Opposition attacked the government, saying prohibition law was being used to target Dalits.
Bharatiya Janata Party Gaya MP Hari Manjhi's son and his friend have been sent to jail for allegedly consuming alcohol, a charge denied by the ruling party lawmaker, even as Opposition attacked the government, saying prohibition law was being used to target Dalits.
MP's son Rahul Kumar Manjhi and one of his friend were caught allegedly consuming alcohol in Nama village under the Gaya Medical College police station area on Sunday, Station House Officer Lal Bihari Paswan said.
They were produced in a city court and sent to the Gaya Central Jail under judicial custody on Monday.
Under the spell of a stringent anti-liquor law for over last two years, Bihar has been declared a dry state with stringent punishment for the breach of anti-liquor law.
The incident is particularly embarrassing for the ruling National Democratic Alliance in Bihar as the BJP is a coalition partner of the Janata Dal-United in the state government.
The Gaya MP has accused the police of 'falsely implicating' his son in the liquor case.
"I had informed the deputy inspector general of police of Magadh Range (Vinay Kumar) about illegal liquor trade in and around Nama village with the help of police...the police, instead of acting on my information, falsely implicated my son," said Manjhi, a second-term BJP Lok Sabha member from Gaya (reserved) seat, told PTI.
Within hours of sending the BJP MP's son to jail for allegedly consuming liquor, former Bihar chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (S) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi on Monday said that the prohibition law has become a 'tool to send poor people to jail'.
"The prohibition law has become a tool to send poor people to the jail," Jitan Ram Manjhi told reporters at Gaya.
"Police and officials of the concerned department are making money in the garb of the prohibition law," the HAM chief, who recently walked out of the NDA to side with Lalu Prasad Yadav, alleged.
Rashtriya Janata Dal vice president Shivanand Tiwari said, "The son of the MP caught under the liquor law hails from 'mushar' (a Dalit) caste...if it would have been the son of a 'dabang jati' (dominant caste) had the same happened? Seeing the nature of our society this question arises."
"There is a drama going on in the name of prohibition in the state. There is no ban at all which is evident from the fact that people are using and consuming liquor openly without the fear of prohibition law," senior Bihar RJD leader and MLA Bhai Virendra told PTI in Patna.
Ruling JD-U MLC and spokesperson Niraj Kumar, however, said, "Prohibition law is effectively working in the state which is evident from the fact that no one is being spared, howsoever, high he/she may be. Even the son of MP has been arrested for violating the law. This shows that prohibition law is effectively working in the state."
Reacting to senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwary's statement that Rahul Manjhi has been arrested because of being a Dalit, Kumar said the law is not applied as per the caste or creed of its violaters, it is applicable to everyone who violates it.
Bihar has been under total prohibition since April 5, 2016.
Reports say as Bihar completed two years of ban on country liquor on April 5 last, over 1.15 lakh people have been arrested for violating the liquor ban.
Over 23 lakh litres of IMFL (Indian made Foreign liquor) and country liquor has been seized so far.
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