Undeterred by the threat of coronavirus infection or the 'special corona fee' of 70 per cent levied on alcohol, hundreds of tipplers queued up outside liquor vends in the national capital for the second consecutive day on Tuesday, keeping the police on their toes.
Long queues were witnessed outside the vends in Krishna Nagar and Vishwas Nagar, and a large number of policemen stood outside to manage the crowd and ensure social distancing.
In Vishwas Nagar, police personnel wielding sticks tried to bring order to a long snaking queue of eager buyers, closely packed together as they shoved and shuffled their way to the shop.
Similar scenes were seen in Jheel Khurenja and Kalyanpuri.
In some places, restless crowds hovered around the liquor shops and had to be chased away and dispersed.
For instance, at Gole Market in central Delhi, although the liquor shops were shut, baton-wielding paramilitary personnel were also deployed to keep the crowd at bay.
About 150 government-run liquor shops have been allowed to open from 9 am to 6.30 pm as per the latest lockdown relaxations allowed by the ministry of home affairs.
On Monday, many liquor shops downed their shutters after crowds turned unruly, showing little care about social distancing. Late in the night, the Delhi government levied a 70 per cent 'special corona fee' on the sale of liquor. The new rate is applicable from Tuesday.
The special branch of the Delhi police has also prepared a report suggesting extending the timings of the liquor sale in Delhi after chaos outside shops on Monday.
A notice was issued to a liquor shop in Vasant Vihar after the crowd gathered outside did not follow social distancing on Monday. In another case, a liquor shop was asked to shut down after the SDM found crowd outside the alcohol vend.
To ensure that he gets his stock of liquor, Bharat Kumar, a resident of Burari, stood outside the liquor shop since 8 am -- the shop opens at 9. But there were many even ahead of him.
"I was in queue since 8 am. Despite this, it took me one and half hour to buy three liquor bottles," he said.
Asked about the government's decision to impose a hefty 'corona fee' to discourage tipplers, he said, "It will not affect us. People will get liquor from Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad."
Ayush, who works in a private company was waiting near him to buy his booze. He said he was not a regular drinker and the price did not really matter.
"Everything is costly during lockdown. Prices of food items are more than usual. The hike is exorbitant but still I am here to buy because it has been more than a month since I had a drink," he said nonchalantly.
"It's not the cost. It's the availability that matters right now. See the crowd even though the shop has not opened yet," said Prateek Singh, a student, pointing to the crowds outside a liquor shop in east Delhi's Shakarpur locality early in the morning.
But there were many who still could not manage to buy liquor for the second day.
"I searched for some shops in Krishna Nagar but there were long queues of around 400-500 people. Here, the shop has not been opened and policemen are sending us back. It's not fair, the government has raised the price so much and still there are problems if one tries to buy it," said Raj Kumar, 38, who had come to a liquor shop in Shakarpur in east Delhi.
Ramesh, who declined to share his second name, said he was trying his luck after failing to buy liquor bottles from nearby shops because of the huge crowd.
"Yesterday, I waited for two hours in a queue outside a shop but the police closed it after the crowd became unruly," Ramesh said.
Rajbir Singh, in his late 40s, tried his luck at a liquor vend behind Regal Cinema in central Delhi, but failed. He had come with his friend on a two-wheeler from
"I only have one peg every fortnight. But I have not had even that for long," Singh said.