Earlier this month, over 30 people died while several others fell ill after consuming spurious liquor in the state's Gopalganj, Samastipur and Muzaffarpur.
The Bihar government had brought in a ban on liquor in the state in 2016. Since then, there has been a surge in the illicit liquor trade and around 100 people have died in the last 11 months allegedly due to hooch consumption. The opposition RJD has been cornering the Nitish Kumar government over the issue and the state government swung into action after over 40 people died in the recent hooch tragedies. Speaking with Financial Express.com, RJD spokesperson and party general secretary Chitranjan Gagan alleged that the Nitish government is running a parallel economy of illicit liquor trade.
“Only making policies doesn’t help. A clean intention is also required to implement the policy. Liquor has been a medium of funding for the NDA government even before and after the prohibition. Earlier, they used to earn by opening liquor shops and now they are earning by running illegal rackets. They have implemented a parallel economy via this. When you make a policy but your intentions are not clear, you cannot implement it. Earlier people had to go to the liquor shops and they used to be afraid of public shaming but today they even don’t need to go, it’s being home-delivered,” alleged Gagan.
He said that when the RJD and Nitish had come together (2015-2017), the liquor ban was one of the RJD’s demands. He said that it was the Nitish government that liberalised the opening of liquor shops to increase revenue. “The CM had said that he was opening liquor shops to earn revenue and to use that money to give bicycles to school girls. After his statement, many students refused to take cycles saying they wouldn’t take a bicycle purchased using money earned from liquor. When the Mahagathbandhan government was formed, the liquor ban was implemented under pressure from the RJD. As soon as he parted ways with the RJD and got into the lap of the RSS-BJP, now you can see the status of the liquor ban,” said Gagan.
Gagan claimed that when the RJD government was in power, there were only 900 liquor shops in the state but when the NDA government was formed, many new shops were opened. “The NDA government had announced a 40 per cent subsidy to those opening a bar/liquor shop along the National Highways in the state. Sushil Modi was the finance minister and used to say with pride that the revenue had increased by that much per cent and the next year’s target was so and so. They relaxed the provisions related to the opening of liquor shops near temples and educational institutions….Even then, RJD’s youth wing under Tejashwi Yadav had started a movement of ‘madiralay nahi, pustakalay chahiye, sharab nahi, kitab chahiye‘ (we don’t need bars but want library, we want books not liquor),” claimed Gagan.
The Nitish government has begun a fresh crackdown against illegal liquor mafias. The Bihar Police yesterday claimed that a total of 49,900 cases were registered during raids under the liquor ban rules between January 2021 to October 2021 while around 38,72,645 litres of liquor was seized. It said that as many as 62,140 accused were also arrested during the period, out of which 1,590 were from outside the state.
Earlier this month, over 30 people died while several others fell ill after consuming spurious liquor in the state’s Gopalganj, Samastipur, Bettiah and Muzaffarpur.