5 Dead in Bihar’s First Hooch Tragedy This Year
Patna: In the first hooch tragedy reported in ‘dry’ Bihar this year, at least, five people, mostly poor, died in the last 24 hours in the Siwan district. More than six others are battling for life at a government hospital.
The incident, reported in Bala village, Bhopatpur panchayat, under Maharajganj sub-division, has again exposed the state government’s failure to curb the illicit liquor trade.
Contrary to chief minister Nitish Kumar’s tall claim of a successful prohibition in the state, six police personnel were attacked when a team of cops and excise officials and cops raided a house in Darbhanga district on Sunday on a tip-off that illicit liquor was being manufactured there. The team’s four vehicles were also damaged by the liquor manufacturer’s henchmen.
In recent months, police teams have been attacked by liquor manufacturers/traders at several, mainly in rural areas. The police have been seizing hundreds of litres of liquor every month.
Siwan district magistrate Amit Kumar Pandey refused to confirm the cause of the hooch deaths. The administration is probing the incident and it is difficult to say anything till the post-mortem reports are available, he told the media.
An official at the district civil surgeon office told Newsclick that nearly 12 people were brought to the Sadar hospital by their families on Sunday night. One died on the way, two at the hospital and two on the way after they were referred to Patna Medical College and Hospital. Seven people are still undergoing treatment, he added.
According to villagers and the victims’ families, the deceased had consumed Desi Daru, which is cheap and easily available, and started complaining of uneasiness, stomach pain, vomiting, weakness and loss of vision.
“My husband Rajdeo Rawat consumed illicit liquor on Saturday. A day later, he complained of blurred vision and stomach pain. His condition deteriorated on Sunday evening and he was rushed to the local primary health centre and later referred to Patna, but he died on the way,” Phulmati Devi told Newsclick over the phone.
Phulmati, a mother of six minors, said that illicit liquor snatched the family’s only breadwinner. “We will struggle for survival without any source of livelihood.” Sohela Devi said that her husband Dhuredhar Manjhi died on the way to Patna hospital.
Angry villagers blamed the local police for the flourishing illicit liquor trade in their village and neighbouring areas and said that “prohibition is only on paper”. Liquor is available everywhere, but the police hardly take action against manufacturers and traders, they alleged.
More than 150 people died in 2022 in hooch tragedies. In December, more than 80 people reportedly died in the Saran district, but the government put the toll at 38. In more than seven years, one hooch tragedy after another has been reported in the state despite the ban on manufacturing, storage, transportation, sale and consumption of alcohol since April 2016. The business is flourishing despite the much-hyped use of drones, copters and motorboats by the government.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.