With the seizure of countrymade and Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) continuing unabated despite prohibition, the Bihar government has asked police station in-charges to give a written undertaking that there is no sale, distribution and consumption of liquor in their area of jurisdiction. If liquor is seized in their areas, the police station in-charge would be immediately shifted out and would not be given posting at a police station for 10 years. There are 1,060 police stations in Bihar.
The decision was taken after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar conducted a review of the Prohibition and Excise Department on Wednesday. Even though the government had mooted this proposal earlier, it could not be implemented because of resistance from police associations. The Chief Minister said at the meeting, “I firmly believe prohibition has immensely benefited women, several of whom had been facing domestic violence, and improved the overall quality of life. There should be no laxity in implementation of Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act.”
He said the Inspector General (Prohibition) would directly monitor the implementation of the law and excise and police would conduct raids at regular intervals.
From April 4, 2016, when the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act was passed — it was later changed to Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act — till March 31, 2019, 1,16,670 cases were lodged under the Act and 1,61,415 people were arrested. From January 1 to March 31 this year, 8,344 people have been arrested and 6,251 cases registered. In the first three months of this year, 2,25,586 litres of IMFL and 98,066 litres of countrymade liquor were seized. From April 2016 to March 2019, 50,63,175 litres of countrymade liquor and IMFL have been seized.
An excise department official said, “The department is not happy with recurrent seizures of liquor from several places and reports of easy availability of IMFL from most places. We have to check the inflow of liquor from the neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Liquor traders have been finding innovative methods of bringing liquor into the state.”
Buoyed by LS show, Nitish revisits old plank
Emboldened after his party won 16 of the 17 seats it contested in the Lok Sabha polls, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar looks set to play up the prohibition card. After splitting from NDA, Nitish had made prohibition his main electoral and political plank. He is now revisiting it to score some political mileage. The JD (U) believes that the increased turnout of women voters in Lok Sabha polls could be attributed to prohibition and Bihar CM seems to be looking to further consolidate this “caste-neutral” women constituency. But the new announcement could make SHOs reluctant to conduct raids to seize liquor as it would lead to them being shunted out.
He said that police station in-charges had to be held accountable as they were at ground zero. “The fact that liquor is being seized means police station in-charges have not been doing their duty properly,” said the officer.
Bihar Police Association president Mrityunjay Kumar Singh told The Indian Express, “We will have to abide by the government order, but there is a limited number of inspectors and sub-inspectors and an ASI cannot be made in-charge of a police station. Not just the police, excise department and a devoted prohibition wing under the IG should also be made accountable.”
Asked if the warning of no police station posting for 10 years would demotivate Station House Officers (SHO), Singh said, “The department will have to think about its workability. Good work should be appreciated. But in this case, an SHO can be punished.”
Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey said, “We will soon start taking written undertakings from SHOs.”