Will UP under Adityanath go the Bihar way and ban liquor?

There have been violent anti-liquor protests led by women across cities and smaller towns in UP

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Following the Supreme Court (SC) directive to shut down liquor vending and serving within the 500-metre radius along the highways, coupled with the rising spate of violent anti-liquor protests led by women across cities and smaller towns in Uttar Pradesh (UP) in the last few days, the state could possibly be slowly going the Bihar way in prohibiting liquor.

The incumbent Yogi Adityanath government has already issued stern directives to the district and police authorities to adhere to the SC and high court orders with regards to sale of liquor and take punitive action against liquor shops flouting the rules.

To add another dimension to this development, UP has been witnessing furious street protests in major towns and semi-urban centres by local residents with a fair and active participation by women against liquor retail shops in Lucknow, Kanpur, Meerut, Gonda, Kushinagar, Saharanpur, Auraiyya and others.

Owing to the SC order, the liquor shops have started shifting away from the highways and settling in the midst of populated pockets, posing fresh challenges for local people and also maintenance of public order, safety and health.

Demands are already being made in the state to prohibit sale of liquor in UP on the lines of Bihar, where the Nitish Kumar government had promulgated Excise Act 2016 proclaiming prohibition in April 2016.

The act contains provisions to punish anyone carrying liquor and raid suspected premises. The law declares 11 years jail for offenders, while adult members of a household could be punished if liquor is found in their premises. The ban on liquor had been one of the most populist pre-poll promises by Nitish in the run up to Bihar poll, and even in the face of stiff opposition and criticism, he has stayed put with the ban.

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