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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

Nitish orders probe into Bihar spurious liquor deaths, more heads set to roll

The Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, prescribes most severe punishment for those responsible for any death caused by consumption of spurious liquor.

patna Updated: Oct 28, 2017 18:20 IST
Avinash Kumar
Avinash Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
(Reuters representative image)

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has ordered an administrative inquiry into the spurious liquor tragedy in Rohtas district of south western Bihar, which claimed four lives on Saturday and asked the officials concerned to fix responsibility for the incident.

Kumar, who imposed a ban on liquor on April 5, 2016, has repeatedly impressed upon the police and administrative machinery to impose a total clampdown on all formers of liquor sale and consumption and suggested severest action against bootleggers.

The Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, prescribes severe punishment to those responsible for any death caused by consumption of spurious liquor.

The police headquarters has suspended all the eight police personnel posted at the Kachhua police station, under which the deaths occurred. Show-cause notices have been issued against as many people, including SDPO (Bikramganj) Neeraj Kumar and circle inspector (Nasriganj) Anil Kumar.

This is not the first case of people consuming illicit liquor in Bihar. The first hooch tragedy occurred at Gopalganj in August 16, 2016, soon after the ban came into force. The incident had claimed 18 lives.

Bihar DGP P K Thakur said all the accused in the case would be put to speedy trial. “Whoever is found guilty will not be spared. Stern action would be taken against those responsible for the tragedy and the officials who failed to initiated action to curb illegal retailing of liquor,” he added.

The hooch tragedy has come as a major embarrassment for the Bihar government, as it has once again underlined rampant smuggling of liquor and slackening monitoring systems in a dry state, which, the opposition fears, has led to the growth of a parallel economy.

The incident also showed that alcohol is freely available in the black market.

The DGP said the officials would also probe into how illicit liquor was retailed and the circumstances which led to the present tragedy.

Investigators said, it appeared that the liquor mafia had been running manufacturing units near villages situated on both sides of the Sone river in Bhojpur and Arwal districts, possibly with the connivance of both excise and police officials.

Sources in the police headquarters said fresh hands appeared to have entered the bootlegging trade and these newcomers were trading mainly in country liquor. The new operators were either close aides of influential bootleggers or those who were trying their hand at the illicit trade because the veterans were currently under police watch.

Patna zone IG of police N H Khan himself visited the spot and constituted a team comprising of Arwal, Bhojpur and Rohtas police officials to destroy the manufacturing units running near the banks of Sone river.

Talking to HT, Khan said two persons were arrested, while forensic experts had picked liquor samples from Danwar-Bihta village. An FIR has been lodged against three persons who were suspected to have brought the illicit liquor into the village. All the constables posted in Kachhwa police station had been transferred, the IG added.

Meanwhile, former deputy chief minister and leader opposition Tejashwi Yadav slammed chief minister over the hooch deaths. He alleged that the CM was not serious about the implementation of total liquor ban in Bihar.

“The ban is only on paper. Nitish Kumar is not bothered about its implementation”, he added.

First Published: Oct 28, 2017 18:20 IST