A month is almost up and the village of Surla’s liquor ban is on the verge of being lifted. However, the villagers are most upset about this and have threatened agitation if any of the bars in the village are reopened. From a one-month liquor ban in the village, they have now moved the government to ensure that all these bars are shut permanently.
Keep the bars shut demand villagers
The liquor ban enforced by the authorities ends on 21st August. However, Surla villagers want the bars to remain shut permanently. In fact, they have threatened to go on a ‘Door Lock Movement’ and block the highway with every person from the village, including children if this is not done.
This extreme reaction comes after some of the bar owners said that they would reopen when the ban is lifted on 21st August.
Surla villagers held a rally under the banner of ‘Surla Nagrik Kruti Samiti’ with at least 400 participants in the village on Sunday to protest the reopening of the drinking establishments. They shouted slogans against the bars, saying that the bars are frequented by tourists that end up behaving in an unruly manner with the locals.
Santosh Goankar, a villager, says that due to this kind of behavior over the past several years, the locals would not venture outdoors. “These tourists curtailed the freedom of villagers,” he added. And according to him, the agitation will continue until their demands are met.
The villagers voice their irritation and fear
The villagers were pleased with the collector’s order to shut down the bars when it was issued a month ago. They say that the village is at peace after nearly 20 years.
Says Suryakant Gwas, the panch of Thane village, “If these bars are permanently closed down, then no accidents will occur.” It is his opinion that these bars are the cause of the numerous accidents caused by drunk driving on the part of tourists. He just wants his village free of these kinds of elements.
Another villager, Ganesh Gaonkar was adamant about the bars remaining shut permanently stating that the villagers along with the children would protest in the middle of the road. He added that there is a government high school in the village to which the village children go. This too would remain shut as they would not allow the children to attend class if the bars were reopened. “The government does not bother about the school but is bothered about bars,” he said.
The women in the village also complained that tourists often enter their homes in an inebriated state without hesitation. And it wasn’t just the Surla villagers who were up in arms. People from the border villages of Karnataka also joined in the protest, lending their support to Surla. The women, in particular, were in complete favor of a permanent shutdown as they feel that their families are getting ruined thanks to the abundant availability of cheap liquor just across the border. The Navhind Times has more on this story.
Villagers say that they will continue to agitate if their demands are disregarded.