Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took the shot at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in Patna. (Image: Twitter/ @NitishKumar)
Faced with criticism over the ‘ineffective' implementation of the liquor ban in Bihar, chief minister Nitish Kumar has reiterated that there is no question of rollback on prohibition.
Kumar, whose government implemented the ban in 2016, said stringent action would be taken against the bootleggers and asked the state’s police chief to identify those engaged in the sale and consumption of liquor.
“I think it is not impossible to identify people violating the ban. I have told the DGP to ensure proper action against such people,” the CM told reporters on the sidelines of his 70th birthday on March 1.
Kumar has been on the back foot after a series of incidents in Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj, Kaimur and Rohtas districts where over 20 persons died after allegedly consuming poisonous liquor in the last two weeks.
The Tejashwi Yadav-led opposition launched a scathing attack on the Kumar-led NDA government after a police sub-inspector was killed and the village guard sustained gunshot injuries in a shootout with liquor mafia in Majorganj area of Sitamarhi district last week.
Not just the Opposition, alliance partner BJP’s Legislative Councilor Sanjay Paswan said that the state government should reconsider the ban to avoid smuggling and attacks on security forces.
“After the attack on the police officer in Sitamarhi, the situation has become more serious here in Bihar,” Paswan was quoted by news agencies.
Incidents of liquor smuggling have increased in the recent past ahead of the upcoming Panchayat elections in Bihar. Sources said liquor is being illegally transported from neighbouring states such as Uttar Pradesh owing to heavy demand.
The CM has, however, been defending the ban saying that the majority favoured it. Last week addressing a function in Patna as part of Bihar Police Week-2021, Kumar stressed that a full-fledged team should be constituted to conduct anti-liquor drives.
So far, the Bihar government said, 619 personnel and officials of state government, police and excise department, had faced departmental actions for their laxity in ensuring the proper implementation of prohibition.
As many as 2,55,111 cases of violation of prohibition were lodged in the state from April 6, 2016, to February 2021 and 51.7 lakh litres of country-made liquor and 94.9 lakh litres of Indian foreign make liquor (IMFL) have been seized by officials in Bihar.
Of the 3,39,401 people arrested since 2016, 470 have been convicted, state government officials said.