning the liquor trade from the finance department would address the fears and apprehensions of dissenting voices in Jammu & Kashmir. Ban on liquor trade in several other states including those ruled by the BJP does not leave any scope for any resistance from any political party if the ban on liquor is extended to Jammu & Kashmir also. Administrative wisdom demands that government issues an order to impose a blanket ban on issuing liquor licenses in any part of Jammu & Kashmir and withdraw major decisions including removal of additional excise duty on liquor trade and slashing of license fee for liquor shops.

 

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