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Unrest drives Kashmiris to booze

The two-decade-old unrest in the Kashmir Valley seems to have driven people in Jammu and Kashmir to drinking as the escalating figures for liquor consumption in the state would suggest. Kashmir reported a 60 per cent increase in the sales of liquor in 2009-10, state finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather revealed in the state assembly on Tuesday. The issue was raised on the floor of the assembly by the BJP MLA. From 10,56,312 bottles in 2008-09, the sale of liquor increased to 16,83,608 bottles in 2009-10 in the Valley, Rather said. “This includes 8,37,482 bottles of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) 8,41,695 bottles of beer and 9,049 bottles of country liquor. However, this is nothing in comparison to the tally for Jammu. The minister said the consumption of liquor has increased from 2,82,77,450 bottles in 2008- 09 to 3,53,56,525 bottles in 2009-10 in the province. BJP MLAs have, over the years, been demanding a check on the consumption of liquor in Jammu. They have also accused the state government of not taking the issue seriously. “In 2008-09 5,70,686 Indian made foreign liquor bottles, costing Rs 10.89 crore were consumed in Srinagar district. As many as 7,537 bottles were consumed in Baramulla and 16,369 bottles in Anantnag district,” the minister said” The estimated money spent on liquor in all three districts in these two years is estimated at Rs 31.98 crore,’ he added.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 April 2011 on page no. 22

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