Al­co­hol emer­gency in ‘to­tal­i­tar­ian’ Bi­har

Drink­ing at home will re­sult in the whole fam­ily be­ing ar­rested.

The Sunday Guardian - - Front Page - ABHINANDAN MISHRA NEW DELHI

Not in­form­ing the po­lice about one’s neigh­bour stor­ing or con­sum­ing liquor in his/her house will land one in jail in Bi­har. Apart from this, all the adult mem­bers of a fam­ily will be ar­rested if one mem­ber is found to be drink­ing at home. All this is set to be­come law in Bi­har from Tues­day un­der Chief Min­is­ter Ni­tish Ku­mar’s gov­ern­ment. The “ban” is also ap­pli­ca­ble to toddy and bhang (ed­i­ble cannabis). Ever since pro­hi­bi­tion has been im­posed in Bi­har in April, an es­ti­mated 10,000 peo­ple have been ar­rested on the charge of vi­o­lat­ing the ban on al­co­hol.

Bi­har Ex­cise Min­is­ter Ab­dul Jalil Mas­tan told The Sun­day Guardian over phone that the state gov­ern­ment was go­ing to bring an amend­ment in the Bi­har Ex­cise (Amend­ment) Act 2016, which would make the neigh­bours ac­count­able if some­one is found to be con­sum­ing or keep­ing al­co­hol at home. Bi­har has banned the con­sump­tion and sale of al­co­hol from April this year. “We are go­ing to bring this amend­ment on 2 Au­gust and all MLAs, cut­ting across party lines, are in sup­port of this amend­ment,” said Mas­tan, a Congress MLA.

Mas­tan clar­i­fied that the neigh­bours would not face un­nec­es­sary harass­ment be­cause of this new amend­ment. “If liquor has been banned in Bi­har, then what is the logic be­hind any­one keep­ing or con­sum­ing al­co­hol? So­ci­ety has been de­cay­ing be­cause of al­co­hol and crimes are be­ing com­mit­ted un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol. If the law is not

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