Bihar CM reviews prohibition law amid reports of rodents guzzling liquor seized by cops | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Bihar CM reviews prohibition law amid reports of rodents guzzling liquor seized by cops

The anti-prohibition drive in Bihar is losing steam. Of the 48,000 arrests under the prohibition law since it came into existence on April 1, 2016, only 3,000 are now in jail, prompting chief minister Nitish Kumar to review it.

india Updated: May 10, 2017 15:13 IST
Arun Kumar
A roller crushes liquor bottles.
A roller crushes liquor bottles. (REUTERS file photo)

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar goes back to the drawing board on Wednesday evening in an effort to plug gaps in the state’s prohibition law.

The law has, of late, come under strident opposition attack amid unconfirmed reports that rodents guzzled 9 lakh litres of the 16 lakh litres alcohol, which the government had seized and kept at police stations. Though the police have dismissed the allegation, the denial has not done enough to change public perception that the government is floundering in the enforcement of prohibition law.

To make matters worse, six cops have so far been either arrested or suspended under the prohibition law. Many believe, this explains the rodents consuming liquor ‘theory’.

As stories of ‘tipsy’ rodents began floating around, district administration in Nalanda and Patna destroyed huge quantities of seized liquor during the last two days. In doing so, they also invoked the provision to confiscate vehicles used to transport illegal liquor, existent in the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016. The government would now initiate steps to auction all such seized vehicles.

“As per the provisions of excise act, we will confiscate godowns, houses and vehicles where alcohol is recovered,” Patna district magistrate Sanjay Agarrwal said.

As the government tries to work out an effective strategy to nip the inter-state racket in its bud by targeting the big fish, the bigger challenge for it is on the legal front. Of the 48,000 arrests under the prohibition law since it came into existence on April 1, 2016, only 3,000 are now in jail, a fact inspector general (prisons) Anand Kishor accepted. Others have been enlarged on bail.

The fact that liquor, despite the ban, is being seized with disconcerting frequency is indication enough that it was still available in dry Bihar. The stringent prohibition law, with provision to book offenders under the crime control act — it allows authorities to detain a person under suspicion — imposing community fine and confiscating property, have not been able to prove effective deterrent for those who enjoy patronage from the powers that be.

For the law abiding, however, even talking about alcohol is a taboo — what with a Congress MLA having to face prohibition heat for talking about liquor during a sting operation carried out by a TV news channel last year.

With anti-prohibition drive losing steam, the officers will once again look up to the chief minister to infuse a new lease of life into what many had called a draconian law while the government cited its “positive social impact”.