It is a strange feeling indeed when a respectable elderly family member asks you to get some Marijuana. Even stranger ,when everyone gets together to smoke it. The chillum or pipe being handed down from your uncle, you taking a pull and handing it over to the nubile niece. This scene on any other day would tantamount of being a scandalous family, but on Shivaratri and in the name of religion, the pot smoking is an accepted ritual of the Vaishnavite society.
This particular day, the Imphal market corners are seen selling the various ingredients needed for the ritual inclusive of the quintessential Ganja which is of course, banned under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Act, 1985. Yet, the Narcotics Control Bureau and other related Home Department personnel turn a blind eye as the persons selling and buying are treated as devotees of a religious affair, the Narcotics and Affairs of Border are busy with their own usual affairs. As the permit to get stoned, is God given.
Perhaps, this is why the State government has not been able to enforce the dry state status in Manipur. Legitimacy is given to the ethnic communities to brew alcohol as it is by- part tradition. Hence , the peripheral towns of Sekmai, Andro and Phayeng have been producing local hooch en masse and in the heart of the city, by the Zeliangrong community. And unlike Shivaratri, the booze ritual is a perennial affair and the devouts throng to the watering spots daily. Here, the license at Paona Bazar, Polo Ground etc. is not God given. Yet, the Excise Department, Police personnel turn the blind eye as for certain that many palms must be greased. The fact is that Manipur is the wettest dry state in the whole nation.
Word has it that the demand for local liquor is in such a high that the producers are not able to distill liquor as per the usual time consuming method but accelerates the process of fermentation by adding urea and further spiking it with chemicals. Well ! Such adulteration would obviously affect the lone liver and various other key organs of the dipsomaniac pilgrim and leading to the obvious latter of meeting the Maker.
The State government should take note of the facts and as factually cannot implement the dry status, other non-state actors and various other civil bodies have also tried their best but curbing the alcohol trade continue to be a Sisyphean effort. As similar to the adage, how many bottles are continually destroyed and confiscated, more bottles flow down from the hill. So, it is best that the State government mull over the matter and study the pros and cons. Take statistical data and calculate how much the State exchequer will benefit from sale taxes, provided also that there will be a curb in the production of spurious liquor.
In Indian mythology and globally, there are various mentions of drunken Gods, which include Shiva, who smokes and drinks. We are after all human and ignoring the cancer warning signs of the tobacco pouch comes as second nature. If the damage done to oneself is voluntary, at least the public who don`™t engage in addiction can benefit from development works which can be earned from taxes of liquor sales. Otherwise, what is the use of being the wettest dry State ?
Leader Writer: Paojel Chaoba