A revolutionary anti-liquor campaign launched by the women of Thaneta village of Rajsamand district in Rajasthan witnessed a historic turnout, when 2,206 out of 3,245 eligible voters cast their vote in favour of shutting down all the liquor shops in the panchayat. Furthermore, 61 votes were cast against the prohibition of liquor and 40 votes were invalid.
Deeksha Chouhan, the 60-something-sarpanch of the village, was among the first to vote. She conducted the voting process, prescribed under the state excise policy that gives the power to the panchayat to close liquor shops in the area, if 50 percent residents vote for it. The polling was supervised by the officials of the district administration, including Sub Divisional Magistrate CP Verma and Collector Arvind Poswal.
The women behind the campaign went door-to-door to urge the villagers to cast their vote. Previously, they held demonstrations, protests and filed several petitions to make their voice heard by senior authorities in the village.
Thrilled at the success of the ‘Sharab Mukt Panchayat’ campaign, Chouhan said she’s hopeful that the future generation will not bear the brunt of liquor addiction. “Several women from the village would complain about how their husbands spent most of their earnings on liquor. The drunken men would often beat their wives and children,” she says.
The village erupted in joy after the blanket ban on liquor was announced. Most villagers were seen dancing outside the polling booth.
Another panchayat named Brar will undergo voting next week for liquor ban.
Women spearheading change
This isn’t the first time that Rajasthan has been at the forefront of putting an end to liquor addiction. On January 30, Kachabali Gram Panchayat put down the shutters on the liquor shop in their village, after passing a referendum. The ban was a result of a campaign run by the women of the village since 2016; 1,937 people out of 2,886 voted in the favour of closure of the shop.
Last January, a group of women in Karnataka stood in waist-to-neck deep water of Krishna river wearing pink headbands, demanding a ban on liquor in the state. As many as 200 women participated in this ‘Jala-Satyagraha’ while 2,000 more participated in a protest to grab the state government’s attention on the matter.
Another women-led campaign against alcohol sale and consumption came to light in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, where the Mahila Mangal Dal announced the imposition of a Rs 1,000 fine on anyone who consumed alcohol or related substances during community celebrations in their village.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)