Stir against liquor outlets in holy town Barsana

Holy men, spiritual leaders and social activists here have joined hands to protest against liquor outlets in this holy town ahead of the Holi revelries.

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 24, 2015, 13:23 PM IST

Barsana: Holy men, spiritual leaders and social activists here have joined hands to protest against liquor outlets in this holy town ahead of the Holi revelries.

They have constituted an 11-member committee which will present a memorandum to the district magistrate of Mathura Tuesday.

The move comes after the district magistrate said it was too late to do anything in this regard.

"It is too late now. They should have objected in January... They should wait as the state government alone can cancel the decision (to let liquor outlets function). So far no one has met me. I will, however, discuss and resolve the issue," District Magistrate Rajesh Kumar told IANS.

But priests and social activists are adamant and have demanded immediate action to shut the liquor vends in the Radha Nagri Barsana.

The group has threatened to boycott the Lathmar Holi Friday in which women as gopis hit male gopis (brajbasis) with batons, who shield their heads with leather mounted headgear. The event attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the country.

Barsana is a holy town and the feelings of lakhs of pilgrims are hurt when they see liquor shops close to girls schools and temples, said a local priest Hari Narain.

"Every evening the drunkards crowd around these outlets and create an ugly scene, shouting and abusing," activist Mohan Yadav said.

The local unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party and lawyers have also supported the movement.

The Goswami Samaj has threatened that if the administration fails to shut the liquor vends, they would rethink whether women should be allowed to participate in the famous Lathmar Holi for which thousands of pilgrims from all parts of the country and NRIs reach Barsana.

Holy towns like Barsana should be liquor free, a mahapanchayat held Sunday demanded.

On Monday, sants and villagers announced another mahapanchayat on Tuesday, demanding a liquor-free Barsana.

The Barsana police station in-charge, however, said he had no knowledge of any such stir even though Barsana's patriarch sant Ramesh Baba has assured full support to the movement.

Meanwhile, authorities have stepped up security arrangements. Senior district officials Surendra Pal Singh and Atul Kumar Srivastav have drawn up elaborate security and traffic movement plan for the occasion when more than a lakh pilgrims are expected to witness the celebrations.

Trained divers will keep a vigil at the Gahvar Kund, Priya Kund and Vrishubhan Kund. The areas have been barricaded.

Srivastav said revellers will have to maintain dignity and that policemen in plain clothes will keep a watch on eve teasers.

The state roadways will add 65 buses to its fleet to ferry pilgrims from Barsana and Nandgaon. Eight teams of health workers and doctors will be at the spot.