Liquor Sale In J&K Shows Steep Rise10 December 2011
Srinagar: Liquor flows freely in conservative Kashmir even as the clergy and ruling party leaders slug it out over its sales in the trouble-torn Valley. Official figures presented in the assembly reveal nearly 16.77 lakh bottles of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL), beer and country-made liquor were consumed in the Valley in 2009-10 compared to nearly 14 lakh bottles in 2008-2009. This is despite the fact that the liquor has been banned by the militants since 1990. ‘Allah Tigers’, now a defunct militant outfit, ransacked and looted the liquor shops forcing all of them to close down instantly at the onset of militancy in 1990. Liquor vends, however, opened in Kashmir after 1996 when National Conference government assumed charge of the state after violent phase of six years. From no liquor shop in 1990 to five new shops and three clubs currently, the liquor vends have also staged a comeback in the valley even in the turmoil period. Notwithstanding the increase in the liquor consumption in the Valley, the separatists and the clergy have stepped up efforts to re-impose the ban on its sale. Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has sought fatwa against National Conference president Farooq Abdullah for allegedly advocating reopening of liquor shops and cinema halls, has called for peaceful protests after Friday prayers to press for the ban on the liquor in the valley. “We urge people to rise against the father-son duo (Farooq and Omar Abdullah) to foil their nefarious designs. Imams of all mosques are requested to deliver sermons highlighting the ill-effects of liquor consumption. They should create awareness and mobilise people to press for the ban on liquor in the Valley,” said Geelani. Moulana Ghulam Rasool Hami, chairman of Karwan-e-Islami, asked when liquor is banned in Gujarat why not in Jammu and Kashmir which is a Muslim-majority state? “We want government to bring a bill in the assembly to ban liquor. We also plan to rope in civil society, and in the lat leg we plan to organise street sit-ins to force government to ban and consumption of liquor,” he said. Grand Mufti of Kashmir Bashir-ud-din, who is also the chairman of J&K Muslim Personal Law Board, passed a resolution calling for renewed efforts to shut down liquor shops in the Valley.