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Women banish liquor in Cuddapah village

By M. V. Subramanyam

CUDDAPAH, MAY 19. Women, cutting across caste barriers, rose like a torrent to enforce total prohibition in Brahmanapalle village in Gopavaram mandal in Cuddapah district by forcing the closure of four `belt shops' (unauthorised liquor outlets) selling cheap liquor in the village and destroying arrack distillation sills in the Harijanawada.

Once victims of abuse and indiscriminate beating by their husbands, who came home drunk after midnight, the women decided to drive away the evil of alcohol from their village. That they did, besides ensuring stoppage of arrack distillation.

The women in their endeavour were led by the Brahmanapalle MPTC member, Uma Gouri, whom a team of presspersons who visited the village on Wednesday met. With a majority of men in Brahmanapalle, a small village having 250 households, being addicted to cheap liquor, not a day or night passed by without men entering into drunken brawls with their wives and beating them, recalled Chinnakka.

Members of 13 DWCRA groups and six Velugu thrift groups met under the leadership of Ms. Uma Gouri, who was also president of the Dhanalakshmi Mahila Sangham. Women of the village and the Harijanawada marched to the belt shops on April 4 and gave an ultimatum to liquor sellers to close down the shops within a day.

They then went to the Harijanawada and destroyed arrack distillation sills, the raw materials and pots. Unable to resist the women force, liquor vendors closed their shops, but kept the liquor stock elsewhere and catered to the `guzzlers'. Baffled by the situation, nearly 100 members of Sri Venkata Ganesh, Sri Vijayalakshmi, Sri Dhanalakshmi, Sri Sivasai, Sri Venkateswara, Sri Saibaba, Sri Venkateswara and some women groups met again the next day to discuss the situation. The enraged women unearthed liquor stocks from the houses of liquor sellers and handed over a couple of them to excise officials.

Excise and police officials stood by the women of the village, recalled the women expressing gratitude to the uniformed personnel. Three days later, a villager consumed alcohol at Badvel, eturned to the village and began shouting that none could stop him. The man's wife and other women informed the police and got him arrested. The women also warned men of the village that anybody consuming liquor would meet the same fate and this led to the men of the village kicking their habit.

The war waged by the women gradually led to a sort of `ban' on liquor sale and consumption in adjoining villages, with men fearing that their family members would themselves hand them over to the police. Die-hard guzzlers of the village gave up drinking even when they went on work to Badvel and are giving their hard-earned money to their women wives. "Our families are prospering and living in peace now," the women say with pride.

The District Collector, Jayesh Ranjan, visited Brahmanapalle on knowing the success story of the women, lauded them and granted Rs. 5 lakhs for development of the village.

The press team was accompanied by the Velugu Project Managers, Uma Maheswari and Noor Ahmed. The women of Brahmanapalle are inspiring women of other villages also.

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