The reaction is sure to accumulate its strength if the liquor is facilitated to turn as culture. This will toss the walls of modesty, cross the moral frontiers and, of course, de-stabilize the social institutions. Its fall-out is same in our societies and around because of uniformity in cultural values and patterns. Some realize its distraction and they fight it.
Bihar had a worst experience where alcoholism with its destructive affects had started to run through the veins and nerves of their social structure. This forced the men and women from societal to political fronts to come out and to seek ban on liquor. Women were the real driving force behind the move, in fact. Though the matter was strolling from executive to judiciary, still the political dispensation with a huge support of the masses was firm to make Bihar a ‘dry state’.
The addicts of alcohol and other substances have become a nuisance beyond the boarders of Bihar as well. But the people and the government of Bihar took the lead for their exceptional wake up against the evil. The state, which had been the reference for all negative things, witnessed the ‘longest human chain ever made’ to affirm their support and commitment to the prohibition of liquor enforced in the state since April, 2016.
It was indeed a historical and unprecedented public movement in the context of social cause in which over three crore people participated. The chain was stretched to 11400 km in all the 38 districts of the state. By holding this mammoth event with utmost discipline and bravery against the alcohol, the ‘poor’ state was greatly able to remove its ‘past tags’ which had become its ‘identity’. In the same way, it is prohibited in the states of Gujarat, Nagaland and Mizoram as well as the union territory of Lakshadweep. There is partial ban on alcohol in some districts of Manipur too.
Being acknowledged by all, Kashmir is a part of geography wherein a particular socio-cultural milieu has gradually evolved to sustain the contours of collective life. In Kashmir, any little conspiracy against or deviation from the ethos, is largely viewed as an aggression on their cultural forts. This can be true to other regions too, where people are conscious viz a viz their history and identity.
Among other social evils and cultural prohibitions in this part of the globe, the sale and consumption of liquor is generally considered extremely bad rather most hated, throughout. It is mostly because of its Muslim predominance originating its cultural-base from Islamic injections and teachings like other Muslim settlements elsewhere. Even an ordinary Muslim hates it from the core though, sometimes being seemingly weak in following the fundamental divine commandments. Liquor/intoxicant is ‘ummul khab'ais’, the mother of evils, in the spirit of Islamic teachings. There is, of course, logic and rationale in the saying which is rather a conclusion of all modern studies being carried out to expose the affects of liquor and substance abuse.
The consumption of liquor tells upon the social health of a society and ails the physique of an individual too. The irreparable damages being done by the liquor consumption is acknowledged across all the societies irrespective of religion and region. Even the drunkards in general bow their heads when the grave consequences of liquor are brought forth and discussed.
To protect the valley from the chain of consequences of liquor affecting all needs to go Bihar way. Admittedly, there isn't a mass consumption of liquor in Kashmir except in some residential pockets, hotels, clubs etc. However, the other intoxicants have taken its roots more deeply in the absence of social and political empathy. The flow of liquor, if not stopped from the source, can percolate down to the common streets and lanes to destabilize the already fragile moral structure where there is no wide space for such a nuisance, still.
The government, time and again, has denied to entertain any organised move seeking the prohibition of liquor. Recently, a feeler was given, instead, to establish wine shops in every nook and corner to promote liquor culture. This is not a public demand to be addressed that too without any protest and hartal. To them, the liquor-economy is vital than the liquor-fall out. It seems, the luxurious wishes of a few are painfully felt but the growing rate of domestic violence involving wife beating and victimisation of children, rapes, eve teasing, murders, dacoity, gambling etc is left unchecked. All these social issues are either linked to liquor and intoxicants or to be dangerously aggravated by liquor. Pertinently, Bihar too has its tourist attractions with some of them representing the world famous monumental sites having civilisational identity. This proves that there is no link between banning the liquor and risking the tourism, the way it is projected here.
Some try to support the theory of ‘social drinking’, and are vehemently arguing that moderate drinking, till it does not intoxicates, is not harmful rather socially good to show the gestures of compatibility with the varied people at parties and functions. They want to go western way where we find this as a part of their culture. But every drunkard is basically a victim of social drinking. No one starts by huge schooners, let's admit. And, is this compulsory to foster social drinking in our conflict ridden society? Have we overcome all other social problems and social issues to turn to revolve the ‘issue’ of so-called social drinking?
Some other supporters justify the drinking by considering it a disease not an addiction, thus, expressing their helplessness before it. In fact, drinking causes or aggravates the various ailments but is not itself a disease. The people, for example, die in road accidents due to drunk driving are only addicts not patients. Yes, this can become a disease when allowed to be consumed by the few thirsty and social drunkards and their supporters. .
In the past, there has been a voice against liquor, its sale and consumption in Kashmir raised by some politico-religious or purely religious organizations from time to time. But it was not so strong or much organized. The echo of that voice fails to strongly strike the walls of the institutions. So, it has remained only a little buzz.
To be fair in the present context, a socio-religious organisation popularly known as ‘Karwan -e- Islami’ has seemingly made it a vow to get the liquor banned in the elsewhere state. It is an important provision in its constitution. The organization has simultaneously passed several resolutions which reached out to the state assembly as well. It has been canvassing to get the support at mass level to seek the prohibition on liquor. The voice seems to be genuine. If the organization is fighting for the righteous cause more vigorously than others, to me, other interested non-state actors ranging from public to civil society groups and from religious scholars to academics apart from bona-fide students, leaving aside the respective ideological differences, must join it to compel the authorities to enforce the ban on liquor. Certain disagreements over some matters should not come in the way of achieving greater goals.
Preaching self restraint from liquor by various individuals and religious groups is undoubtedly a great effort but the supportive legislation to strengthen the discourses being delivered at the pulpits is immensely significant. We have a potential scriptural support to abstain from alcoholism. And above all, when it was done in Bihar, why can't be here? Still we have a time to do it now. Better late than never!