Jammu, May 21 : Jammu and Kashmir Excise Department on Thursday allowed “selected” wine shops to operate across Jammu region with six in Jammu district thus triggering chaos. Huge rush of customers early morning on Thursday lined up outside wine shops in Bus Stand, Trikuta Nagar, Lower Muthi, Channi and Gandhi Nagar localities to purchase liquor as wine shops opened almost after a gap of nearly 50 days.
However, a huge rush of purchasers outside shops also defied social distancing amid the presence of police personnel on duty. “People stood in line since morning but at many places where the wine shops were functional, chaos prevailed following which we were left with no other option than requesting the traders to down the shutter,” a senior police official said. An official of Jammu and Kashmir Excise Department said that out of total 220 shops in the Union Territory, total 40 shops were allowed to operate and six of them were in Jammu district.
Pertinent to mention here that the J&K Government has also hiked 50 per cent excise duty on sale of liquor and despite that, a huge rush of boozers was witnessed out the shops. "The guidelines issued by the Chief Secretary were violated today because it was ordered that all shops in the orange zone should be allowed to function," J&K Wine Traders Association expressed.
They said that the Jammu District Administration and the top hierarchy of the administration was of opinion that opening of all wine shops would have helped in maintaining social distancing and lesser chaos but the department’s decision of opening only “selected” shops is not a welcome step and allegedly played a spoilsport in government’s effort of controlling COVID-19 spread. "We were already of the opinion that government should not consider only stand alone shops to prevent this situation," they said, adding that with opening of shops on Thursday, the two month long exercise of police, doctors and all others engaged in fighting corona pandemic, will become a futile exercise if the positive cases pop up with spread of contagious disease.
"The four-member working committee of the wine traders association had also gave in writing to the administration of steps to be taken by which social distancing can be maintained and adherence to the guidelines laid but it was an utter violation of the norms, after the situation broke out with the opening of the shops this morning," they added. (UNI)