Booze lovers in Bihar are running to the border to quench their thirst as the government tightens the noose on liquor sale. While some choose to head to Nepal, others are flocking to shops in Jharkhand, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
The Bihar government’s decision is a blessing for wine shops in Birgunj, Bhansar, Kalaiya, Gaur (near Raxaul) and Inarva (across Jaynagar). The shops have increased footfall from Bihar, but whether this is just a knee-jerk reaction to the ban remains to be seen. Nonetheless, while the going is good, shop owners are making the most of it. “Our daily sales have registered a three-fold jump after the implementation of liquor ban in Bihar,” said Manoj Sapkota, a shop owner in Kalaiya (Nepal). “We are selling our stuff at a premium due to surge in sales.”
“I have already sounded my distributor to increase the quota of vodka, rum, kurkuri, beer, etc, to keep pace with increased demand,” said Ramavtar, a liquor vendor in Birgunj-Bhansar.
Not everyone can afford to travel for their daily fix.
Ramesh Sahani, an alcoholic under treatment in Motihari Sadar Hospital, said the distance was a prohibiting factor for him to lay hands on a cheap substitute of the country liquor from across the border. “Now I am dying in hospital,” he said. His wife, Shanti Devi, on the other hand, couldn’t be happier. She hopes he comes out a sober man, and urged the government to step up vigil on the border to check drunkards from skirting the law. Excise inspector Sagir Khan said the borders were being patrolled and those found inebriated would be punished. “We are also keeping a close watch to stop smuggling of liquor,” he said.
The local police allegedly are using violence to deter tipplers trudging back with their prize from Birgunj in Nepal. “Such caning is almost a daily feature,” said Dilip Dubey, a local resident.
The drive to destroy illegal breweries also continues.