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MP: Political slugfest over liquor hots up

BHOPAL: Home minister Bhupendra Singh’s statement to not provide police protection to liquor contractors during the ongoing agitation against booze shops left the excise department officials puzzled.
Finance minister Jayant Malaiya, who also looks after the excise department portfolio, refused to comment on it. When prodded, all Malaiya said, “It is unfortunate.” He hastened to add, “I don’t want to comment on it. He is my cabinet colleague.”

The home minister on Thursday said that the police won’t intervene in anti-liquor protests. “People have been opposing liquor shops and police presence would mean going against their wishes . Which is why directives are issued to cops not to help liquor contractors during public protests ,” the minister told media in Sagar. Referring to a spike in liquor protests, Malaiya said it has become fashion these days.

The issue is hotting up and the fight against liquor shops across the state appears to have reached the state cabinet. Amid arson and ransacking of liquor shops, the revenue generated through the liquor sale went up from Rs 7,500 crore to some Rs 10,000 crore after liquor contracts were awarded.

A liquor contractor, on condition of anonymity, said, “As of now, selling liquor is not illegal in MP. We are generating massive revenue for the cash-starved state. The government just cannot say no to our security. It is not a mobocracy. You cannot hand us over to mob. Our security is our right,” the contractor who has incurred a loss of more than Rs 60 lakh during the ongoing agitation said.

Sources in the secretariat said the government cannot give a “step-motherly” treatment to a revenue generating department.
The matter has already reached the chief minister and chief secretary BP Singh. The CM has announced phased closure of liquor shops all across the state.

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