New Delhi: While the Aam Aadmi Party maybe fighting an anti-drug campaign in Punjab, an RTI by activist group Swaraj Abhiyan has revealed that the state government has opened 58 new liquor shops in the city in the past year and half.
Swaraj Abhiyan on Tuesday held a public hearing at northeast Delhi’s Khajoori Khas demanding the shutting of a liquor shop in the area. Founder of Swaraj Abhiyan group Prashant Bhushan, who was present at the ‘jan sunwaai’ said that the residents had complained that the liquor shop was destroying the local community as more and more youths were getting addicted to alcohol.
The liquor shop in question had opened last year and is the fourth liquor shop in the area, Residents argued that the liquor shop has created multiple issues, primary one being the safety of women and children in the area as drunken men roam around the streets after sunset.
Condemning the AAP government, Tejpal Rawat, a local resident said that the state government is hypocrite in its nature. “While they are trying to make Punjab drug free, they are promoting alcohol in Delhi by opening new liquor shops.”
“People of Karawal Nagar voted for Kapil Mishra thinking that he would do good for the community here, but instead he is the one who is giving license for these liquor shops,” added Rawat.
Assuring the locals who had gathered for the public meeting that the liquor shop would be shut down, Prashant Bhushan said that the government says that no new liquor shops will open in the next year, but what about the ones that have already opened in the last year? “AAP is playing political game by saying that it won’t open liquor shops in the next year because they are going for polls in Punjab,” added Bhushan.
Mukesh Gupta, who had filed the RTI to know about the number of liquor shops opened in the city, said that government gave different figures in different RTIs. “They talk about participative democracy but hardly allow people’s point of view in matters concerning them,” said Gupta.
Jyoti Sharma (16), a resident whose school is very close to the liquor shop, alleges that drunk men sleep in the lane outside their school. “We refuse to go to school because of the drunkards. The police have done nothing to help us yet,” she said.
“When I was in AAP, we formulated the Swaraj Bill which allowed locals to have a say in the liquor shops opening in the area, but the current government has now shelved the bill as alcohol gives the government good revenue,” said Bhushan alleging that black money was being taken to give licenses to new liquor shops.
This article first appeared in The Times of India, Delhi Edition issue dated 24.08.2016