On April 1st 2016, Government of Bihar declared prohibition on Sale and Consumption of liquor. With that it joined the list of select few states like Gujarat, Mizoram and Nagaland that had imposed prohibition. It started with the sale of toddy, spice and other country made liquor and was extended to India made foreign liquor after 6 months.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar wanted to woo the women voters that make up around half the population in Bihar.
According to Nitish Kumar’s admission – It was the outcry of rural women who were fed up of their husbands throwing away hard earned money on liquor and often resorting to physical violence on them and their kids, which ‘forced’ him to initiate this ‘iconic’ deed.
Of course it was also another way of sending a strong signal to friends and foes in Politics that he has now matured as a politician and hence has a legitimate claim on the PM Chair.
The Bihar Prohibition and Excise Bill, 2016 got more and more draconian. All sections in the newly enacted Bill were non-bailable, in which bail can be granted by courts only, and not from the police stations.
According to one of its clauses “Every adult member of an entire family will be held criminals and will face jail terms if any member of the family is found guilty of sale or consumption of liquor.”
Another clause said “if any utensils with a mix of jaggery or grapes is found in any premises, the authorities can be free to assume that process of liquor manufacturing was going on in the premises, and all those providing logistics such as vehicles or containers may be arrested.”
The duplicity of Nitish Kumar can be gauged from the fact that He quietly unbanned Toddy (Taadi) after his alliance partner Lalu Prasad Yadav expressed displeasure over it.
It must be noted that Nitish Kumar’s target audience (The rural womenfolk) were mostly victims of their husbands’ Toddy (and country liquor) addiction and not IMFL or FL addiction.
According to a report, Between 1 April and 20 August, the Bihar government arrested 12,154 persons for violating its prohibition law, data from the state’s excise department shows.
These numbers include those arrested for possession or consumption of alcohol, as well as those arrested for making, selling or smuggling alcohol.
Patna High Court thought of restoring some sanity in the state after all. Patna High court on Friday cracked down Bihar government’s Anti- liquor Act, deeming it ‘illegal’.
Patna High Court must be applauded for striking down upon a hastily made act clearly intended at the sole purpose of scoring electoral mileage.