In Punjab, Row Over Order On Liquor Announcement By Religious Places

Akali Dal spokesperson Daljeet Singh Cheema said the government should immediately withdraw the order and initiate investigation against the officials responsible.

In Punjab, Row Over Order On Liquor Announcement By Religious Places

Punjab had decided to home deliver liquor after observing chaotic scenes outside liquor vends. (File)

An order of the local administration in Punjab's Muktsar -- asking religious places to announce home delivery of liquor on their loudspeakers -- set off a huge row today as the opposition Akali Dal termed it "sacrilege". In the evening, the administration said it was an "inadvertent error" which was rectified.

Referring to the orders issued by the deputy commissioner of Muktsar district, Akali Dal spokesperson Daljeet Singh Cheema said the government should immediately withdraw the order and initiate investigation against the officials responsible.

"Muktsar Sahib is a revered site in Sikh history," said Mr Cheema. The administration's order is a mark of the government's desperation for revenue, he added.

In the evening, Muktsar deputy commissioner Aravind Kumar apologized for the mistake. "We passed an order where it was inadvertently mentioned that the information be spread on loudspeakers of the village gurudwaras. A corrected order was issued," he said.

The Punjab government had decided to home deliver liquor -- a huge source of revenue -- after observing the chaotic scenes outside liquor vends as they opened in Delhi, Bengal and Mumbai. The service will be available in the lockdown period and the liquor will be rationed.

Only two litres will be available per house, the government has said.

The sale and home delivery of liquor will begin on Thursday, the state's excise and taxation department has said in an order. Liquor stores will be allowed to open only during curfew relaxation hours -- 9 am to 1 pm, officials said.

The timing of the delivery will be decided by the respective assistant excise and taxation commissioners in consultation with deputy commissioners, the order read.