Aizawl: Mizoram opposition Congress on Tuesday demanded the resignation of state excise and narcotics minister Dr K. Beichhua over the death of a woman vendor, who suffered depression after she had allegedly lost her livelihood since the government seized substantial quantities of locally processed bottled grape wines from her shop.
A statement issued by Congress said that officials of the excise and narcotics department raided some shops at Millennium Centre, the state’s largest shopping mall located at the heart of Aizawl city and seized huge quantities of grape wine bottles on May 27.
Among such owners was 52-year-old widow named Lalhriatpuii, who ran a shop as her main source of income, the statement said. It said that substantial quantities of bottled grape wine worth around Rs 22 lakh were seized from her shop.
Congress alleged that the victim suffered a depression-like mental breakdown after the seizure leading to her death.
Accusing the minister of being responsible for the woman’s demise, the party asked him to step down as minister on moral grounds.
It also asked the government to give an ex-gratia to the tune of Rs 1 crore to the relatives of the woman by Wednesday and warned of stringent measures if it fails to give the ex-gratia.
Beichhua and other officials of the excise and narcotics department could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
Meanwhile, a close relative of Lalhriatpuii said that they were not sure about her death being linked to the seizure of grape wines.
He said that the woman had already undergone surgery due to thyroid in the past for which she used to develop medical problems occasionally.
She, however, experienced stress and anxiety soon after the seizure of grape wine from her shop, he said.
She had also suffered from insomnia after the incident, he said.
“We can’t directly link her death to the recent incident. The almighty has set a timeframe for every individual’s life span and we believe that it was God’s will to take her away from us,” the relative, who refused to be named, said.
One of Lalhriatpuii’s young sisters said that her elder sister had recently accompanied her friends on a recreational tour to a south Asian country. After returning from abroad, she suddenly suffered a stroke while holding at Guwahati and was immediately rushed to a hospital there, she said.
The woman succumbed to her illness while being brought to Aizawl on Monday, she said.
The seizure of locally made grape wines by government officials in May had sparked outrage in the state with a grape growers’ society threatening the government to launch an agitation. The society had also demanded the seized grape wines be returned immediately to the vendors in full quantities.
Beichhua had earlier said that the excise officials had to seize the locally processed grape wine bottles as they were found among illicit alcohol. He had said that apart from branded or locally brewed liquor, grape wine or any liquid containing alcohol is prohibited under the Mizo Liquor Prohibition Act, 2019.
Mizoram has implemented the total prohibition law since May 2019, which prohibits the import, export, transport, manufacture, possession, sale and consumption of alcohol and any liquid containing alcohol in the state barring three autonomous district councils in the southern part of the state.
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