GUWAHATI: In election-bound Mizoram, liquor drinkers will go dry if a conglomerate of seven political parties, which have forged a pre-poll alliance, grabs power.
The non-BJP and non-Congress Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) promised that it would enforce a total ban on liquor by lifting the existing Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) or MLPC Act, 2014, if voted to power.
The Christian-majority Mizoram was a dry state until the enforcement of the MLPC Act. Following its enforcement, the ban on liquor was lifted but its sale and consumption regulated. From 2015 in the aftermath of the enforcement of the MLPC Act, the state’s Congress government started issuing liquor cards. A card holder can buy, at the most, six bottles of liquor and 12 bottles of beer a month. The cards are issued by the state’s excise department to people aged over 21 years following payment of Rs.500 as registration fees and renewed annually through payment of Rs.300.
The MLPC Act was enforced despite protests by several influential church organisations in the hill state. Currently, the state has around 30 retail liquor shops and two bars.
ZPM spokesman, K Sapdanga, alleged the MLPC Act had severely affected the Mizo society at large.
“Enforcing a total ban on the sale and consumption of liquor is a ZPM resolution. The people in Mizoram are suffering a lot as there is no discipline. There is an alarming rise in the number of people drinking liquor. Most of the drinkers are youngsters who take advantage of liquor’s illegal sale. Realising the gravity of the situation, we have taken a call. If we are voted to power, we will consult the various organisations before enforcing the ban,” Sapdanga told The New Indian Express on Tuesday.
Last week, opposition Mizo National Front chief and two-time former Chief Minister Zoramthanga had claimed that liquor was the reason for the deaths of over 500 policemen and 5,000 civilians in the state since 2015.
Mizoram will go to elections by the year-end. The Congress has been in power in the state for two terms.