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14 Oct 2019, Edition - 1553, Monday

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Coimbatore

Tipplers of Anakkatti drown Attapadi’s anti-liquor past

Ajay Kumar Menon

Thaikula Sangham, a grouping of womenfolk in the tribal areas of Attapadi, literally driving away the menace of liquor was a big movement a few decades ago.

With brooms in hand, these tribeswomen used to wait near the entrance of hamlets for their husbands and other menfolk coming home drunk. They used to be thrashed with the brooms. Slowly the menfolk became obedient and started returning home sober.

Happy days were back in homes. Around a decade ago, evenings in these hamlets were fun and frolic with children also joining. Food used to be shared and husbands were literally afraid of going out for a sip.

The genesis of this movement started with outsiders coming to grab fertile land. These settlers engaged tribespeople on these usurped farms. At the end of the day, menfolk were paid their wages, partly in cash and mostly in kind, that is liquor. Poverty came to stay in these hamlets.

The settlers also encouraged men to brew illicit liquor. The women went out hunting such brewing dens owned by the settlers and destroyed everything there. earning the wrath of the rank outsiders.

Way back in 2002, the then Chief Minister of Kerala AK Antony declared Attapadi a non-liquor zone. In 2002, the then President late APJ Abdul Kalam made the ‘Attappadi Declaration’ freeing the area of liquor and drugs. A large gathering took the solemn vow.

But the hat soon turned history. On records, Attapadi is still liquor free. Anyone wanting to drink will have to travel to as far as Mannarkad or closer to Anakkatti on Tamil Nadu. Alcoholism is back, stronger than before and according to officials connected with the now wound-up Japanese-funded Attapadi Hills Area Development Society (AHADS), a society for eco-restoration and tribal empowerment, there are five alcohol de-addiction centres in the area.

The last bus to Attapadi from Anakkatti is full of tipsy tribespeople. This explains why the Tasmac outlet there is important for authorities. A former director of AHADS told The Covai Post that it was high time a new Thaikula Sangham is recreated as it is the families there which are bearing the brunt and being pushed back to poverty.

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