At least seven people have died and 15 others fallen ill, some of them losing their eyesight, in yet another suspected case of hooch tragedy in dry Bihar, officials said on Friday. According to Rajesh Meena, the District Magistrate of Saran, all cases have been reported from villages falling under the Maker police station area.
“Prima facie, it appears that the villagers had consumed spurious liquor. Five people died here while two deaths occurred at Patna Medical College and Hospital where those who have fallen seriously ill were referred on Thursday, he said. Among the seriously ill, more than 10 people have suffered loss of vision, the DM said.
Saran Superintendent of Police Santosh Kumar said, “We are conducting raids in Maker, Marhaura and Bheldi police station areas to nab the suspected bootleggers. We will be able to state the number of arrests after the operation is over.”
Local residents said consumption of intoxicants like cannabis has been a custom for the festival of Nag Panchami, which fell earlier this week, though some took to alcohol to get high.
More than 50 people have died in hooch tragedies in the state since November last year. Saran had reported five hooch deaths in January this year. Last month, two persons had died after consuming spurious liquor in the state capital.
Sale and consumption of liquor were completely banned in Bihar by the Nitish Kumar government in April, 2016, following an electoral promise the chief minister had made to the state’s women ahead of assembly polls held in the previous year.
However, implementation of the stringent prohibition law has often been criticised by the opposition parties, the courts and also ruling alliance partners like former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.