Exclusive: Liquor & Crime Cocktail at Kejriwal’s Old Neighbourhood
Have you ever heard protectors of law pleading to a journalist to protect their families? Some Delhi Police officers living in allotted quarters in Kaushambi in Ghaziabad (UP) find themselves helpless to protect their kith and kin from drunkards on the Delhi-Ghaziabad border.
We have written several complaints to higher-ups. But so far Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has done nothing to remove these liquor stores from the border. The three liquor shops run by the Delhi government operate at the border. People purchase alcohol from these shops but sit across the road (in UP) and drink openly in public. Women and children cannot walk down this lane alone even during the day.
– Delhi Police officer
Interestingly, these liquor shops are just 20 metres away from the house Chief Ministers Kejriwal used to live in earlier. According to some residents, Kejriwal fought for the closure of these shops before becoming Chief Minister. But now he has turned a blind eye to the issue.
For the past year-and-a-half, we have sent out formal complaints to Kejriwal, seeking his attention to this menace (sic). He has lived in this area for 15 years but now instead of addressing the issue, he refuses to meet us. So no action has followed.
– VK Mittal, Resident and Complainant
Locals say the Delhi government is loathe to shut down the liquor shops because of the revenue that the sale of alcohol brings in.
As I walked down the street, I realised that I was the only woman there. I became the centre of attention for the men drinking nonchalantly.
To my surprise, all this was happening in broad daylight. No other woman ventured anywhere near this spot. Within ten minutes of my arrival, the men began passing lewd comments which I chose to ignore. Minutes passed by, but there was no policeman in sight. I decided to seek them out. I spotted a beat constable about 200 metres away from the spot.
When I told him what was happening, his reply shocked me.
What can we do? We have stopped them several times from drinking out in the open but they return. The only way to get rid of the menace is for the Delhi government to shut the liquor shops. The police has other things to do. We can’t spend all our time dispersing drunks.
– Beat Constable
But that’s not all.
A few months ago an IPS officer with the Delhi Police was mobbed and beaten up by some drunk men when he tried to remove them from the street.
“But we could take no action against the culprits because the incident occurred in UP, which is not under our jurisdiction,” a Delhi Police officer said.
Concerned about my security, a group of police officers led me close enough to the spot for me to take photographs and record a video of what was happening around the liquor stores. But they were so wary that they refused to accompany me to the other side of the road where an ‘open bar’ operates brazenly.
Is the Police Passing the Buck?
Following a public interest litigation, the Supreme Court passed an order in 2008 saying no liquor shop could operate in the close proximity of 100 metres from residential areas, places of worship, hospitals and educational institutions in UP. But the Delhi Excise Duty policy on liquor shops has expunged the word “residential complex” from the policy document. Is an excise duty policy above the safety and security of women and children?
“We don’t go to Delhi-Ghaziabad border. I don’t allow my children to go there either. Eve teasing and crime is increasing there everyday. We want Kejriwal to close the liquor shops immediately, said Madhu Gupta, a resident.
Passing the buck to the Delhi Police, Ghaziabad City SP Ajay Paul said:
Two days ago we received some information about the alcohol stores from some residents. Our officers went to the spot. We found that all the nuisance was on the Delhi side of the border. I will attend to such nuisance if it occurs on the UP side.
Repeated attempts to contact the Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson failed. Arvind Kejriwal, who promised to provide safety to women and children, is now reluctant to address the grievance of people who till recently were his neighbours.
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