Published By: Saurabh Verma
Last Updated: April 18, 2023, 23:18 IST
The BJP on Tuesday demanded that the Bihar government provide monetary compensation to people who had developed health issues after drinking spurious liquor and release those thousands languishing in jail for violating the prohibition law of the state.
The party’s statement came a day after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, making a U-turn on paying compensation to the victims of hooch tragedies in dry Bihar, announced ex gratia payment of Rs 4 lakh each to the next of kin of those who died after drinking spurious liquor since 2016 when the prohibition policy was launched.
The toll in the current hooch tragedy mounted to 31 on Tuesday, with five more people dying after consuming spurious alcohol on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday in Motihari, police said.
At least nine others are also battling for life in various private hospitals in the district.
“It is only the poor who were arrested and convicted under the prohibition law, not the mafia. There is hardly any conviction of the mafia associated with liquor smuggling cases. There has been just one conviction, while over 25,000 people, mostly poor, are in jail,” senior BJP leader Sushil Modi said.
The chief minister should grant a general amnesty and withdraw the criminal cases, he said.
“More than 3.61 lakh FIRs have been registered under the prohibition law since 2016, mostly for the consumption of liquor. These FIRs should be withdrawn. We believe that 500 people have so far died in the state in different hooch incidents since 2016. Compensation of Rs 4 lakh should be given to the family members of all those 500 people,” Modi said.
On the U-turn of the Nitish Kumar government over compensation to hooch victims, the former deputy chief minister said it happened because of the BJP which has been demanding compensation for the family members of hooch victims right from the beginning.
Modi said that the chief minister must also look at the plight of others who did not die after drinking spurious alcohol but suffered various health issues such as loss of eyesight.
He also recalled the observations of former Chief Justice of India NV Ramana who described the prohibition law as an example of “lack of foresight” while drafting the legislation.
Meanwhile, the administration has served notices to seven officials of the prohibition department, seeking explanations from them in connection with the hooch incident in Motihari district.
Station House Officers of Turkauliya, Harsiddhi, Sugauli, Raghunathpur and Paharpur in Motihari, where deaths of people after allegedly consuming illicit liquor were first reported on April 15, were suspended for dereliction of duty, an official said.
Besides, disciplinary actions have already been taken against 11 more police personnel, including nine ‘chowkidars’.
Huge quantities of spurious liquor and other related chemicals have been seized during searches at more than 600 places in different parts of Motihari since April 15.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)