Jaffna drive against ‘kassipu’ trade

[TamilNet, Sunday, 02 June 2002, 11:36 GMT]
A new drive by local residents to stamp out the illicit liquor trade is underway in Urumpirai, Urelu and Karanthan areas of Jaffna with the support of the police, participants said last week. Meanwhile, in a statement released in Trincomalee, the Liberation Tigers banned the production and sale of illicit liquor, press reports said last week.

Citizen volunteers, including members of the Urumpirai community centre, recovered 40 litres of illicit liquor as well as brewing equipment in a new drive against the local ‘kassipu‘ trade.

Four suspected brewers were also arrested. One of them was said to have been fined by the court on many occasions for the crime, the Uthayan newspaper said. The brewer was, however, promptly released again after being fined.

Tamil Excise officers in Jaffna have in the past accused the government of deliberately ignoring or even encouraging the local trade in illegal alcohol.

“The Sri Lankan government sends liquor to Jaffna more regularly than school text books. The government says there is no room in the ships to send textbooks to Jaffna. However, it sends a very large quantity of liquor to peninsula. This is being done with the clear aim of destroying our society", V. Sothinathan, an officer of the government's Excise Department in Jaffna, told a conference last May at the Jaffna University.

"There was discipline in our society before 1995. It is not the case anymore. It is understood that prostitution and the brewing of illicit liquor is encouraged by the Sri Lanka army in several parts of Jaffna. We cannot allow this to destroy our culture. We should do the needful by controlling illicit liquor to make our society decent", he said.

Jaffna community organisations say the lack of income-generation activities and resultant unemployment or underemployment in the northern peninsula are partly to blame for rise of such illegal industries.

The Thinakkural newspaper reported last week that the LTTE’s Political Section office in Trincomalee has issued a statement stating, "the illegal brewing and sale of liquor will be banned completely from 01 June 2002. We urge all to desist from producing or selling this potential killer. Those who breach this order will be identified and punished severely".

According to a study on the illicit drinking across Sri Lanka by Dr. Ranil Abeysinghe, Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine, Peradeniya, ‘kasippu’ drinkers outnumber licit drinkers by almost 20 to 1.


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