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In dry State of Bihar, Police Officials Become Soft target of Liquor Mafia

On December 19, a police sub-inspector was run over by people working for the liquor mafia.
dry bihar

Patna: After the sand mafia, the powerful liquor mafia is now attacking, injuring and killing police officials trying to crack down on them in Bihar. In the dry state, hardly a day passes without a report of the liquor mafia’s henchmen attacking police teams during the crackdown against those involved in the lucrative business of illegal “desi” liquor.

The latest incident took place on Tuesday night (December 19, 2023 ), when a police sub-inspector was crushed to death, and another police constable was seriously injured by the liquor mafia in the Nawakothi police station area in Begusarai district.

According to the district police officials, a police team attempted to halt and search a four-wheeler (Alto Car) after receiving a tip-off that the liquor mafia was carrying illicit liquor. The local liquor mafia’s people deliberately struck down police sub-inspector Khamash Choudhary. Choudhary succumbed to his injuries at the spot itself, and constable Baleshwar Yadav was seriously injured in the incident. Yadav has been admitted to a

local government hospital for treatment.

“A police team led by Choudhary rushed to a location on Tuesday late at night upon receiving information about a car carrying illicit liquor. Choudhary, along with a police team, tried

to stop the car. But the car driver ignored the police signal to stop and ran them over, resulting in Choudhary’s death,” a district police official stated.

The Begusarai Superintendent of Police said that special police teams arrested the driver, confiscated the vehicle, and conducted raids to arrest those involved in the crime.

Ironically, the shocking incident took place a day after the Bihar police headquarters issued a directive to take stern action against anti-social elements involved in the attack on

police by lodging a named FIR. Police headquarters also directed the officials, who went to conduct raids against the illegal sand and liquor trade, to take an adequate number of personnel in the team.

Bihar police ADG Sanjay Singh admitted that the attacks on police have increased in the state, which is related to checking and controlling illegal sand and liquor trade. This is an example to show that police have been acting strictly and cracking down on them.

According to the latest NCRB report (2022), 68 police officials were injured during duty in Bihar.

Powerful liquor manufacturers or traders have reportedly attacked police teams and officials of the excise department during raids. Henchmen of the liquor mafia have reportedly attacked and injured police teams at more than a dozen places across the state in recent months. An Assistant Sub-Inspector of police was crushed to death in Siwan district on May 26 last year when a police team was checking vehicles. In 2021,

another police personnel was crushed to death, and several were injured in a series of attacks by liquor manufacturers and traders in different places.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar repeatedly claimed that the implementation of liquor prohibition, enforced in the state in April 2016, was constantly improving, but the ground reality is different. Despite the much-hyped use of drones, copters and motorboats by the government to curb the illegal manufacturing and smuggling of liquor, hundreds of poor people have died after allegedly consuming illicit alcohol in the last seven years.

After repeated hooch incidents across the state last year and this year, angry villagers blamed the local police for the flourishing trade of illicit, country-made liquor in their villages and neighbouring areas. They alleged that local liquor manufacturers and traders are doing business freely, but the police hardly take action despite being aware of it and receiving complaints. If the police had enforced prohibition in the village and acted against the liquor manufacturers and traders, the tragedy could have been averted, they said.

The series of hooch incidents in the dry state in recent years has exposed the government’s failure to check and control the illegal liquor trade. Illicit liquor is available freely at cheap rates in rural areas. The trade has caught up after Kumar imposed total liquor prohibition in the state. There is a complete ban on the manufacturing, storage, transportation, and sale and consumption of alcohol in Bihar.

However, prohibition has become a joke among the people, with illicit liquor freely available on demand and even delivered to homes with the alleged complicity of the police.

Illegal sand miners, locally known as the “Balu” mafia (sand mafia), also target police, administrative officers and mining officials attempting to curb the lucrative business.

In the past eleven months this year, the henchmen of the sand mafia have attacked police and administrative officials over 50 times across the state, particularly in half a dozen districts famous for the highly demanded and priced ‘pila sona’—bright yellow sand.

In November, Sub-Inspector Prabhat Ranjan was crushed to death, and another police constable was seriously injured by the sand mafia in the Garehi police station area in Jamui district. This marks the second case of a police official being killed by the sand mafia in the state within two weeks. As reported in local Hindi dailies, police teams were attacked by illegal sand miners in Nawada, Bhojpur, Patna, Nalanda, Saran, Aurangabad, Rohtas, and Gaya districts this year.

Last month, a police team faced an attack and gunfire from the sand mafia near Amnabad under the Bihta police station in Patna. No police officials were injured, but it served

as a warning against taking action on them.

The illegal sand mining persists along rivers, particularly in Sone, Kiul Falgu, Chanan, Morhar, Punpun, and Ganga, owing to alleged collusion between miners, local politicians, criminals, administrative officials, and the police. Hundreds of boats, trucks, tractors, dumpers, and JCBs can be seen extracting and loading sand along the banks of various rivers.

Political watchers in Bihar have time and again pointed out that a powerful nexus of local politicians, police, administrative officials and criminals is behind organised sand and liquor mafia.

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