VALPOI: Leaving aside their differences over the Mhadei water dispute, people from Karnataka’s border villages, especially Kankumbi and Parod, on Sunday joined hands with their brethren of Surla and adjacent areas, seeking a permanent closure of all eight bars at Surla in Sattari taluka.
The villagers stood their ground over the permanent closure of the eight bars at a public meeting, resolving to block the main road of the village if any bar reopens on August 21.
Around 400 villagers attending the meeting gave an ultimatum to the government asking it not to allow reopening of any of these eight bars which have been shut down for a month by the government.
The bars have been shut down to curb the menace, annoyance and public nuisance caused by tourists and people from Karnataka. Addressing the people gathered at the village temple, Pandurang Gaonkar, a villager, said, “The bar owners are claiming that their bars are likely to reopen on August 21… if it happens then we all will lock our houses and sit on the main road along with our children until our demand is met.”
The meeting agreed to the Gaonkar’s suggestion on blocking the main road of the village.
Earlier, people from Surla and nearby villages took out a morcha chanting slogans against the bars.
The meeting, which was held under the banner of ‘Surla Nagrik Kruti Samiti’, was also attended by people from border villages of Karnataka.
The Karnataka villagers extended their support to the agitation of Surla villagers.
Many women from Karnataka attending the meeting said that they are also in favour of the permanent closure of the Surla bars, as they are suffering because the liquor smuggled from Surla into Karnataka is ruining their families.
“I lost my husband to liquor consumption. The liquor was smuggled from this village… I extend my support to Surla villagers’ movement,” said a widow from Betne, Karnataka, who had come all the way to show her support.
Poonam Gaonkar said that many men lost their lives on account of boozing, alleging that the bar owners are making false claims after the villagers upped the ante against the bars.
Villagers of Kankumbi and Parod, Karnataka, claimed that liquor is illegally sold in their villages in Karnataka after the temporary ban kicked in Surla.
Extending his support to the agitation, local panch member Suryakant Gaonkar pressed for the permanent closure of the bars: the temporary ban has put an end to the public nuisance in the village.
Santosh Gaonkar said that villagers will continue their agitation until the bars are closed permanently.
SNKS president Ganu Gaonkar also spoke at the meeting.