A battle with the bottle is brewing in church-wary Mizoram ahead of the battle of the ballots.
The Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) or MLPC Act of 2014, which allowed opening of liquor shops and bars in the State, might be history if the Zoram People’s Party comes to power after the Assembly elections to be held this year-end.
The ZPM is an alliance of seven regional parties and groups minus the Mizo National Front, the principal Opposition party in Mizoram.
The MLPC Act, implemented on January 16, 2015, replaced the Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act of 1995 that was enforced two years later. The church – more than 87% people of the State are Christians – had played a major role in banning sale of liquor under the MLTP Act.
“The MLPC Act warrants selling of liquor to card holders. But liquor is sold illegally to minors and adults without permit. Consumption of liquor has killed many young people, greatly affecting the Mizo society,” K. Sapdanga, general secretary of ZPM, told
from State capital Aizawl.
“If we win the polls, illegal selling of liquor will be stopped first. We will also consult social NGOs and church leaders about MLPC Act, whether to continue with it or scrap it for the greater good of the society,” he said.
The ZPM’s poll-oriented crusade against liquor has come a week after MNF president and former Chief Minister Zoramthanga blamed the ruling Congress for the death of thousands of people due to consumption of liquor.
“More than 500 policemen and 5,000 civilians have died after opening of liquor shops since 2015,” Mr. Zoramthanga had said, insisting his “god-fearing” party was and will always be against any policy or act that encourages liquor consumption.
On March 2017, the State of 1.1 million people had 71,158 liquor card holders. A card holder is entitled to six 750 ml bottles of IMFL and 10 bottles each of wine and beer a month from 51 operational outlets.
A card costs Rs. 300 and can be renewed annually for Rs. 100. Visitors to Mizoram are allowed to buy liquor from licenced outlets after showing their inner-line permit, an entry document valid for a week but extendable. Officials in the State’s excise department said more than 60 people hold liquor vendor licence.
Mr. Lal Thanhawla was the Chief Minister when the church-dictated liquor ban was imposed in Mizoram in 1997. The populist move did not help the Congress win the 1998 Assembly polls.
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