Little India Riot Inquiry: Alcohol not a problem?


Former Nominated Member of Parliament Shriniwas Rai, who wrote to the Committee of Inquiry (COI) Secretariat volunteering as a witness, took the stand on Monday.

But there was a testy exchange between Mr Rai, a lawyer, and former Supreme Court judge G.P. Selvam, who is chairman of the COI.

Here is an excerpt of the exchange. Quotes have been edited for length.

Mr Selvam: So according to you, public intoxication and drunkenness is not a problem in Little India, especially on Sundays?

Mr Rai: I do not believe that drunkenness is the problem... There may be exuberance, of course, but I have never seen them (the workers) disturbing others or causing nuisance to the public at large....

Mr Selvam: I ask you a second time, the residents have come and complained - they have been complaining for a long time - that in Little India, which is not just Race Course Road, they have very serious problems arising out of drunkenness, particularly after 10pm and sometimes overnight... Have you been there after 10pm, 11pm, even overnight?

Mr Rai: No, I'm not there late.

Mr Selvam: So you are not in a position to make comment?

Mr Rai: I won't be in a position to comment on Race Course Road after 9.30pm or 10pm. I'm in no position to comment on the housing... because I don't frequent those places. It's all beyond my experience... If it's unsafe, I won't be travelling there with my wife. The fact (is) that we can walk in that area unmolested.

Mr Selvam: I ask you for a third time, Mr Rai. Are you saying that after 9pm, until say 3am or 4am the next morning, there is no drunkenness problem in Little India on Sundays?

Mr Rai: I don't think I would say there is no problem... But my own experience is confined to only on Sunday up to 9.30pm at the most.

Mr Selvam: Are you saying we must make a finding based on your observation?

Mr Rai: No sir, I am not. This exception may not be the rule of Little India.

Mr Selvam: You may be the exception to the rule.

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