Drunks go to ‘jail’ for 7 hours

http://www.telegraphindia.com

VIVEK CHHETRI


Members of the Nari Morcha’s 2nd Mile local committee stand in front of the ‘jail’ alongside Peshok Road, 12km from Darjeeling town. Picture by Suman Tamang

2nd Mile (Darjeeling), July 1: The rough wooden structure with a chair placed inside along the busy Peshok Road, connecting Darjeeling to Kalimpong, appears to have cured a whole bunch of men of their fondness for liquor in just three months.

The structure, dubbed “the jail” by the women of the locality, has a simple function. Any individual found drunk and loitering in the village, located 12km from Darjeeling town, is confined to the 5ft by 4ft cubicle for seven hours. They are also made to pay a fine of Rs 500 for the “offence”.

The “jail”, which has been endorsed by the Gorkha Janmukti Nari Morcha, was built on March 10 this year.

“We decided to construct this jail after holding a meeting with the villagers. We also issued a warning to all the people to refrain from drinking both for our political cause and for the wellbeing of the society. So far we have jailed about 15-20 men and it has worked wonders,” said Srijana Tamang, the 2nd Mile local committee president of the Nari Morcha, the women’s wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

Every detail of the “punishment” has been thought out in detail. “People get drunk mostly in the evenings. However, we do not take them to the jail immediately. They are confined from 8 in the morning and the women take turn to guard the cell and also escort them out if they need to answer nature’s call,” said Tamang.

The success of the plan is based on the psychological blow it delivers. “I was arrested once and felt really bad when inquisitive people travelling along the busy road kept peeping at me. I have completely stopped drinking now,” said Nima Tamang, a 31-year-old unemployed man.

Initially, there had been some resistance. “But later, all the families agreed to this mode of punishment,” said Tamang.

The Nari Morcha leaders maintain that the idea struck them when they saw drunks taking part in protests and strikes organised over the Gorkhaland demand.

“We are now very happy. The ambience of the village has improved. People have even stopped drinking inside their homes. We need discipline in our movement for Gorkhaland and this is a novel way (to ensure that),” said B.L. Pradhan, a retired armyman, who said he has never indulged in any form of intoxicants.

The Nari Morcha has also requested the “three-four” houses in the locality that used to make local brew to stop doing so. “These people have agreed. In fact, the jail has had such an effect that even people form other villagers do not pass by it when they are drunk,” said Pradhan.

Binay Tamang, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha, however, said he had no knowledge of the “jail” and added that it might be a local initiative.

9 thoughts on “Drunks go to ‘jail’ for 7 hours

  1. On the whole, this is quite hilarious but much needed to our gorkha community. Booze has already cost us a lot and in a way, I am happy for those who have decided to stop drinking. Commendable approach!

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  2. Obviously quite unconventional but I suppose a pretty effective approach.. 🙂

    The collective approach of the women folk of the locality was enough to even get the ‘brewers’ to stop production.

    There’s a lesson there that I’m sure can be emulated by other communities as well.

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  3. prabin moktan

    most ‘projects’ like these are started with honorable intentions but they soon degenerate into a farce or worse still a vindictive tool to settle personal scores…but here is hoping that the ladies sustain the initiative for a sufficient length of time for it to have any reasonable impact in the society…and lastly most men folk drink for want of anything meaningful to do in the evenings..even that has to be adressed

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  4. Carloz

    Seems to be effective..Yes.. Knowing the mentality of some chps.., One only hopes that a group of Drunks dont come & burn down the “wooden Jail!!

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  5. one drunk will normally be a sheepish drunk…

    a group of drunks can be belligerent drunks though…

    So if a group of drunks do hatch a plan for burning down the makeshift jail, i only hope that the single sheepish drunk isn’t sleeping away his liquor inside the jail..

    @prabin
    I thought the advent and the ubiquitousness of TV would have taken care of this ‘nothing to do in the evenings problem’. It seems that the draw of the rakshi is more powerful then the draw of the idiot box.

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  6. JJ Tamang

    It is the duty of a police officer to arrest anyone who violates a law. Only a judge can put a person to jail. A civilian cannot legally arrest a person drunk or otherwise and commit to a jail. It is illegal and a drunk can sue the person(s) in the court.

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  7. @prabin
    Ah.. we might be opening up a can of worms with that… Does the Nari Morcha need rescuing from the serials?
    Of course TV addiction is nowhere as bad as alcohol dependency, so the question is just academic.

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  8. @ JJ Tamang
    What you say is technically (and ideally) true.

    However, when ground realities come into play, things seem to work differently…

    After all it is the voice of the people.. (or half the people) that is important.. And as long as it is within “reasonable” limits, then I think this course of action is fine. Alcohol consumption and dependency has long been a very debilitating social ill in our society, and not much has been done to address it. Maybe this is the way to do it..

    Sometimes a community knows best how to solve a certain problem.. Given the smallness of the community, it makes sense that an internal solution would work better.

    The goal is to shame the individuals into controlling their alcohol dependency.. if the individuals do go to sue the women, i personally think the women would have had the additional victory of having attained a high amount of publicity for their adopted process.

    So as long as the fair enforcers do not go overboard, i feel this is acceptable in these smaller communities.

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