Post Mortem

The Indian Made Foreign Liquor Imbroglio in Nagaland

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 12/27/2020 12:39:03 PM IST

 It is no wonder that the first miracle of Jesus recorded in the New Testament was that of the turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana yet none should forget, it was in sync with the culture and tradition of the people of that time and era. For the Jewish people, the wine was part of stable food meaning it was a part of thedietof their days. In line with that context, the intention here is neither to misinterpret nor interpret the element of consumption of wine, liquor, wine, beer, and others. Rather, the intention is to address the fact that today one cannot fail to address and deny the ill-reality associated with the consumption of liquor. The issue of Indian Made Foreign Liquor in Nagaland is like the song ‘you can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape my life’. In the sense that the Nagaland has become so wet like the flooded roads in Nagaland that talk about liquor can neither be ignored nor negated lest history will cry upon us for the generations lost owing to the liquor. 

The Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act 1989 has come a long way yet today it is placed at the altar of debate, question, criticism, and doubts over its ability to implement the prohibition in letter and spirit. They say it either my way or your way or the skyway but with the reality of the liquor in Nagaland, there cannot be a skyway. It could either total blanket implementation of the prohibition act to the letter and spirit or that of the upliftment of the prohibition of the act so that the skyway of black marketing and proliferation of liquor can be prevented. They say in our land it’s the glass at the end for that matter of sorrow and happiness in the life of the people. In times of sorrow and happiness, the catch is to drink a glass. 

In Nagaland, one might not find a clinic and hospital in all the residential areas yet one will find an abode of liquor in a humble hut that meticulously dispenses mineral water bottles for the cause of the people. One wonders the sacrifice they do for the sake of humanity even though they only sell mineral waters, all, but for the people. Not to forget the hotels, dhabbas, and freelance shops that cater liquor to people. One cannot deny nor ignore that Indian Made Foreign Liquor flows through the towns, villages, hills, valleys, and hillocks of Nagaland. The question is how far can we ignore to deny that Nagaland today is still a dry state on paper and legally it is a crime to possess’ liquor. The question is how far is it or how long is it to acknowledge the broken prohibition act and address the proliferation of drinks and liquor. The bust of illegal liquor dispensing plant by the Assam Rifles at Dimapur, the instance of Dimapur Naga Students’ Union crusade against the sale of liquor in Dimapur, host of the instance of IMFL beings caught in the various districts, towns, and villages of Nagaland speaks for itself the plight of the so-called dry state of Nagaland. It does not need rocket science nor Artificial Intelligence to know that the Prohibition Act has fallen and that we the people and the society need to address the issue with a positive mechanism. 

There can be no skyway nor no-way and the people of Nagaland needs to choose either of the ways as that of prohibition or upliftment of the prohibition for the better of the society. If the path is for the total prohibition of the liquor, the law of the land and the upholders of the law must make sure that what had been passed by the legislation is implemented in the best of truth and letter. In this scenario, the role of the civil societies, and the church along with the religious organization to that matter needs to help supplement the government to implement the prohibition order. Lest it becomes a mockery of the law and the act.However, if the path is such that the context calls for the upliftment of the prohibition, adequate measures and mechanisms could be addressed to help educate and sensitize the people about the usage of alcohol. In that scenario, the civil societies and that of the social-cultural-religious institutions needs to add to the task of the government. It is not the sole prerogative of the government nor that of the civil societies rather it is the call and the commitment of the society as a community to address the menace of alcoholism in Nagaland.

In the debate for a dry and a wet state, and that of the prohibition and upliftment the society cannot see the people become victims of alcohol. The present state of the flow of alcohol is not conducive for the people. Even though Nagaland is on prohibition, liquor still flows in the land. And a significant feature of it is the presence of the black market and adulteration of liquor that adequately affects the health of the people. No one knows the level of quality of the liquors that flows in Nagaland. The instance of the busting of liquor plants by the Assam Rifles brings to light that the quality of the liquor will harm the lives of the consumers. It will rapidly affect the health of the consumers owing to the adulteration. Besides, liquors are brought from the neighbouring states and one cannot know the quality level of consumption standards. In such a context, there is none to regulate the quality of the liquor that is consumed by the people in the land. For which the answers might be that of blanket prohibition or that of upliftment of the prohibition. There can be no middle way nor middle path concerning the flow of IMFL in Nagaland. The way is either one where there is no collaboration or co-existence of prohibition and the flow of the liquor. 

If at all the prohibition is lifted the concern will be that Nagaland will become a drunk state and that liquor will flow in the land where thousands will lose their lives to liquor. The concern is that young and old will be flunked into full time drinking as liquor would be available in the nooks and corners of Nagaland. And the fear is that Nagas being known to drinking since the days of ancestors will be addicted to drinking and that concern is well taken for the fact that our ancestor wasknown to drinking rice beer before the dawn of the western missionaries. All concern merits a serious ponder and articulations and none could take it away easily without concerns. For none could take away the life of an individual just like that way. However, the irony is that the flow of liquor is still flowing like a stream or river without blockade. And that ugly truth is the deal that needs to be discussed and solved adequately according to the sign of the time. In this context, implementing total prohibition is like that of belling the cat for the Naga society today. Until that happens discussion about the upliftment of the prohibition act of 1989 is bound to happen time and again.

Chenijan Patton, Tsumang-B. Bhandari Town

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