The local administration in Punjab’s Sri Muktsar Sahib district stirred a controversy on Wednesday when it asked temples and gurudwaras to publicise a state government order announcing home delivery of liquor, amid a nationwide lockdown imposed to combat the spread of the coronavirus, NDTV reported.
The Opposition Akali Dal termed the request “sacrilege”. Akali Dal Spokesperson Daljeet Singh Cheema said the government should immediately withdraw the order. “Muktsar Sahib is a revered site in Sikh history,” he said. “The administration’s order is a mark of the government’s desperation for revenue.”
Muktsar Sahib Deputy Commissioner of Police Aravind Kumar apologised in the evening, saying that it was “mistakenly mentioned” in the order that the information be communicated via the loudspeakers of local gurdwaras. He said a corrected order had been issued.
In rural Punjab, it is a practice to make important government announcements through loudspeakers in the village gurdwaras and temples, ThePrint reported.
Meanwhile, Cheema continued his attack, targeting Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. “You have not only insulted the holy land of the forty martyrs, but also all the religious places in the state,” Cheema said.
The Congress government in Punjab had decided on Wednesday that apart from allowing liquor vendors to open in non-containment areas, home delivery of liquor of up to two litres will also be allowed. The stores will be allowed to be open during the curfew exemption hours, which are from 7 am to 3 pm. However, some districts allowed online delivery after these hours and others banned the operation of liquor shops altogether, allowing only online sale.
The Centre had first imposed a nationwide lockdown from March 25 to April 14. It was extended first till May 3 and then till May 17. However, in orders issued earlier this month, the Centre allowed including liquor shops to open in most parts of the country, excluding in containment zones.
The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 52,952 and the country recorded 1,793 fatalities, according to the figures from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday morning.