Jammu, January 1: Most people living in Jammu city have no idea what or where Phallain Mandal is. Mandal in the name literally translates to a group and Phallain Mandal is a group of some 50-odd villages on the banks of river Tawi. If you wish to reach the place, you can take a left from the fourth bridge, instead of taking a right for Bhagwati Nagar.
After covering some distance after Sure Chak, you would cross Phallain to reach Phallain Colony where for the last 9 days, men and women have been protesting to get a wine shop closed in their area. At first instance, a single wine shop may not seem entirely problematic in a single area, but Phallain Mandal is a vastly disconnected area where a single wine shop has become a menace difficult to handle.
Phallain Colony is constituted of around 150 houses where ninety percent of the men and teenaged boys have taken to alcohol, all thanks to one wine shop, which in all probability is unlicensed. The shop does not display a license registration number as is required by all shops and was ordered to be closed down five years ago by the then Deputy Commissioner of Jammu. Around that time itself, there were protests locally and the order to close down the shop was the direct outcome.
The wine shop, owned by a person, allegedly from Nanak Nagar in Jammu, is operated by locally employed people who work with no moral obligations. People from all the surrounding fifty villages in Phallain Mandal come to this wine shop in Phallain Colony and as can be expected, this spot is busier than the busy market spots in Gandhi Nagar Jammu.
“The men come from all the surrounding villages and are not scared or ashamed of anyone here. It becomes difficult for us women to even come out of our houses in the evenings as we fear molestation everyday. The men from the surrounding villages gather even more courage from this and many a time unzip right in front of us to urinate.”
She further bemoaned, “Where are we to go? The administration had issued orders to shut down this shop 5-years ago but it is open and we feel this man bribes those in the government to keep his shop. Drunk Men urinate shamelessly looking in our direction. We feel helpless!”
The crowding and these heinous acts by the men is not the only problem here. All the residents of Phallain colony generally agree that ninety percent of the men, including teenaged boys are steadily turning into alcoholics. Almost all the families, says Colonel Somnath Dogra who is a social worker living in the area, are of labourers who work in the farming fields or at construction sites.
“The men, are the sole bread earners and make upto but not more than Rs. 300 per day. Most times, these men drink daily and spend Rs. 200 on the liquor and the chicken shop and it is very difficult to support a family with a meagre Rs. 100,” said Colonel Dogra.
He further added, “Every single day there is a case of domestic violence and inebriated men are out of their senses when they commit such crimes. This has been going for years now and this is why the residents are demanding that the shop be shut down.”
U4UVoice spoke to some more protesting women and the Panch, Sushma showed us to a house where a pale, fragile structure of a woman was put on a bed.
“You see this woman! Her husband was an alcoholic and he lost his life to that shop. She has alone brought up her children and cleans utensils in the houses nearby. The village has lost three men to that shop including her husband and nothing is being done to stop this nuisance. Today this woman’s sons are eighteen and twenty and they go work as labourers themselves. Even her sons are addicted to liquor!”
Sushma further told us that the nuisance of liquor addiction has spread in the younger generation in the village.