Nat community in 24 villages of Gujarat cages drunkards; fines them

  • | Wednesday | 20th October, 2021

Ahmedabad, Oct 20 (PTI) A community in 24 villages of Gujarat has adopted a social experiment to combat the menace of alcoholism by caging and fining members who are caught in an inebriated state. The Nat community in the state claims that the move is paying off and is acting as a deterrent as more and more of its members are getting dissuaded from consuming liquor. The Nat community in Motipura village of Ahmedabad district had in 2019 floated the idea of setting up a makeshift cage to incarcerate people caught drunk for a night and impose a fine of Rs 1,200 on them, village sarpanch Babu Nayak said. Though Gujarat is a dry state with a strong prohibition law, the menace of liquor consumption was high in the community, and hence, the experiment was soon replicated in 24 villages that had a sizable number of members from the community, he said. "In 2017, we first decided to impose a fine of Rs 1,200 on drunkards, but the community members later realised that was not enough, so the rule of caging such people for a night was framed," Nayak said. Villagers have set up a makeshift cage where erring members have to spend a night, he said, adding that such persons are only provided a bottle of water and a container to relieve themselves. The experiment has proven to be effective, as lesser number of people are getting caught every year, Nayak said. Apart from this, instances of domestic violence have reduced and so have cases of people getting into many other vices triggered by the habit, he said. "The idea is to dissuade people from getting drunk and keep them away from legal and financial troubles that the habit causes," he said. A team keeps an eye on people and also acts on tip-offs from villagers, mostly women, who are unhappy with their male family members getting into the habit of drinking, Nayak said. The practise, which was first adopted in Motipura, has slowly spread to around 24 villages in Jamnagar, Amreli, Bhavnagar and Surendranagar districts that have a significant number of Nat community members, it was stated. Rajesh Nayak, another member of the community, said at least one man is caught every three to four months. "The fine imposed by the community is collected and spent on religious and social works. We also offer money as financial support to widows and the poor for marriage of their daughters," he said. Members of the Nat community mostly earn their living by playing musical instruments at social, political and other such events, Nayak said. Gujarat has a strong law in force to prevent the manufacture, storage, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The legislation has been in force since May 1, 1960, when Gujarat became a separate state after bifurcation from the then Bombay State. PTI KA PD ARU ARU

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