The Bihar government had recently permitted liquor stores in every panchayat, angering local women who said they were regularly molested by drunken men, especially after dark.(File photo for representation)
The Bihar government had recently permitted liquor stores in every panchayat, angering local women who said they were regularly molested by drunken men, especially after dark.(File photo for representation)

Illicit liquor weakens prohibition impact in Bihar

The Bihar government had recently permitted liquor stores in every panchayat, angering local women who said they were regularly molested by drunken men, especially after dark.
By Vijay Swaroop | Patna
UPDATED ON NOV 03, 2020 05:36 AM IST

In December 2012, the woman of Konar, a nondescript village 12 kms from Sasaram, found that young children were drinking liquor out of pouches strewn everywhere.

The Bihar government had recently permitted liquor stores in every panchayat, angering local women who said they were regularly molested by drunken men, especially after dark.

Earlier that month, a medical student was brutally gang raped and attacked in Delhi; as news of the violent crime reached Konar, it galvanised the woman who mostly came from marginalised communities. They organised themselves into groups and started demonstrating for a ban on the sale of liquor.

“Liquor was one of the reasons for the gang rape episode in Delhi. So, after receiving numerous complaints from rural women, who were silently suffering the daily taunts, we decided to begin an agitation,” said Sunita Devi, the founder of Pragatisheel Mahila Manch (PMM), a social platform floated by women against alcoholism.

The movement started in Konar spread like wildfire across the state with thousands of women and activists holding demonstrations across the state, demanding prohibition. Women came out on the streets and thronged political meetings, with slogans against liquor. “We opposed the policy of the state government to issue liberally permission for liquor shops in every panchayat. This ruined the youth and children,” added Devi.

In the 2015 assembly election, prohibition was one of the key election issues and a central plank of chief minister Nitish Kumar. The buzz around the demand helped push up women voter turnout to 59.92%. In at least 30 assembly constituencies, the turnout of women voters crossed 70%.

After Nitish Kumar -- who was with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) at the time -- came back to power, he quickly instituted a slew of measures such as 35% reservation for women in state government jobs and panchayat bodies, and free bicycles and school dress to girls.

And then, in April 2016, Bihar banned the sale and storage of liquor, becoming the second state after Gujarat to completely impose prohibition.

Four years later as another assembly election comes around, the women of Konar are ambivalent about the impact of their movement because they feel a thriving illicit liquor mafia has undercut its achievements.

“We cannot forget the days when most of our family income was spent on liquor. That changed after prohibition. However, things are back to square one now, albeit illegally. The ban has remained only on paper and liquor smuggling is rampant,” said Phudena Devi who actively organised the anti-liquor protests in 2012 and 2013.

.Shanti Devi, of neighbouring Sitabigha village, agreed. She said the village lost 100 men to illicit liquor in the last six-seven years. “The purpose of our agitation has been lost. People are now indulging in illegal trade of liquor. Some poor children are also involved in it,” she alleged.

In four years, Bihar confiscated 41.06 lakh litres of IMFL and country made liquor, often hiring road rollers to smash bottles of liquor. But experts warned that only a small fraction of the smuggled liquor was being seized; even then, in many cases, bottles disappeared from police godowns -- in 2018,police in Kaimur district claimed that rats drank 11,000 litres of smuggled alcohol.

For Santi Devi, the liquor ban yielded mixed results. “Alcohol is easily available for anyone who wants to drink,” she said. “Still there are instances of domestic violence. But it is not as brazen as it used to be and it has helped families,” she added.

The support base of women voters, which boosted Kumar in 2015, is also sore about the economic crash and migrant crisis during the nationwide lockdown earlier this year.

“Nitish only got support from the rural women. Women belonging to middle and upper class were not with him when he announced prohibition. The rural women who backed him, have become vocal critics due to loss of jobs of their male family members during the lockdown,” said DM Diwakar, former director of AN Sinha Institute for Social Studies.

