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A Village in Odisha Bans Alcohol After Incident of Sexual Harassment

In mid-September this 12 months, a bunch of ladies from Dharambandha village — located within the Sadar block of Odisha’s Nuapada district — went for a shower within the village canal. Nearby, a store was serving and promoting liquor to some males. Soon, inebriated, these males proceeded to molest the ladies. When the ladies protested, the drunkards began abusing them.

Although no official criticism was registered with the police, the village’s youth determined to eradicate this drawback from its roots. They began an alcohol de-addiction marketing campaign in Dharambandha.

“I used to be current through the [molestation] incident that befell close to the canal. I had been protesting towards the sale of liquor there. However, nobody agreed. But after the incident, a gathering was held wherein all the ladies of the village participated, and the choice to ban liquor was taken,” stated villager Padma Dewangan.

In a number of Indian states, the demand for liquor prohibition has been raised occasionally. Complete liquor prohibition is in pressure in Gujarat, Bihar, Mizoram and Nagaland. However, it’s no secret that alcohol consumption continues to plague many locations in these states by way of the black market or illicit liquor manufacturing.

Andhra Pradesh and Haryana had been the states that fully prohibit alcohol within the mid-90s but it surely was restored in 1997 and 1998, respectively. In Chhattisgarh, the Congress authorities’s promise to ban liquor stays unfulfilled even after two and a half years.

The panchayat workplace at Dharambandha (Screengrab from video by Darshan Sharma)

In Odisha, following the May 1992 occasion in Cuttack wherein greater than 200 folks died and 600 folks had been hospitalised after consuming spurious liquor, the state imposed a ban on alcohol in 1994. However, the Congress authorities that got here to energy in 1995 lifted the prohibition on the grounds that it was inflicting big losses in income.

A examine by AIIMS Delhi said that “Nearly one in 5 alcohol customers suffers from dependence and desires pressing remedy. Among the 5.7 crore folks thought of alcohol addicts in India, the quantity of people that want pressing remedy is pegged to be 3.2 crores.” The consumption of alcohol has additionally been immediately linked to crimes towards ladies.

Confronting this actuality, the youth of Dharambandha village determined to take issues into their very own arms. They initiated an alcohol de-addiction marketing campaign with the cooperation of the village Sarpanch.

As a outcome, on September 21, the sarpanch known as the gram sabha assembly, the place the choice to ban liquor within the village was handed with mutual consensus.

PLAN FOR THE BAN

Located 20 km from district headquarters, Dharambandha has a inhabitants of about 6,000. Here, promoting, shopping for and making any type of liquor is now prohibited. No one can open a liquor store or a furnace to brew liquor. If somebody is caught promoting liquor, they are going to be fined Rs 51,000 and compelled to parade across the village carrying a garland of sneakers and slippers. The individual caught shopping for alcohol can be fined Rs 5,100.

An motion committee consisting of 25 males and 25 ladies from Dharambandha has been shaped to implement the prohibition. Five senior members supervise them. The committee’s job is to conduct raids on locations promoting liquor primarily based on the knowledge acquired. A day after the prohibition, the motion committee had raided a spot after receiving details about persevering with liquor gross sales. However, no alcohol was discovered.

The village assembly the place the choice to implement prohibition was taken (Screengrab from video by Darshan Sharma)

An energetic member of the alcohol de-addiction marketing campaign, Ankit Jain informed 101Reporters that villagers additionally wrote a letter to Dharambandha Police Station, the SP Office and the Excise Department informing them concerning the marketing campaign. “We received assurance of cooperation from them,” Jain added.

NO MORE ‘BAD WATER’

The ban on alcohol in Dharambandha was not simply welcome but in addition appeared needed. According to Ramesh Sahu of the village, “People’s well being deteriorated as a result of extreme consumption. Most of the deaths within the village had been as a result of sharab.” (Sharab is an Arabic phrase derived from the mix of Shar that means ‘bad’ and Aab that means ‘water’)

Liquor was being offered within the streets, and the villagers had began depleting their financial savings to purchase it. Some villagers steered that circumstances of atrocities on ladies and home violence had additionally elevated. Even the village kids began consuming alcohol with the cash they received for sweets or ice cream.

Sadanand Majhi, the president of the de-addiction marketing campaign, steered that crime has lowered within the village after the ban. Earlier, there was eight to 10 incidents of abuse and assault within the village. However, no such circumstances have come to mild just lately. “Now that liquor just isn’t being offered; the main focus is on improvement and cleanliness of the village. Children and youth are concentrating on research and sports activities,” he informed 101Reporters.

The ladies within the village have been feeling protected because the ban, stated former Sarpanch, Kusum Sahu (in yellow) (Screengrab from video by Darshan Sharma)

The former Sarpanch of Dharambandha, Kusum Sahu resonated with Majhi’s assertion. She stated, “Earlier, it was troublesome for girls to go away the home. But ever because the ban, the ladies have been feeling protected. Not solely Dharmabandha, however the complete nation also needs to be alcohol-free.’

The slogan of prohibition will get its energy from ladies. Today, all the ladies of Dharambandha are unitedly concerned within the drug de-addiction marketing campaign. However, whereas ladies of the village are glad, liquor merchants and wine lovers are disenchanted with this resolution.

Harinder Singh, supervisor of one of many liquor outlets within the village, had opposed the ban, however this had no impact. He stated, “With the mutual consent of the villagers, the sale of liquor is prohibited within the village. At current, liquor just isn’t being offered, and everyone seems to be following the principles. Let’s see what occurs subsequent.”

Post the ban, there have been no circumstances of promoting liquor in Dharmabandha. “The marketing campaign goes effectively to date. However, if we don’t get continued cooperation, then we’re ready to go on to the Excise SP and Collector,” stated Omprakash Kalar, the village sarpanch. This has additionally created concern among the many liquor merchants of the encompassing areas.

Dharambandha has set such an instance from which the entire nation can take a lesson. Nuapada MLA Rajendra Dholakia informed 101Reporters, “The folks of Dharambandha have taken a historic resolution. This step is welcome. I hope their marketing campaign is profitable.”

(The writer is a Nuapada-based freelance journalist and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India community of grassroots reporters.)

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