As darkness falls, public toilet close to police booth turns into hooch den

KOLKATA, 15 DEC: Believe it or not, a public toilet in a park close to the Sovabazar-Sutanuti Metro station and bang opposite a police booth turns into a liquor den after 10 p.m.
There are several places across the stretch of the circular railway tracks from Ahiritolla and Sovabazar where hooch is manufactured at night. While a large number of people consume hooch there at night, small barrels full of the illicit liquor are sent to various distribution centres and to the red light area of Sonagachi. The Sulabh Complex at Narendra Deb Park in Sovabazar is one such refilling and distribution centre of hooch and country liquor after all the licensed shops are shut past 9 p.m.
The gates of the park are secured with chains late in the evening leaving a gap for one person to enter at a time. It may be noted that the entire stretch of the pavement from Sovabazar to Girish Park, especially the lane leading to the park, is full of street dwellers.
Some of these people are involved in procuring illicit liquor from the manufacturing dens while some others are engaged in getting pots of country liquor from licensed shops. Several of these people are rag-pickers and they sell the empty pots of various sizes to the people running the racket.
From 9 p.m. onwards, country liquor is mixed with water from the toilet in the Sulabh Complex and then filled into bottles to be sold elsewhere. Also, hooch manufactured near the railway tracks is refilled in the bottles and sent out to be sold. The bottles are carried in and taken out of the Sulabh Complex and the park in jute or plastic bags and yet the officers manning the police booth bang opposite the entrance to the park are unaware of it. Not only distribution, the bottles are also sold directly to some select customers. All these activities are carried out in the gents’ section of the complex while at night the ladies section is opened for both men and women. This reporter had gone to use the toilet at 10.15 last night and got to know of the state of affairs after a man dropped a bag full of bottles in the gent’s section.
Mr Bimal Mohan Jha, chairman of the city wing of Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, said that the area is infamous for such activities and he would immediately inquire into the matter. He said that the complex would soon be taken over by the municipality and renovated. An officer of the Shyampukur police station said that people selling liquor illegally after the licensed shops are closed are nabbed from the area regularly and several spots are raided, but he claimed ignorance of a liquor distribution centre operating in a public toilet.

Drunk V-B students suspended
SANTINIKETAN, 15 DEC: Two students of Visva-Bharati were suspended for an indefinite period after they were found in an inebriated condition inside Vidyabhavan boys’ hostel on Monday night. The duo were allegedly creating nuisance in the hostel after consuming liquor. After being informed of the incident, V-B security officials rushed to the spot and caught the duo. After the medical report came, the authorities decided to suspend the students.
According to reports, Avinandan Subba, a student of MA final year in Journalism and Mass Communication, and Keshav Pradhan, a student of BA second year in Ancient History, went to Vidyabhavan boys’ hostel on Monday night. They continued to disturb and allegedly manhandled other students after being intoxicated. Later, V-B officials, including the security officer, Mr Suprio Ganguly, went to the spot and the students were sent for a medical test. Today, the report came to the authorities and the students were suspended. “The students were creating nuisance on the campus. We have decided to suspend them for an indefinite period. A disciplinary committee will look into the matter,” said Mr Mani Mukut Mitra, registrar, V-B.

Soma Basu

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