oppn parties Hooch Tragedy in 'Dry' Bihar

News Snippets

  • Police stop a 12-year old girl on her way to the Sabarimala shrine
  • In Karnataka, the JD(S) indicates that it might support the BJP government if it falls short of numbers after the bypolls
  • Congress pips the BJP in local body elections in Rajasthan, winning 961 wards to the BJPs 737
  • After Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, Jio also indicates that tariffs will be raised from December
  • Sources in Shiv Sena say that they might revive the alliance with the BJP if it offers the 50:50 deal
  • A miffed Sanjay Rout of the Shiv Sena says that it will take "100 births" to understand Sharad Pawar
  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
  • Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress postpone meeting the governor of Maharashtra
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
oppn parties
Hooch Tragedy in 'Dry' Bihar

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
What happens when a tragedy related to illegal hooch consumption happens in a state of India which is ‘dry’? Especially in a state that has recently added draconian provisions in law to “plug leakages” in its attempt to ban manufacture, sale and consumption of many kinds of intoxicants? While the officialdom engages in a charade to misinform press and public in order to save their skins, the zealous chief minister, in a first of its kind, officially contradicts his officers and promises stern action against the culprits.

Officers in Gopalganj district (home of Lalu Prasad, where the tragedy occurred) looked like fools when they first said it was nothing more than “food poisoning” and tried to hush-up the matter. Top brass in Patna parroted their version. Later, other excuses were added. It was an attempt to prove that all was hunky dory with the prohibition policy. Officers could not admit that illegal hooch was being manufactured and sold under their watch. That would have been an admission that the policy was failing.

But the chief minister was more pragmatic. His view throughout was that nothing could be said before enquiries showed concrete result and if hooch was involved, the culprits would be punished. He has already suspended the SHO and 25 police officers of city police station of Gopalganj. Having staked his political career on prohibition, Nitish Kumar has no other option. But he fails to realize that there is no foolproof method of total prohibition. Illegal manufacture and sale of liquor takes place and is an infinitely greater threat to the health and financial ruin of the citizens.

This is the first such tragedy that has come to light in Bihar after prohibition was clamped down. The administration has to be vigilant. Officers have to recognize the threat and should be warned against playing it down as and when it occurs. Policing has to be supplemented with social initiatives. Nitish Kumar has defended his policy recently by saying that his government was taking huge social initiatives to involve the public. But if hooch is being made, sold and consumed illegally, his efforts are lacking somewhere. Or the widespread support he claims for his policy is not there on the ground. Kumar needs to make a detailed analysis of what is going wrong and put remedial measures in place; otherwise such tragedies will keep occurring.