THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Student of a girls’ school and residents of Nanthencode in the state capital mounted an aggressive campaign on Thursday demanding the shutdown of a government-run liquor shop which was opened in their neighbourhood as part of a relocation programme.
Dramatic scenes unfolded at Nanthencode on Thursday morning when students of Holy Angels’ School, singing slogans and accompanied by teachers, came out in force demanding the immediate closure of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) shop. Such was the strength of the protest that the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation authorities posted a notice on the shop saying it should not function until further orders.
However, a renewed attempt to open the shop sparked off more protests in the evening as angry residents spilled out into the streets. They reportedly gheraoed Bevco staff who came to open the shop, demanding intervention by senior officers. The shop is among the nearly 180 outlets that Bevco has to relocate due to the December 2016 Supreme Court ruling that liquor shops on national and state highways should close by April 1. The shop in question had been functioning near Bakery Junction and Bevco had moved it to Nanthencode.
The shop opened on Tuesday, but remained shut on Wednesday, February 1, as it was a ‘dry day.’
The next day by 8.30 am, the students, accompanied by their teachers, had assembled before the shop and staged a sit-in. They pointed out that the shop posed a serious threat to their safety.
Shortly afterwards, K Muraleedharan MLA and poet Sugathakumari arrived at the venue offering support to the students. Soon after, the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation secretary arrived at the spot and posted the notice.
The ‘distance rule’ says liquor shops (FL-1 outlets) should not be opened within 200 metres of educational and religious institutions. Bevco officials claim the said shop is 500 metres away from the school gates.