The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha, the largest trade union of tea garden workers in the state, will begin to close all liquor shops in tea gardens in the state from Monday, The Telegraph reported. The organisation’s decision comes after over 140 people died after consuming spurious alcohol in Golaghat and Jorhat last week.

“On Monday, a rally will be organised from every tea garden in Assam by the ACMS and its women’s wing to protest against the government’s inaction [in banning liquor],” Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha State General Secretary Rupesh Gowala said. “An effigy of excise minister Parimal Suklabaidya will be burnt as he is morally responsible for several deaths in Golaghat and Jorhat districts.”

“We will make people shut down all liquor shops, including those selling handia [a traditional beer], chulai [illicit liquor], mod [liquor made of jaggery] and foreign liquor,” he said. “These are all killers, illegal or not.” The women’s wing of the Sangha will shut down liquor shops on tea gardens.

The organisation said it will hold awareness programmes against alcohol in the state, taking the help of doctors, teachers, village headmen and intellectuals.

Raids on illegal liquor vends

Meanwhile, the state administration continued conducting massive raids on illegal liquor vends across the state, particularly in Sivasagar district on Sunday, Northeast Now reported. On Sunday morning, a team led by excise inspector Ashutosh Baruah conducted raids at places like Galaky Lakon Gaon, Trivel Block, Kacharigaon, and Moran Gaon. Similar raids were held at the Hatipotty tea estate and Mekipur tea estate.

Searches were also conducted at Rajmai and Saragua areas under Demow police station. Around 7,000 litres of illicit liquor were found and destroyed during the raids on Sunday. The administration said all liquor dens in the places raided had been destroyed.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Assam also banned the sale of laligur, a form molasses, which is used in the making of Sulai, a country liquor. The state banned it because it is being used to make spurious liquor, officials said.

Excise Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said anyone who wants to use laligur as a fodder for cattle must first take permission from the district magistrate.