Houses of Illicit Liquor Traders Demolished in Nitish Kumar’s Home District Nalanda
Patna: Almost a month after 12 people died due to consumption of illicit liquor in Chhoti Pahari locality of Nalanda, the state government started demolishing houses of 19 liquor traders in chief minister (CM) Nitish Kumar’s home district on Friday.
In the first such action against traders of illicit liquor, officials accompanied by armed police started demolishing the houses.
“The administration has started demolishing a three-storey building of liquor trader Sunita Devi and the houses of others,” Sadar SDO Kumar Anurag told the media.
The houses of Suraj Kumar, Nagina Choudhary, Santosh Choudhary, Anda Choudhary, Devanand Paswan, Akas Paswan, Vikas Paswan, Jitendar Kumar, Karu Paswan, Jitendar Choudhary, Ranjeet Paswan, Meena Devi, Sanjay Paswan alias Bhomwa, Santosh alias Tengra, Chandan Paswan, Sintu Kumar, Dimple Kumar and Saurabh Kumar are also being demolished, Anurag said.
The administration had issued notices to all the identified liquor traders to either demolish their houses on encroached land or produce legal land documents.
Last year, illicit liquor claimed 95 lives, including 45 in November alone. The Nalanda hooch tragedy was a big embarrassment for the CM, who has time and again claimed total prohibition in the state.
According to the district police, the name of Sunita, popularly known as Madam, cropped up soon after the Nalanda deaths. Subsequently, Sunita, the alleged kingpin of the illicit liquor trade in the district, and other traders were arrested last month after the police registered six FIRs. The local court ordered the freezing of her bank account.
After the Nalanda incident, both the Opposition and Kumar’s ruling ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had described his prohibition policy as “ridiculous” and called for a rethink. The BJP had also questioned how illicit liquor traders were freely doing business despite the much-hyped police operation launched to ensure complete prohibition two months ago.
The Opposition had alleged that only the poor and the backward were arrested in the name of prohibition with the traders doing lucrative business.
Recently, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, who is also the Opposition leader, had said that prohibition has failed with the National Democratic Alliance government “arresting thousands of poor and Dalits” and illicit liquor traders beyond its reach.
Daring Kumar to provide data on such traders, smugglers and police officers sent to jail in connection with the illicit liquor trade, Yadav had asked, “Can Nitish Kumar explain how liquor is readily available in the dry state and how the free flow of consignments continues?
Ironically, these cases are being reported from a state where manufacturing, storage, transportation, and sale and consumption of alcohol were banned for more than five years ago in April 2016. Kumar has repeatedly reiterated stringent action against bootleggers and directed top police officers to identify persons engaged in selling and consuming liquor.
Faced with criticism from the Opposition, the state government has been using drones to monitor the liquor trade, activities of traders and search manufacturing units. However, the trade continues with alleged police, political and administrative support.
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