Thankfully the UT administration has clarified that it was not considering any move to open liquor vends across Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier reports suggested that Excise Department has moved a proposal to open liquor shops in various districts of Jammu and Kashmir triggering a controversy. Religious and political organisations in Kashmir opposed the move prompting the government to clarify on Sunday that it was not considering any such move. The Finance department of the Union territory issued a clarification saying it has not taken any policy decision regarding issuance of fresh liquor licences in unserved areas. “No list of unserved areas has either been considered or approved. No decision will be taken without participation of stakeholders and the due process,” the department said in an order issued on Sunday. This clarification has come as a big relief to the people of Kashmir Valley who are already confronting drug abuse and could, therefore, not afford to have liquor vends spread all over.
Though the controversy has died down for the moment, the UT administration need to understand the sensitivities of the place they are ruling. Kashmir is historically seen as an abode of saints and sages and majority of the population here belongs to Muslim faith. Any report, fake or true, suggesting that 67 liquor vends would be open in the Valley has every potential to disturb the fragile peace here. The administration need to dig into the matter and find out that the officers/officials who floated this report. It goes without saying that such reports have every potential to pollute the atmosphere here, anger the people and can lead to disruption of peace.
Instead of talking about opening of liquor shops, the administration needs to take seriously the issue of drug abuse here. Reports suggest that there has been alarming increase in drug peddling and drug abuse. Only a few days back, heroin worth crorers of rupees was seized from north Kashmir. Every day such seizures are reported in local media. It is responsibility of the government to pull up the official organizations that deal with drug trafficking and abuse. Though the Jammu and Kashmir Police has come forward and established some drug de-addiction centres, need is to have such centres in almost all districts. Secondly, the political and religious leaders who came forward to oppose opening of liquor shops in Kashmir (genuinely so) need to voice their concerns about drug abuse too. This monster is eating into the very vitals of Kashmir society and the target is the young generation, a generation that is our future.