GAYA: Recovery of liquor from a government school and release of teachers arrested for their alleged involvement in the smuggling of the banned brew has sparked massive protest in Bihar’s Gaya district, 107 km from Patna.
At least 12 bottles of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) were recovered from the government primary school at Pramod Nagar, about 20 km from here, during a raid by Cherki police on Saturday following a tip-off. The bottles were found concealed in bags of rice meant for midday meal (MDM). The police arrested four school teachers, but set them free after a few hours.
An enraged mob, including parents of school students and women, locked the school and blocked the Cherki-Dobhi road on Monday. A team from Cherki police station, which tried to clear the blockade, was chased away by the agitating villagers. Bodh Gaya deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Ravishankar Prasad later reached there with heavy enforcement and tied to persuade the mob to lift the blockade.
After four hours of persuasion, the mob agreed to end the agitation on a condition that the police would register a named FIR on the basis of the statement by school cook Jirawa Devi. The FIR lodged on Saturday was against unknown persons.
In the fresh FIR, Jirawa Devi alleged that four teachers—Upendra Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Sarfaraj and Nisha Kumari—had been using the school storeroom and the kitchen to conceal liquor for a long time. They were also involved in the liquor trade, she said.
Despite registration of a fresh FIR, the school remained locked on Tuesday, with the parents refusing to send children there.
Alarmed over the matter, the Gaya district administration directed the MDM officer to inquire into the incident and initiate steps to ensure sanctity of educational institutions.
Gaya district magistrate Kumar Ravi said the law would take its own course. “It is now up to the police to find out the truth and act in accordance with the law. I have directed the district MDM officer to look into the circumstances under which the liquor reached the school. I have asked him to ensure hygienic meal to children and regular inspection of the kitchen as well as storerooms of schools,” the DM added.
The Bodh Gaya DSP has also directed the police station concerned to club all the complaints received in connection with liquor smuggling from the school and build up a strong case against all the teachers named in the FIR.
“The police have swung into action to gather evidences against the accused before initiating further action,” he said. When asked why the teachers were set free after their arrest on Saturday, the DSP said nobody had turned up before the police as witness and there was no concrete evidence against them. “After the new complaint, we have initiated investigation afresh and are also keeping eyes on the suspects. If the allegations are found true, we will spare nobody,” the DSP said, and added that efforts were still on to open the locked school building with the cooperation of parents.
Manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol is banned in Bihar since total prohibition was imposed in the state on April 5, 2016.