In April this year, 1,281 persons were sent to jail under Bihar’s amended excise law. It was the first month after total prohibition was enforced in the state (on April 5) by the Nitish Kumar government.
This month, till August 27, as per excise department figures, 3,598 persons have landed in jails.
Excise department figures show in nearly five months (April-August), over 13,200 persons have been arrested and sent to jail under the new excise law since April 5, when Bihar turned fully dry.
This is in addition to the pre-prohibition swoop since December 2015 in which the department claimed to have lodged a whopping 13,023 cases till March 31 and carried out 7,982 arrests. Of them, 5,011 persons were sent to jail.
The figures of prison department, however, tell a different story. According to official sources, total number of persons sent to jail up to July 31, 2016 was only 3,324, out of which 943 got bail. This leaves just 2,381 persons in jail.
Assistant excise commissioner OP Mandal said that the figures provided by him were accurate.
However, more astonishing is the growing seizures of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) in a state that has been dry for nearly five months now. August turned out to be the month of highest recovery of IMFL, which could reach the 50,000 litres mark– more than three times the recovery of 15,411 litres made in the first month of prohibition.
If the excise department’s figures are to be considered, the rate of arrests is likely to burden Bihar’s prisons in the months to come, with smuggling of liquor continuing to be a risk worth taking in the state despite ‘tight surveillance’.
“The all-new excise law is yet to come into force, as the governor has not granted his assent to the bill so far. Once that comes into force, the number of arrests will certainly grow, as enforcement will continue to be strict,” said an excise official.
IG (prisons) Anand Kishor said that there was nothing to worry. “The number of prison inmates is around 28,718 at present against the capacity of 37,809 in state’s 58 prisons. So, there is no pressure on prisons right now, we still have space for another 9,000. Besides, many get bail also,” he added.
Another excise official admitted that despite continuing raids and awareness campaigns, what was significant was that the arrests were still showing an increasing trend, as was the case of recoveries.
“People are getting caught, but are not giving up smuggling of liquor. In the first month of April, 15,411 litres of IMFL were seized, while it dropped to 3502 litres in May. In August, with four days remaining, the IMFL seizure has already reached 44748 litres despite a whopping 16748 raids,” he added.
Mandal said that on a single day on Sunday, 4,455 litres of IMFL was seized in the state. The police seized 2,270 bottles of Haryana-made IMFL from two vehicles in Gopalganj alone,” he added.
Excise crackdown till August 27
Cases lodged: 12,701
IMFL seized: 1,17,408 litres
August seizure: 44,248 litres
Sunday seizure: 4,455 litres