A 70% hike in the price of liquor did not dissuade people from queuing up outside government-run standalone shops on Tuesday.
Close to 160 liquor shops were opened in the city on Monday after a gap of 40 days. Long queues, with scant regard for social distancing norms, were observed. Later that evening, the Delhi government announced the hike.
Around 3 pm on Tuesday, police sirens and canes hitting the ground were the only two distinct sounds on a stretch of road adjacent to a slum cluster near Ashram, South Delhi, which led to a liquor store.
About 50 people had gathered at the entrance of this narrow road, running next to a drain, and were anxiously looking at the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel standing guard a few metres ahead. They wanted to buy liquor, but the store was forced shut earlier in the day when security forces dispersed a large crowd of buyers, with lathis, for breaking social distancing norms in queues that stretched “over a kilometre”.
A shop in East Delhi’s Anand Vihar had more than a hundred people queuing up in two lines and many were seen leaving the store with boxes full of whisky and beer bottles while a poster near the counter announced the 70% price hike.
In Vasant Vihar, the district administration issued a showcause notice to the manager at the liquor store for failing to ensure social distancing norms were being followed.
In several parts of the city, stores were shut after they failed to enforce the norms, which include the presence of marshalls as well as distance between customers.
In South Delhi’s Malviya Nagar, a sign pasted outside a shuttered-down store said, “No liquor shop will open in Malviya Nagar. Please don’t disturb by asking again and again. As ordered, SHO Malviya Nagar.”
A senior police officer, however, said shops were not shut on their orders. “The management was asked to deploy adequate marshals and make necessary arrangements for social distancing, which they were unable to do. Hence they decided to close the shop,” said an officer.
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