A letter to the district Collector by two school students has resulted in the shutting down of a liquor shop near their school in Tamil Nadu's Ariyalur district. The siblings now have appealed to the Chief Minister MK Stalin to shut down all liquor shops in the state.
In their letter, the siblings - E M Ilanthendral and Arivarasan - studying in Classes 6 and Class 4 cited nuisance and child safety as they requested the Collector to get the shop removed from the area before physical classes reopen for the primary section in November.
Speaking to NDTV, Ilanthendral said "They drink there, sit there and use vulgar language. It is so scary for us. Because of liquor, many parents send children to work and let them beg. If we shut all liquor shops there would be no such problem."
The Madras High Court had in 2015 ruled that no liquor should be present within 100 metres of a school but the order has often been violated. Though the liquor shop in question is outside the 100 metre distance, the Collector decided to get it relocated following the children's appeal. The request also led to the intervention of the Chief Secretary, who directed the liquor shop be shifted from the area.
"Though the shop is 100 metres away from the school, we passed the order to shut the shop and shift it to an alternate location since the children have represented the school," P Ramana Saraswathi, Ariyalur Collector, told NDTV.
The children, whose parents run a book shop, have been praised across Tamil Nadu for their effort.
Pranitha Timothy, a social worker in Chennai said, "They are our leaders. They show us what it means to take responsibility and courage to bring about change in our community".
The children's pro-active initiative and the government response have given a new level of confidence to many school students and this many hope could lead to shutting down of many more liquor shops that vitiate the atmosphere near schools.