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Explained: Why the Chhattisgarh govt is going after hookah bars

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has emphasised the need to ban narcotics and hookah in the state in a meeting with police officers from across the state. Here's why

Written by Gargi Verma , Edited by Explained Desk | Raipur |
Updated: October 26, 2021 10:17:25 am
In 2019, the government made clear its intention to ban hookahs across the state. (Representational image)

On Friday (October 22), Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel emphasised the need to ban narcotics and hookah in the state in a meeting with police officers from across the state.

The concern

At a meeting with the superintendents of police of all districts and other senior police officers, Chief minister Baghel underlined the need to clamp down on the trade and consumption of narcotics in the state. “Hookah bars should be completely banned and there is an urgent need to check narcotics trade,” he said.

The back story

Before the Assembly elections of 2018, the Congress had promised to shut down illegal hooch dens and hookah bars. It had also promised to shut down liquor vends across the state to fight the problem of alcohol addiction. The opposition has targeted Baghel’s government for not taking any action against the illegal sale of alcohol, while going after small hookah owners.

Govt’s position

In 2019, the government made clear its intention to ban hookahs across the state. Home Minister Tamradhwaj Sahu told the Assembly that the government was working to revoke licences of hookah parlours. In February 2020, the Baghel Cabinet decided to bring a law to shut down ]hookah bars.

Govt’s argument

According to senior police officials, there are over 1,000 hookah bars across the state functioning on old licences. “Underage children, college-going youths and others who are unaware of the problems of smoking hookah get addicted, and the addiction often becomes a gateway for other (illegal) activities,” a senior police officer from Raipur said.

“The hookah bars are also a supply point of narcotics and other nefarious activities. It is important to have control over them if we are to fight tobacco addiction in the state,” the officer added.
Police officials believe the action can also target owners of hookah bars who may be involved in other illegal activities with the hookah bar as a front.

What now

In Chhattisgarh, other than several hookah parlours, some restaurants serve hookah on demand as well. Chhattisgarh Police have been asked to shut these places down. Places across the state serving hookah illegally are being raided.

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