Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath ordered on Wednesday a ban on liquor shops in Hindu and Islamic religious places such as Vrindavan, Ayodhya, Chitrakoot, Deoband, Dewa Sharif, Misrikh-Naimisharanya, and Piran Kaliyar Sharif in the state.
He directed officers of the excise department to prohibit the sale of liquor with a kilometre of Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura and the Sangam area in Allahabad.
The 44-year-old monk-politician said 8,544 liquor outlets operating in residential areas, religious spots or near educational institutions should be removed in compliance with a Supreme Court order.
“Strict action will be initiated against officials in case total prohibition was not imposed around religious places and officials responsible will be punished,” he warned officials at the meeting.
According to an excise official, the ban was imposed as these places are visited by pilgrims throughout the year.
Ayodhya and Chitrakoot are associated with Hindu god Ram, while Vrindavan is revered place for Krishna devotees. Misrikh-Naimisharanya in Sitapur district is another important pilgrimage centre for Hindus.
Deoband is the seat of leading Islamic seminary Darul-Uloom. Dewa Sharif has the mausoleum of Sufi saint Waris Ali Shah, while Piran Kaliyar Sharif on the UP-Uttarakhand border has the dargah of another Sufi saint, Alauddin Ali Ahmed Sabir Kaliyar. The mausoleums are visited by Muslims and Hindus alike.
The chief minister, who is the head priest of Gorakhpur’s Gorakhnath Math, said honest officers would be posted at sensitive positions in the excise department. He asked for a list of such officers.
Also, he ordered a crackdown on bootleggers.