|SOCIETY & LIFESTYLE
In troubled Kashmir Valley, liquor sale doubles
This is though only five shops sell the stuff legally and there’s a militants ban on alcohol
The sale of liquor has doubled in Kashmir, even though the militants and the Islamists have imposed a virtual ban on alcohol in the Muslim-dominated Valley.
According to government information, 1,678,208 bottles of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), beer and country liquor were consumed in the Valley in the fiscal 2009-10.
This got the government Rs 19.39 crore, a 50 percent jump from Rs 13.59 crore in fiscal 2008-09. In 2008-2009, 929,677 bottles of liquor were consumed.
In 2009-10, the sale of beer alone increased to 803,924 bottles, up from 335,133 bottles in 2008-09 in Srinagar.
IMFL consumption increased from 570,686 bottles in 2008-09 to 810,083 bottles in 2009-10 in the entire state.
Country liquor consumption increased from 1,707 bottles in 2008-09 to 8,625 bottles in 2009-10.
All figures were given by state Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather to the Jammu and Kashmir assembly.
All this even though there are only five licensed liquor shops in the Valley—one in Batwara near the 15 Corps headquarters, three on the Boulevard Road on the banks of the Dal—mostly populated by tourists, and another in tourist resort Gulmarg, in the vicinity of an army high altitude warfare school.
All of them do brisk business because they are located in high security zones and, thus, protected from protestors.
Budget hotels in Srinagar had stopped serving liquor after the militants said so in the 1990s. However, five star hotels, resorts and a few guesthouses in high security areas continued to serve liquor though mostly in bottles.
Liquor baron Vijay Mallya had last year proposed resuming the cultivation of hops—used in the manufacture of beer—in Kashmir.
But the plan was shelved following an uproar.
Iftikhar Gilani is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.com.