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Rajasthan: Village votes to shut only liquor shop

Campaign began on Republic Day this year when women raised demand at gram sabha meeting.

Written by Mahim Pratap Singh | Jaipur |
Updated: March 30, 2016 7:46:39 am

A four-month anti-liquor campaign led by women from Kachabali village in Rajsamand, about 330 km from the state capital, saw residents Tuesday voting overwhelmingly in support of shutting down the only liquor shop in their panchayat, banning the sale of alcohol forever.

The landmark Gandhian experiment led by women in this remote Rajasthan village culminated in a vote that continued through the day. Of the 2,049 (out of a total of 2,886) residents of Kachabali who cast their vote, 1,937 or 94 per cent voted in favour of the prohibition. The vote was carried out under the Rajasthan Excise Rules, which empowers a panchayat to opt for closing a liquor shop if 50 per cent of its residents vote for it.

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The campaign began on Republic Day this year when women from the village raised the demand during a meeting of the gram sabha. On February 27, about 1,600 residents signed a memorandum calling for complete prohibition on the sale of liquor in their panchayat during a special gram sabha meet. On March 14, after 950 voters vetted the memorandum and its signatories, the excise department approved the vote via a notification.

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Civil society organisations like Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and resident groups like Magra Shakti Sena lent their support to the campaign, led mostly by women.

“The results are out…there was 67 per cent polling…it is a vote against the theka (liquor vend),” District Collector Archana Singh told The Indian Express. She added, “Alcoholism has been quite an issue in this region and women are the ones who suffer its ill-effects the most, so they had been campaigning for the prohibition for quite some time…there was a lot of excitement in the region about the vote…everyone from activists to school children wanted to be a part of the campaign. The media also covered the incident very well.”

The results of Tuesday’s vote will now be presented before the district administration on Wednesday following which the excise department is likely to issue a notification announcing the closure of all liquor shops within Kachabali.

Rajasthan has seen a heated public debate on liquor prohibition over the past few months, especially following the death of former MLA Gursharan Chhabra, who died while on a hunger strike demanding complete prohibition against alcohol sale.

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