Around 700 brides in Madhya Pradesh have been gifted mogris – wooden bats used to wash clothes – by a state minister to beat their husbands if they turn alcoholic, PTI reported on Sunday. The message on the wooden bats read ‘sharabiyon ke sutara hetu bhent, police nahi bolegi’ (gift for beating drunkards, police will not intervene), reported Outlook.

Gopal Bhargava, the state minister of panchayati raj and rural development, gifted the bats to the brides during a mass marriage ceremony on Saturday in his home town Garhakota in Sagar district. “Whenever I visit any rural or urban area in my constituency, women complain about their husband’s drinking habit. They inform me that whatever little they earn is snatched away by their husband for alcohol. They [women] are also subjected to physical violence,” Bhargava told PTI. “The idea of gifting mogri struck me when a woman asked me whether she should get her husband to stop drinking by beating him with this wooden plank.” He, however, advised the women to first try to talk their husbands out of the habit.

The minister said the public needs to be involved to deal with the menace of alcoholism. “The government or police alone would not be able to solve this problem. For this, people have to come forward. There are many examples in history which show that when masses intervene, things have changed for the better,” Bhargava said. “An atmosphere is being created in the entire state against liquor but people need to be educated on the issue. It is essential before declaring prohibition.”

On April 9, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan hinted that the state would soon implement a total ban on alcohol. “Alcohol prohibition will be implemented in the entire state by closing all liquor shops in a phased manner,” he said.

The chief minister said the first phase has already been rolled out, with the government closing down all liquor shops situated within a radius of five kilometres from the banks of Narmada. “In the next phase, the liquor shops will not be allowed to open in residential localities, near educational institutes or religious places,” he added. Chouhan also said that a de-addiction drive will be launched across the state.

Bihar and Gujarat are the only states in the country that have a total ban on alcohol in place.