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Hooch Deaths Expose 'Dry Bihar'

By M I KHAN
November 05, 2021 10:35 IST
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The much-hyped liquor ban in the state has been widely seen as a failed attempt five years after its introduction.

Kindly note the images has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: PTI Photo
 

In 'Dry Bihar', illicit liquor consumption claimed over 20 lives in the last 48 hours.

More than a dozen people are battling for life in different hospitals reportedly after consuming illicit liquor.

These deaths came on the occasion of Diwali being celebrated on Thursday and ahead of Chhath, the popular festival in Bihar next week, when illicit liquor consumption is reported rampant across the state.

According to officials, after consuming illicit liquor, 13 men from Gopalganj district died on Wednesday and 10 men died in West Champaran district on Thursday.

This is the fourth such incident in the last two weeks when lives have been lost after consuming illicit liquor in the state.

Last week, five men died in Muzaffarpur district after consuming illicit liquor.

Last month, four men died after consuming illicit liquor in Siwan district.

This year so far (till November 4) 93 people have died after consuming illicit liquor in the state.

Most of the victims were either landless farm labourers or small land holding peasants in rural Bihar.

'Dry Bihar' appears only on paper as liquor is easily available.

The manufacture, storage, transportation, sale and consumption of alcohol has been banned in Bihar for over five years.

In April 2016, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's then government imposed total prohibition in the state.

The most recent incidents of death by consumption of illicit liquor occurred in different villages in Gopalganj and West Champaran.

As per the reports reaching the state capital Patna, the victims were residents of Kushahr, Mohammadpur, Mangolpur, Bucheya villages in Gopalganj and Belwa village in West Champaran.

The victims reportedly consumed illicit liquor and complained of stomach pain, vomiting and restlessness soon after. Some of them fell unconscious and were admitted to different hospitals.

One after another, they died during treatment on Wednesday night and Thursday.

The police in both districts have yet to confirm the deaths due to consuming illicit liquor and described the deaths as either mysterious or suspicious. The police said they would determine the cause only after they scrutinised the post-mortem reports.

But the families of the victims claimed that they died after consuming liquor.

"My husband's condition deteriorated on Wednesday night soon after he consumed liquor along with others. When he lost consciousness on Thursday, we rushed him to hospital where they declared him dead and informed us that he died due to consuming poisonous liquor," Shail Kumari Devi, whose husband Bachcha Yadav was one of the ten victims in West Champaran, told this reporter.

The victims's families questioned Bihar's much hyped liquor ban, insisting that desi liquor is easily available in the state.

One villager in Gopalganj said prohibition is only on paper. Liquor is easily available, on demand.

"The police and other officers are minting money due to prohibition because the liquor mafia has been freely doing business by bribing them," the villager alleged.

"Liquor is available and delivered at home if one has money. The sale and consumption of liquor has increased like never before," another villager said, alleging that "The police are behind the flourishing trade of country-made liquor."

The police, on the other hand, say it seized hundreds of litres of liquor which were brought in for the ongoing panchayat elections in the state.

Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav blamed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the villagers's deaths allegedly after consuming liquor in last two days.

'Five days ago in Muzaffarpur 10 died of poisonous liquor. Yesterday and today 20 people died in Gopalganj. Today again 13 people died in Bettiah. Police are burning most of the dead bodies without a postmortem,' Tejashwi's tweets alleged.

"Isn't Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister cum Home Minister, who is responsible for these deaths, beating the unrelenting drumbeat of prohibition?" another Tejashwi tweet asked.

Nitish Kumar has time and again announced he would not spare anyone involved in the liquor trade and directed the Bihar police to take action against those found involved in the illicit liquor business.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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