A mob assaulted a Tamil Nadu police official on Monday when he attempted to stop their protests outside a Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation liquor store in Sencherimalai near Sulur, The News Minute reported. The agitators were customers of the local Tasmac store who were protesting the operator’s attempts to allegedly overcharge them for alcohol. Several police officers were later deployed to disperse the crowd.

The sub-inspector, who was in the area, tried to intervene when arguments between the operators and the customers escalated into a brawl, with the owners assaulting the regulators. The development follows a Supreme Court order banning the sale of alcohol within a 500 metre radius of state and national highways from April 1.

The incident follows a protest against a Tasmac store in Tiruvallur district’s Lakshmipuram. Locals in the area said the Supreme Court ban had forced customers from Ponneri, where outlets were shutdown, to flock to their store increasing demand and “creating a nuisance”, The News Minute reported.

Similar protests were staged across the state. Local media reports said at least half of the liquor shops in Tamil Nadu have been forced to shut down leading to serpentine queues and stampede-like situations, the news portal reported.

Soon after his appointment in February, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had announced the shutting of 500 state-run liquor shops.