Shefali Roy, professor of political science at Patna University, said the enthusiasm of women voters -- visible in 2015 -- was missing this time. “The silent force behind Nitish Kumar’s victory was the women during the last elections. In gratification to the move of banning alcohol, women outnumbered men in the voting process. However, this was quite a transitory period. Very soon women realised their mistake, when illegal consumption and sale of alcohol made headlines,” she said.

Janata Dal (United ) spokesperson Rajeev Ranjan said women voters continued to stand with Kumar.

“Women voters began associating with Nitish Kumar ever since he began empowering them. The improvement of law and order has had its effect on them in rural areas as well. Prohibition further strengthened their faith in Nitish Kumar. We are sure, they (the women) will stand by us,” he said.

“The purpose of prohibition has not been served. Women are also disillusioned by this falsehood. They are also fed up with rampant illegal sale of liquor. So, we don’t see any gain to Nitish Kumar from this law,” said Premchandra Mishra, Congress MLC.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
PM Modi will interact with the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar (PMRBP) awardees at 12pm on Monday.(PTI)
PM Modi will interact with the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar (PMRBP) awardees at 12pm on Monday.(PTI)

PM Modi to interact with Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar awardees tomorrow

Written by Prashasti Singh, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:42 PM IST
The PMRBP, formerly known as the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement, is India's highest civilian honour for those under the age of 18.
Close
All eyes are on the tractor march of the farmers on January 26 as it has already been subject to many controversies.(ANI)
All eyes are on the tractor march of the farmers on January 26 as it has already been subject to many controversies.(ANI)

308 Twitter handles from Pakistan creating confusion over tractor march: Police

Written by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:42 PM IST
Delhi Police on Sunday specified that they have found 308 Twitter handles with their origins in Pakistan creating confusion over tractor march.
Close

Hardeep Puri Interview: On Central Vista, Adani airports row, vaccine exports

By Kumkum Chadha, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:38 PM IST
In HT’s series The Interview, Puri talks at length on several issues: controversial and informative. If he defends industrialist Gautam Adani bagging the contract for six airports, he also talks about expanding the aviation sector, and the phased roll-out of transporting the vaccine.
Close
Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.(PTI file)
Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.(PTI file)

Sole aim of Cong is to bring Babur's rule in Assam: Himanta

PTI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:08 PM IST
Himanta Biswa Sarma also alleged that followers of Ajmal attacked 'Satras', the Vaishnavite places of worship, at Batadrava and other areas.
Close
FILE PHOTO: A man counts Indian currency notes inside a shop in Mumbai, India, August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas(REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: A man counts Indian currency notes inside a shop in Mumbai, India, August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas(REUTERS)

Old 5, 10 and 100 notes to go out of circulation after March? Govt says

By hindustantimes.com
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:09 PM IST
Unlike 1,000 currency, which was declared exhausted by the government in 2016, 100 was circulated in the Indian economy in a new colour of lavender in 2019 without declaring the previous legal tender void.
Close
Nalbari: Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses BJP's Bijoy Sankalpo Samabhekh public rally in Nalbari, Assam, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (PTI Photo) (PTI01_24_2021_000144A)(PTI)
Nalbari: Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses BJP's Bijoy Sankalpo Samabhekh public rally in Nalbari, Assam, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (PTI Photo) (PTI01_24_2021_000144A)(PTI)

Congress and AIUDF will open doors for illegal immigrants in Assam: Amit Shah

PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 05:53 PM IST
  • Amit Shah also accused new political parties formed on the back of anti-CAA protests of indirectly aiding Congress.
Close
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses during a program organised for his interaction with the NCC cadets, NSS volunteers and artists participating in Republic Day Parade, in New Delhi on Sunday. (ANI Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses during a program organised for his interaction with the NCC cadets, NSS volunteers and artists participating in Republic Day Parade, in New Delhi on Sunday. (ANI Photo)

'When you march on Rajpath...': PM Modi talks to participants of R-Day parade

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Arpan Rai, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 05:53 PM IST
The Republic Day parade, PM Modi said, pays tribute to India's great social, cultural heritage, as well as our strategic strength.
Close
Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav with farmer leaders.(PTI File Photo)
Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav with farmer leaders.(PTI File Photo)

