Nitish-Opposition exchange barbs after hooch kills 20 in 'dry' Bihar
At least 20 people reportedly died after consuming spurious liquor in a hooch tragedy in Bihar's Saran district. Scores of other people have reportedly been hospitalized for some days after their condition deteriorated allegedly due to the consumption of hooch. Meanwhile, the Opposition created a ruckus in the state legislature over the incident, after which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar lost his cool. Here's more.
Why does this story matter?
- Bihar placed a complete ban on the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks in the state in 2016.
- Nevertheless, since November 2021, Bihar has reported a series of hooch-related tragedies in which over sixty people have died.
- Such incidents have questioned the very rationale behind liquor bans since they encourage the illicit trade of low-quality, harmful liquor.
Most of the victims die in government hospital
At least 20 people died allegedly after consuming toxic liquor in Chhapra in Saran district on Wednesday, India Today reported, citing the family of the deceased. Most of them died at the district hospital while others were reportedly undergoing treatment in a private hospital. Meanwhile, the police started the investigation and sent the bodies for post-mortem to ascertain the cause of death, per NDTV.
Liquor ban complete failure: BJP
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held protests outside the Assembly over the incident. The party alleged that there had been a "nexus" between police and illicit liquor traders. "We have always supported the ban on liquor, even when it was introduced while we were in Opposition. But its implementation has been a complete failure," former deputy CM Tarkishor Prasad said.
CM loses cool, BJP corners government
Meanwhile, Kumar lost his temper during a debate in the Assembly over the incident. "Kya ho Gaya, jehrili sharab, halla kar rahe ho tum log," he said. Several issues were being discussed, including the Chhapra hooch tragedy and the lathi charge on job seekers in Patna. Kumar accused the BJP of creating the scene, prompting its members to stage a walkout from the house.
Opposition slams Bihar CM Nitish Kumar
Local BJP leader and MLA Janak Singh blamed the fatalities on the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government, claiming that the Chief Minister is doing nothing while liquor deaths continue. "I want to ask you how many such officials have been probed under whose watch such incidents are happening?" he asked. "You have no right to be in power for even a minute," he said.
Second incident in four months
In August, eleven people died and 12 became extremely ill, with several of them losing their sight, after consuming shady liquor in the same district. So far, five people have been arrested in the case while some policemen have also been suspended. Notably, some neighborhoods in Bihar still have a custom of drinking liquor during the Hindu calendar month of Shravan.