Battling criticism over repeated hooch tragedies in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar yesterday said that the state government cannot be made liable for providing relief to people who die after consuming toxic liquor.
Mr Kumar said people consume hooch despite knowing that liquor consumption is harmful, and thus, they are responsible for the consequences, not the state government.
“It’s their fault. They consume liquor even after knowing that it could be toxic,” he said.
The Chief Minister said even Mahatma Gandhi opposed liquor consumption and those who go against his principles are “Mahapaapi.”. “I don’t consider these people Indians.”
Mr Kumar made the remarks after the Bihar Assembly yesterday introduced and passed an amendment bill that seeks to make the liquor ban less stringent for first-time offenders in the state.
शराब पीने वाले @NitishKumar के अनुसार हिंदुस्तानी नहीं और वो महापापी और महाअयोग्य और उनके लिए कोई सहानुभूति नहीं @ndtvindia @Anurag_Dwary pic.twitter.com/bfTB4YU28w
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He was responding to the Opposition’s allegations that hooch tragedies were continuing in Bihar because the state government failed to implement the liquor ban effectively.
After the Bihar Prohibition and Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2022, gets the Governor’s approval, first-time offenders will get bail from the duty magistrate after depositing a fine. However, if the person fails to pay it, he or she is liable to face a one-month jail term.
The chief minister has come under attack from both alliance partner BJP and opposition RJD following hooch tragedies in the state that claimed more than 60 lives in the last six months of 2021.
The Opposition has maintained that the ban on liquor remained only on paper, while the BJP had alleged that officers are not strictly enforcing the prohibition law and are using it to extort money from people.
The Supreme Court had also remarked last year that the liquor law was impacting the functioning of the judiciary in Bihar with 14-15 Patna High Court Judges only hearing the bail pleas relating to arrests made under the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act.