The Asian Age, New Delhi
July 6, 1998

Sadhus, Maulanas, Bishops for total liquor ban
By Elisa Patnaik

New Delhi: Bishops, maulanas, swamis, sadhvis and other religious leaders of the country on Sunday stood united on one issue at least - that liquor is the root cause of all evil in the country.

Participating in a historic national conference on total prohibition in the capital, the first of its kind, religious leaders occupying the centrestage were unanimous in their rhetoric against alcohol.

"Sharab har buraiyee ka jad hota hai" (Liquor is the root cause of all evil), said Maulana Wahi Du Din Khan. Stating that consuming liquor was one of the greatest crimes in Islam, the maulana said that every religion condemns the consumption of liquor.

And Jain acharya Dr. Sadhvi Sadhana, did not fail to disagree. "None of the dharam granths (religious texts) advocate the consumption of liquor and all efforts should be made to combat this evil," she said.

"The religious leaders have came together perhaps for the first time in the history of independent India to deliberate on a vital issue of social change," said Swami Agnivesh, Arya Samaj leader and convener of the convention. He said that this was decided at a conference of religious leaders on the occasion of Mahakumbha mela in Haridwar in April, where the action of the Andhra Pradesh and Haryana governments to lift prohibition in their states was termed a "betrayal" of the people's mandate. Religious leaders will now work for total prohibition In the country at the Haridwar Conclave, he said.

From the sadhvis of Uttarakhand to the sanths of Hrishikesh and Madhya Pradesh, the event was conspicuous by the presence of a large number of Hindu religious leaders. And they, along with leaders of other faiths did express their angst against liquor, and condemned all political parties without sparing any. Beneath the huge banners of "sharab hatao, desh bachao (Remove liquor, save the country)" the sleepy-eyed sadhus listened to the leaders tirade as they promised to start the Nashabandi Abhyan (Movement for total Prohibition) in full swing.

"For the first time in independent India a stage has been set to start a movement to eradicate one of the greatest social evils of the country," said Bishop Karam Mash of the church of North India. And the organisers did make a special mention of his presence, not forgetting to declare that Christians of the country are as serious about the harmful effects of liquor as other religions.

"The Bishop by attending the conference has proved all the allegations made against the Churches and Christians wrong," said Swami Agnivesh. "As a first move the demand of the movement should be to ban all the drinking scenes in the movies which people usually emulate," said Jaswant Singh, " The skull and bones sign, indication of danger or poison should also be used on liquor bottles to warn people against it," he added.

"Religious leaders are fighting on anything and everything but they are certainly unanimous in their fight against liquor," said Swami Agnivesh. Revealing that about Rs 90,000 crores worth of liquor is consumed in India every year, he said, "we will try to end the menace with the help of the people and Lok Shakti instead of politicians".

Religious and other leaders like Jagadguru Shankracharya Madhyasharmji (Jyoti Peeth), Mahant Glan Dev Singh Ji, Swami Inderveshji, and Dr. Maheep Singh participated in the conference organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Santh Samiti.



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