Guwahati, Oct 3: Mahatma Gandhi was a strong supporter of bringing alcohol prohibition as he considered "drinking" the biggest evil in society.
A pro-prohibition group in Assam, which strongly feels that liquor ban should be imposed in the Northeastern state as "drinking" among Assamese people (mostly men) has reached a great proportion, on the occasion of the 148th birth anniversary of Gandhi on Monday, decided to write a letter (a symbolic one) to the deceased Father of the Nation to help the state get rid of alcohol menace and create public awareness about the ill-effects of alcohol.
The members of the group, which calls itself Mod-Mukta Asom Dabi Samity (Liquor-free Assam Demand Committee), on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti wrote a letter to Bapu ji and also staged a dharna in Guwahati to demand ban on liquor in the state.
The letter to Gandhi also urged the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to ban liquor in the state.
"Bapu ji, you had always considered liquor as the biggest evil in society and tried to liberate people from its clutches. But after our country attained Independence, the government did not take any initiative in the anti-liquor campaign--instead, considering it to be good source of revenue for the state, it helped in its distribution," said the letter written by the group.
The group hosted dharnas in various parts of the state on Gandhi Jayanti to press for their demand to ban liquor.
"Mahatma Gandhi, whom we consider the Father of the Nation, had spoken for banning liquor. But our government never followed his ideals in real earnest and therefore, they have no moral authority to garland his photograph on his birth anniversary," said Deep Das, a member of the group.
"We appeal to the government for a complete ban on the sale of liquor as in states like Bihar, Manipur and Nagaland," Das added.
The reason behind the demand by the group has been triggered by the fact that liquor consumption has increased manifold in the state. Das said the state government revenue from the sale of liquor has risen alarmingly last financial year and crossed Rs 250 crore.
"As a result, around 25 per cent of the total population of the state consumes liquor and a majority of the road accident deaths in the state are due to drink driving," he said.
According to an estimate, the state has more than 1,400 licensed liquor shops. The group said that because of alcohol consumption many families have been destroyed.
"It is the women who suffered the most if their husbands develop drinking problem. So, we want rehabilitation of women subjected to domestic violence by their husbands under the influence of alcohol and men who spent their earnings on liquor.
"We also appeal to the state government to explore the possibility of including ill-effects of alcohol and drug abuse in the school curriculum to sensitise students," said another member of the group.