Formal permission received from police for Jan 26 tractor rally: Yogendra Yadav

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 05:49 PM IST
Hindustan Times' sister publication Livehindustan reported that three alternate routes have been decided upon by farmers and Delhi Police during a meeting.
Close
Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan addresses during an event, in Jabalpur on Sunday. (ANI Photo)
Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan addresses during an event, in Jabalpur on Sunday. (ANI Photo)

Madhya Pradesh CM launches 'PANKH Abhiyan' on National Girl Child Day

Written by Prashasti Singh, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 05:48 PM IST
The National Girl Child Day is celebrated every year since 2008 to spread awareness about the inequalities and atrocities girls have to face in our patriarchal society.
Close
Devotees take a holy dip in the waters of river Ganges to mark "Makar Sankranti" festival.(REUTERS)
Devotees take a holy dip in the waters of river Ganges to mark "Makar Sankranti" festival.(REUTERS)

Mahakumbh 2021: All devotees should register with Uttarakhand govt, says Centre

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 05:46 PM IST
The medical certificates can be either from a community health centre, district hospital or a medical college, the SOP said.
Close
Mamata Banerjee had on Saturday declined to speak at an official programme at the lawn of Victoria Memorial Hall to celebrate Subhas Chandra Bose's birth anniversary(File photo)
Mamata Banerjee had on Saturday declined to speak at an official programme at the lawn of Victoria Memorial Hall to celebrate Subhas Chandra Bose's birth anniversary(File photo)

Mamata Banerjee hails from 'demoness' culture, has faulty DNA: BJP MLA in UP

PTI
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 04:00 PM IST
The BJP claimed that Banerjee's reaction reflected her mindset of appeasement politics, while the ruling Trinamool Congress said no one can teach lumpens to be dignified.
Close
Since the beginning of farmers' 'Dilli Chalo' protests, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab CM Amarinder Singh have engaged in a bitter war of words.
Since the beginning of farmers' 'Dilli Chalo' protests, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab CM Amarinder Singh have engaged in a bitter war of words.

Farmers protest: AAP ups ante, quotes RTI document to slam Amarinder Singh

Written by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 03:56 PM IST
The party on Sunday produced RTI documents claiming Punjab CM Amarinder Singh was part of a high-powered committee of chief ministers for 'Transformation of Indian Agriculture'.
Close
New Delhi: Tableau of Ladakh during the full dress rehearsal for the upcoming Republic Day Parade, at Rajpath in New Delhi, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (PTI Photo/Atul Yadav)(PTI01_23_2021_000103B)(PTI)
New Delhi: Tableau of Ladakh during the full dress rehearsal for the upcoming Republic Day Parade, at Rajpath in New Delhi, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (PTI Photo/Atul Yadav)(PTI01_23_2021_000103B)(PTI)

In a first, Ladakh tableau to be part of Republic Day parade

ANI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 03:45 PM IST
Ladakh's tableau will depict the iconic Thiksey Monastery located on top of a hill in Thikse in Leh district, and is one of the most-visited tourist sites in the region.
Close
Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses during an event at Police Headquarters in New Delhi, on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)
Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses during an event at Police Headquarters in New Delhi, on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

Bodo accord has brought peace to BTR, says Amit Shah in Kokrajhar, Assam

By Utpal Parashar, Guwahati
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 03:39 PM IST
  • Shah mentioned how the Bodo accord was crucial in ensuring a peaceful election to the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) held last month. He lambasted the opposition Congress for failing to fulfil promises.
Close
Tractor trolleys of farmers parked at Kundli border during their ongoing agitation against the new farm laws, on Sunday.(PTI Photo)
Tractor trolleys of farmers parked at Kundli border during their ongoing agitation against the new farm laws, on Sunday.(PTI Photo)

UP govt orders no diesel for tractors as farmers gear up for Jan 26 rally

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 03:35 PM IST
The farmers want to take out the rally on Outer Ring Road, while the police have suggested alternate routes.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP