A day after The Indian Express reported that Bihar’s marginalised sections were bearing the brunt of the prohibition crackdown, Opposition leaders criticised the state government for “bringing a law that has ended up targeting Dalits and the poor — not the big fish”.
Leader of Opposition, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, described the liquor law as “a tool to harass the poor”. Mahadalit leader and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi alleged that “the numbers show the real truth about the law”.
On Tuesday, the ruling JD(U)-BJP combine said that while the findings need to be discussed with social scientists, prohibition has led to “social transformation and empowerment of women”. Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Modi said that the “poor and Dalits are the main beneficiaries of the law”.
“We demand a complete overhauling of the law,” said Manjhi, who was part of the JD(U) before breaking away to form the Hindustani Awam Morcha.
Tejashwi alleged that the “sole purpose of prohibition is to incarcerate people from marginalised communities”. “A new mafia has come up due to a nexus between the political class and the administration… Why is it that even after two years of prohibition, no big mafia has been arrested?” he said.
JD(U)’s national spokesperson and principal general secretary K C Tyagi acknowledged that the number of accused from the weaker sections was a “matter of concern”. “The government needs to discuss this with social scientists to find a way out,” said Tyagi.
Sushil Kumar Modi said: “Prohibition has cut down domestic violence and improved the quality of life. As for more number of people from OBC, EBC and SC being booked under the liquor law, the law deals sternly with offenders irrespective of their social profile.”