From a Correspondent
JORHAT, September 23: Whereas on one hand the Jorhat police is on a crusade against illegal liquor in the district, the Excise department in connivance with the Jorhat district administration is allegedly on a drive to provide legal license to open wine bars that too in front of religious places, thus undermining the sentiments of the devotees who throng the temple.
One such allegation has been leveled against Chill Park Wine Bar situated in the JB Road by the Jorhat Puja Mandir Committee, accusing the Jorhat district administration, especially Deputy Commissioner (DC) Solanki Vishal Vasant of ‘misusing’ government powers while facilitating the grant of IMFL ‘ON’ license at Chill Park restaurant.
Addressing media persons in a press meet held at the Puja Mandir Committee office on Tuesday, the president, secretary and legal representative advocate Rintu Goswami said, “It is with great regret that we have to say that the Excise Department of the Assam Government after having received a proposal sent by the Excise Branch of Jorhat signed by DC Solanki Vasant has granted IMFL “ON” license to the owner of Chill Park Restaurant, Radha Sensowa for retail vending of foreign liquor in the Chill Park Wine Bar vide sanctioned letter no EX.116/2014/68 dated 27/05/2015 & C.E, Assam vide sanctioned letter no lll-29/2014-15/37 dated 01/08/2014 despite stiff opposition from the Jorhat Town Puja Committee and appeal to the DC to reconsider the proposal keeping in view the close proximity of the Mandir. A letter of appeal apprising the DC about the Committee’s decision was sent on 09/07/2014.”
The legal counsel further said, “It was only through an RTI that we came to know that the former JMB (Jorhat Municipal Board) chairman Prasanta Bora on 08/04/2014 had already provided an NOC for the Chill Park wine bar and we requested the present chairman of JMB not to issue trade license. It is in this connection that the JMB has till date not issued any trade license but the bar is still functioning without JMB license and this has raised eyebrows of many conscious citizens. Whereas in the letter signed by the DC Jorhat and addressed to the Joint Secretary of the Excise department, Government of Assam, vide letter no J.E.X47/2014/15 dated 6 May, 2015 it is mentioned that though the Jorhat Puja Committee had initially opposed the move to provide license to Chill Park but later on the president and the secretary of the Puja Committee including many other organizations had issued an NOC for issuance of the license and that the bar was situated at more than 100 meters from the Mandir, whereas a layman can easily identify that the distance is less than 100 meters. We doubt the measurement method and believe a large-scale corruption and monetary exchange between all hands alone made the bar become operatiol.”
The Jorhat Puja Committee has through the press meet threatened to take matters to a legal conclusion and initiate proceedings against all those who were a party in the issue of the license if the Jorhat district administration failed to act on time to cancel the license. Also, through RTI, it has additiolly been found that one bin Sarma who was not a desigted member of the Jorhat Puja Committee but a temporary member of the 100 year Puja celebration committee, had on a piece of plain paper issued an NOC for the aforesaid wine bar. Sources said that bin Sarma has no connection with the standing committee of the Jorhat Puja Mandir Committee but was only associated with the celebration programme and therefore an NOC from person like bin Sarma should not have been considered by the present DC Solanki Vishal Vasant.