Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday told media persons waiting for his reaction on the 39 deaths so far in the Chhapra hooch tragedy that if “someone consumes spurious liquor, they will die” as he came under heavy pressure on his alleged failed excise policy.
Defending the liquor ban in Bihar, he said that the state’s prohibition policy has benefitted several people and a large number of people have given up drinking alcohol due to his measures.
“The liquor ban has benefitted several people. A large number of people have given up alcohol…This is good. Several people have happily accepted this. But there are some troublemakers. I have told officers to identify the actual troublemakers and nab them,” Kumar told the media in Patna.
“I have told officers that they shouldn’t capture the poor. People manufacturing liquor & carrying on liquor trade should be caught,” Kumar said.
The chief minister also said, “I am ready to give Rs 1 lakh each to people to start their own work. We’ll raise the amount if needed, but nobody should get involved in the liquor business.”
“Last time, when people died due to spurious liquor, someone said they should be compensated. If someone consumes spurious liquor, they’ll die – an example is before us. This should be condoled, those places should be visited and people should be explained about the fallout of their action,” Nitish Kumar said.
After the first death late Tuesday in a Chhapra hospital, the toll has reached 39 on Thursday. In its wake, Masrakh Station House Officer (SHO) Ritesh Mishra and Constable Vikesh Tiwari were suspended on the recommendation of Marhaura Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Yogendra Kumar.
Bihar Excise Minister Sunil Kumar on Wednesday vowed strict action against culprits responsible for deaths. “Process of filling an FIR is underway. I have spoken over the phone with SP,” Sunil Kumar said.
The sale and consumption of alcohol were banned in Bihar by the Nitish Kumar government in April 2016. Hours after the first few deaths were reported from Chhapra, the opposition on Wednesday attacked the Bihar Chief Minister in the state assembly leading to Nitish Kumar losing his cool and screaming back at the BJP leaders.
The Janata Dal-United chief slammed the BJP for protesting the deaths as Leader of Opposition Vijay Kumar Sinha questioned the state’s liquor ban policy since 2016.
Nitish Kumar lost his temper in the House and screamed at the BJP MLAs ”Sharabi ho gaye ho tum… (you are drunk)” Protesting against the incident, Bihar opposition lawmakers also staged a demonstration outside the state assembly later.