Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Sunday said he didn’t have the courage to ban alcohol in the state when he witnessed deaths due to consumption of spurious liquor and other harmful substances after outlets were shut during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
He stressed the need for running campaigns against not just liquor but all kinds of addiction.
Baghel was speaking at the launch of ‘Nashamukt Chhattisgarh Abhiyaan’ (addiction free Chhattisgarh campaign) at Prajapita Brahmakumari Ishwariya Vishwavidyalaya centre Shanti Sarovar in Raipur.
He also hailed the spiritual and meditation centre’s ‘Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyan’, calling it a commendable initiative towards building society and appealed to people to ensure their participation in making Chhattisgarh addiction-free.
“Addiction usually starts from childhood or young age. Initially they start from 'sutta' (smoking) as a hobby and it gradually becomes a habit. As stress increases they start smoking more cigarettes. If stress is more in the evening, drinking of liquor starts. Finally they land in the hospital. Addiction is not good in any form. It causes only harm. It is very harmful for all of us physically and mentally. It affects the person, the family and the society as a whole,” he said.
Being the chief minister, Baghel said he can order prohibition in the entire state “right now” even as he wondered if it will solve the problem of addiction.
The CM said he learnt about the problems that cropped up when liquor shops were closed during the country-wide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“All the shops were closed, transportation was closed, families were staying behind the doors, but complaints of domestic violence started surfacing. Despite the lockdown in force for a long time, it was seen that people managed to arrange stuff for addiction,” he said.
When people did not get anything, they even consumed sanitizer and many lost their lives due to it, said the Congress leader.
“I did not have courage then to order a liquor ban after witnessing people dying due to consumption of spurious alcohol and other substances during the lockdown. I don't want to implement anything that will cost lives,” he added.
Organisations that deal with de-addiction can be helpful for persons dependent on various forms of intoxication, he said. “We have to end this social evil together with the support of people,” he said.
When it comes to banning intoxicating substances, women immediately favour it as if only men consume them, he said.
“Before the 2018 assembly elections, there was pressure from women to ban liquor. We had then announced to ban liquor (as a poll promise). Liquor ban means we have to move ahead towards an addiction free society. Even during the ‘Bhent Mulaqat’ programme (CM's public interaction drive), some people said that alcohol should be banned,” he said.
The CM said they have constituted a committee headed by their party MLA Satyanarayan Sharma to study the issue and it has visited other states where prohibition is in force.
“When women are asked about banning alcohol, they raise both hands in its favour. When I ask whether ‘gudaku’ (paste made of tobacco and molasses) should be banned or not, they don't raise their hands as women use it more than men. The campaign should be against every kind of addiction, not only against liquor,” he said.
Baghel said people should be addicted to serving humanity and devotion towards God.
-With PTI Input