Democracy is the only form of government in which persuasion works more than coercion. But, denying this archetypal truth, Nitish Kumar decided to unilaterally prohibit Biharis from consuming alcohol. As expected, it did not work and now, Bihar Police which was handed the responsibility of guarding the ban has turned into bootlegging industrialists.
Police officer arrested with alcohol
Bihar Police are now tired of arresting criminals for drinking alcohol. Their new targets are their own brethren now. A police officer was recently arrested in the Muzaffarpur district of the state. According to a report by Hindi daily Hindustan, an ASI named Ramchandra Pandit, posted in Minapur Police Station was apprehended by a trainee IPS. He was partying with a liquor mafia (Sonu) inside the premises of the Police station. The report reveals that he used to steal the confiscated liquor and drink as well as sell it.
Local SSP Jayakant said, “Trainee IPS officer Sharat R S is officiating as the in-charge of the police station. He had a suspicion that Pandit had reported for duty in a drunken state. A breath analyser test conducted on the ASI confirmed the same.”
This is not the only instance of an officer inside the aforementioned Police Station getting apprehended for selling alcohol. On 11 October 2019, the contemporary station-in-charge of Minapur station was arrested after two bottles were recovered from his official bungalow. Similarly, Amitabh Kumar, station-in-charge of Motipur station in the same district is also facing similar charges.
Read more: Why liquor ban in Bihar is a bad idea?
Police and liquor mafia are synonyms for Biharis
If you think that these incidents are few and far, then you are in for a rude surprise. After the liquor ban started to take shape in Bihar, average people started to treat lawbreakers as well as law enforcement officers in the same vein. It happened because the Police had been handed too much power. The ban is too restrictive, even for the officials handling law and order in the state. Their job is too fraught with workload and they need liquor in regulated amounts. But, for Nitish, if anyone drinks alcohol, then they are meant to fall into a pit.
The ban is Taliban-esque in its letter and spirit. The law is so strict that if you have your house in Bihar and someone throws alcohol in your house, and the police get a hold of it, you will be nabbed by the police for illegal possession of alcohol. As it turned out, the ban was not able to eliminate the thirst of common people for alcohol. Male members of the family who used to spend Rs 100 for their liquor are now chalking out Rs 200 of their hard-earned money to buy illegal alcohol. This has led to reduced household spending and an increased threat of violence on dependent women and children of the family.
Ban on alcohol is never going to work
The innovative way in which smugglers are smuggling alcohol is not possible without the assistance of Police officers. And soon their lies started to get exposed. In 2018, Gopalganj SP caught two cops including a station house officer (SHO) selling illegal liquor that too inside the premises of the Police station. Later, similar arrests were made in Hajipur and Samastipur districts as well.
Nitish Kumar’s frustration with the failure of the ban kept mounting. However, he decided to double down on the ban. Instead of tinkering with the policy, in November 2021, the Nitish Kumar-led government tightened the norms for the law-enforcement agencies and said that if liquor is found in any area, the Station House Officer (SHO) of that particular area will be suspended.
But, no amount of coercion has been able to fulfil Nitish Kumar’s dream of a liquor-free Bihar. Frankly, it will never work with force. Hardcore alcoholics have left drinking on their whims, but the call to leave came from inside their hearts, not that any government forced them to do it. Police personnel are also human beings like every single one of us. If you give them too much power, they will use it for their own gains. This is exactly what Bihar Police is doing.