Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu), May 27 (ANI): Thousands of farmers engaged in toddy tapping staged a protest and later courted arrest in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore city on Thursday against the government's decision to ban tapping and sale of toddy, a white coloured drink extracted from palm trees.
The agitating farmers including women carrying pots used to tap toddy staged a mass rally and took to the streets before the police arrested and herded them into vehicles.
They demanded that the State Government must lift the ban on toddy tapping that was imposed 23 years ago.
The protestors claimed that permitting the rural people to tap toddy would benefit hundreds of poor farmers.
"Thousands of Tamilians are affected by this ban on toddy tapping. It is a cruel act on the part of the government since toddy has been a livelihood for hundreds of rural folk," said Nallaswamy, President of the Tamil Nadu Toddy Movement.
"Yes, we will fight tooth and nail against this decision of the government to ban toddy," he added.
The farmers, who are abreast with the technique of tapping toddy, also demanded that government should release the report of Justice Sivasubramanian Commission.
Reportedly, this commission had recommended that toddy tapping is not illegal and also highlighted this frothy drink as a part of food of the locals.
"Toddy contains only 4.8 percent of alcohol. It has been a natural drink that even infants have been fed from time immemorial as a healthy drink. We will carry on our crusade and I am sure people will support us," said Nagarajan, a protesting farmer.
The Tamil Nadu Toddy Movement also announced that it would tap toddy and sell the same at the venue of the World Classical Tamil Conference scheduled in June.
Toddy that is extracted from a coconut tree or palm tree and consumed as an alcoholic drink was banned in Tamil Nadu in 1987. (ANI)