VILLUPURAM: A man sleeping on the parapet of a well rolls into it and dies; three persons pelt stone at a State-owned bus and break its windshield; a caste Hindu assaults a Dalit schoolboy for ‘not showing him due respect’. Apart from the fact that these incidents took place in the district, the common thread that runs across the three incidents is the fact that they did it under the influence of alcohol.
Given the fact that the district has the second highest number of TASMAC outlets - 290 - after Tiruvannamalai, police and social activists aren’t surprised at the spurt in alcohol-related cases in recent times.
Take the recent arrest of four persons in connection with the serial rape/murders in the district. “One of the accused confessed that they committed the offences under the influence of alcohol,” a police official said.
Another area of concern for the law enforcement agencies is the spurt in drink-driving cases. So far this year, the police have registered 279 cases and levied a fine of `2.2 lakh.
Another issue bothering the police is the mushrooming of illicit liquor manufacturing units. Identifying some of the hotspots, a social activist on condition of anonymity said, “Kalvarayan hills is the hub of illicit liquor manufacturing units. They function out of makeshift facilities, as during the raids its easier for them to vacate the spot.”
“The units function with the blessings of some officials, who get their cut. All the raids and seizures are mere eyewash,” he added.
Accusing the PEW personnel of being hand in glove with smugglers, the activist said, “These sleuths arrest only small fish and facilitate large inter-state smuggling rackets.”
Apart from posing threat to people on the road, tipplers make the life of passengers on government buses really difficult, a TNSTC conductor told Express. “Buses are like sitting ducks for the drunkards. If we oppose their behaviour, the very next day they would stage a blockade and even assault the staff,” the conductor said. Travelling on footboards and puking inside the bus is quite common on buses, he adds.
The way out, the activist said, was to impose total prohibition in TN. “Take the Kerala model as an example and phase out liquor. This would help reduce smuggling and also bring down the deaths,” he added.