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Bihar: Left Parties Demand Resignation of Minister After Hooch Claims Lives in 4 Districts

Flourishing illicit and spurious liquor trade is not possible without patronage and support of a powerful liquor nexus, and as a result, illicit liquor has become a synonym for the death of the poor in Bihar, left leaders claim
CPIM Bihar

Patna: Illicit liquor continues to claim the lives of more people, mostly the poor, in the dry state of Bihar. At least four people died on Tuesday allegedly after consuming illicit liquor in Muzaffarpur district. Since last week, this is the fourth district where people have reportedly died after consuming illicit liquor.

Forty-three people had earlier died in Gopalganj, West Champaran and Samastipur last week after consuming spurious liquor.

As per reports from Muzaffarpur, three people died in Sirsiya village and one in Bariyarpur village that come under Kanti police station. Three people are still battling for their lives in hospitals.

The families of the hooch victims claimed that they died after consuming illicit liquor. It has created fresh havoc among local villagers and police officials as the second-day celebrations of Chhath, the most popular festival in the state, are underway.

The incidents have exposed the Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government's failure to check and control the illicit liquor trade. According to reports, illicit liquor has claimed 95 lives since January 2021. Despite Kumar declaring Bihar a dry state in 2016, country-made and foreign liquor continue to be readily available.

Meanwhile, five Left parties have demanded the resignation of Bihar’s excise and prohibition minister Sunil Kumar, and compensation of 20 lakh each to families of the victims of alcohol poisoning.

Twenty people have died in Gopalganj, seventeen have died in West Champaran, and six in Samastipur so far.

State units of left parties - Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), Revolutionary Socialist Party, and All India Forward Bloc - in a joint press statement released on November 9, condemned the insensitive and irresponsible attitude of the state government towards recent deaths in hooch incidents.

“Illicit liquor trade is flourishing in the state with the protection of the state power and help of the police. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar must be aware of this ground reality. After how many deaths then, will he be awakened?” asked the left leaders.

The undersigned in the press statement included CPI(ML) state secretary Kunal, CPI(M) state secretary Awadesh Kumar, CPI state secretary Ramnaresh Pandey, Forward Bloc leader America Mahto and RSP leader Virender Thakur.

Left parties further added that “So far this year nearly 100 people have lost lives after consuming illicit liquor in the state. Left parties are stronger supporters of a total liquor prohibition but unlike Nitish Kumar, we hardly believe in showing off. Nitish Kumar never misses a chance to take credit for a total liquor prohibition, which is only on paper. The reality is that Nitish Kumar has provided an opportunity for flourishing illicit and spurious liquor trade. Liquor mafias are having good days and people are dying,” they said.

Left parties leaders dared the state government to probe into the politician-administration-liquor mafia nexus. This nexus, they claim, is behind the production and sale of illicit and spurious liquor.

The statement added that a flourishing illicit and spurious liquor trade is not possible without the patronage and support of a powerful liquor nexus. As a result, illicit liquor has become a synonym for the death of the poor in Bihar. Instead of curbing the liquor mafia, the poor are being punished through the draconian Prohibition Act.

The leaders said that the government should stop using the prohibition law as a weapon to repress and oppress the poor and override proper medical treatment and de-addiction programs for persons who are really addicted by opening description centres.

Left parties will launch a campaign against liquor consumption at the village and panchayat-level across the state. “We will create awareness and appeal to people to make a distance from social evil.”

Noticeably, in the past, Nitish Kumar has repeatedly reiterated stringent action against bootleggers and directed the state's top police officers to identify persons engaged in selling and consuming liquor

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