GUWAHATI: In Christian-majority Mizoram, the Mizo National Front (MNF) government is earning kudos from the influential Church and civil society organisations for its move to bring back prohibition.
Re-enforcing “total prohibition” was one of the promises of the MNF ahead of the November 28 Assembly elections. In keeping with the promise, just days after Zoramthanga had taken over as the chief minister, his government cancelled the liquor vending licenses of three state-run corporations and Mizoram Police battalions. A similar action is likely against the state’s 50 odd wine shops and a few bars, mostly in state capital Aizawl.
The government has also banned the sale of liquor during the festive season of Christmas and New Year. The ban will be in force from December 21 to January 14.
Hailing the decision, Rev F Lalrinnunga said, “We welcome the government’s bold decision to close all state-run liquor shops. The churches in Mizoram have always been averse to the opening up of wine shops as liquor was the reason behind the deaths of many youngsters”. Rev Lalrinnunga is the president of Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee which is a conglomerate of 14 major churches.
The powerful Young Mizo Association has also welcomed the decision. It president Vanlalruata said the state had been severely affected by the menace of liquor and drug.
The Zoramthanga government’s partial re-enforcement of the ban on liquor came four years after Lal Thanhawla’s previous Congress government had partially lifted the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Act in 2014, albeit with regulations of liquor’s sale and consumption. Prior to that, Mizoram was dry for 17 years.
While in the opposition, the MNF always alleged that liquor was killing the state’s youths.
“By going against the Church and social organisations, they (Congress) are selling liquor, thereby killing hundreds and thousands of people. Over the past few years, six to seven thousand people, mostly youth, died in Mizoram prematurely because of liquor,” Zoramthanga had alleged ahead of the polls. He had promised: “Liquor will be a thing of the past if the MNF forms the government”.