• By : Tawfeeq Irshad Mir
Right now this question is stirring my consciousness as I lay on my bed, my thoughts superimposing me in diversity. Every single act projects a history behind and likewise the wine vending and kashmir too has a little bit of history. Let’s dive into the history a bit: A woman named Marion Doughty who visited Kashmir in 1900. In her book ‘Afoot through the Kashmir valleys’ (1901) she wrote, “The Kashmir wines, too, are no longer to be despised, and their Medoc and Barsac are both strengthening and pleasant to the taste.” She was well versed with Sir Walter Roper Lawrence’s masterly book ‘The valley of Kashmir’ (1895) writes: In olden times Kashmir had been famous for its grapes, but through laziness, or the exorbitant exactions of officials, they had fallen out of cultivation, and only the wild plant was seen clambering over fences or throwing graceful arms round the tall populars.
Another author Englishman Godfrey Thomas Vigne, who visited Kashmir in around 1835, writes that higher officials in govt used to consume distilled wine which was extracted from crushed grapes after fermentation. Both the writers describe road impediments as a big blockade to wine business in Kashmir. These authors pitch for the guess based on their observation that Kashmir has been the cultivator and furnisher of wine and people used to consume wine on large scale until muslim invasion. Also until 1947 under the realms of dogra regime, wine was being deciphered to every nook and corner. Only the majority Muslims refrained from consuming wine.
Several attempts were made to neo_vascularise the wine channels in Kashmir since 1947, but all of the infiltration bids to commercialise and metastatise the liquor were excised and cauterised by the efforts propelled by the people of Kashmir.
Liquor vends were closed in Kashmir after the Allah Tigers, a militant outfit, issued a blanket ban on its sale and consumption soon after the eruption of militancy in the valley in 90’s . This business was dissipated by the militants in 1990 as part of their campaign. Although some quantum of wine was delivered illegally with meagre percentage of people consuming. Militants shot dead the owner of liquor shop in Srinagar, the region’s summer capital, in 2004. Otherwise, attacks on liquor shops have been rare since the peace process began. The opening of wine shops and later closing them out of threat has been a continuous cycle in kashmir.
A day after historical amendment to article 370 on 5th August, Subhash Arora wrote a blog “Scrapping of Article 370 in kashmir bodes well for wine industry”, where Subhash Arora pitched that Kashmir could be favourable place for wine production owing to its magnificent climate. He further hinted that Kashmir used to be favourable destination for hop cultivation which could eventually furnish beer of high quality.
In my early school years, as I used to travel with my father, as I passed or travelled through the road, at places some things used to catch my mind, at every spot where camps were destined, I used to wonder. Dad, “What are these empty bottles clinging to the concertina wires?” To my surprise my father was replying, “Milk bottles”.
This answer never satisfied me. Unknown to this, I truly enjoyed the sight of these bottles, they looked beautiful to me, hardly knowing that these bottles host the poison in diluted form. As I grew older, with my more inquisitive nature, I unravelled the mystery behind these bottles.
Article 47 of the Constitution of India is dealing with the issue relating to imposing prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs. The said Article reads, “Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health, The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health. Hence opening up wine shops at different spots in kashmir is against the basics of Indian constitution especially when no consent is procured from people around the spots.”
Consider a person who is locked inside home from 10 months, is out of job, is in bit chaos pertaining to prevailing circumstances.
With all these risk factors, if wine is made accessible to him/her within reachable place, he/she may succumb to its usage.
The way forward would be “if there is no consumer, there is no sale and hence no saler”. This is just a low level prevention strategy when the bottle is already at your doorstep.
Author is a freelance writer, persuing B.Sc at GMC Srinagar. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org