Alcohol availability has been a thorn in the sides of many since the coronavirus pandemic hit India. From suicides to people resorting to drinking alcohol -- there have been a spate of horrifying incidents as liquor stores remained shut amid the lockdown. Now, roughly 40 days later, stores have opened their shutters.
On May 4, after the government reduced restrictions concerning the sale of alcohol people came out in droves to queue up outside liquor stores. In many places social distancing norms were not followed, and the police had to intervene. In parts of the country, the chaos also prompted officials to ensure that shops were again closed down.
There is of course a certain amount of pain when something that had been promised does not materialise. And when the Andhra Pradesh government hiked alcohol prices by 50% in a bid to discourage liquor consumption, many were not pleased. Incidentally, shops had reopened on Monday with a 25% hike in liquor prices. With the latest hike the prices have increased by 75% in two days.
A video posted by TV5 News had now surfaced on Twitter where a rather irate man in Vizag can be seen addressing the cameras. "If anyone dies because of alcohol deprivation, we will consider it as a killing and the government is responsible for the said deaths," he states.
He adds that the government ought to ensure that alcohol is made available to those who want to consume it, and at a reasonable price. Calling consumption a "personal choise" he adds that "Just because few people are don’t consume or are against alcohol consumption, the government cannot stop the sale".
"Only if you work the whole day you would understand the pain that we are going through. Drive the auto for the whole day, or do back-breaking labour the whole day. The CM has had a privileged upbringing and is not aware of physical labour, and hence he is taking these decisions," he added.
The man in the video also assured that 'we' would not be voting in favour of these governments. "We are ready to challenge any representative of the government on this decision in a one-on-one debate," he added.
While making it difficult for people's budgets, the impending hike has not actually managed to deter tipplers. People have continued to gather in large numbers at the shops across the state, flouting social distancing norms. Andhra Pradesh had said that while the news prices would come into effect immediately, shops will open only after the issue of formal orders and the new prices are updated online.
Andhra Pradesh is not the only state that has opted to hike alcohol prices.
The Delhi government has imposed a 'special coronavirus fee' that has been added to the MRP of alcohol. This is a 70% tax on the liquor price, and came into effect on Tuesday.