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Posted: Friday, 05 October 2018 07:18

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Blog: Prohibition in Bihar doing well- almost

Oct 05: The politicians of Bihar say with a straight face that the Prohibition enacted in the State on April 5, 2016 has been operating very successfully but in fact, strange cases of missing alcohol where police is suspected to be involved are coming to the fore, with the first case involving a possible smuggling big racket by or with the connivance of police and in other cases instances of missing seized alcohol where the blame is conveniently placed on rodents in the cells consuming big amounts of misplaced liquor

When Bihar went dry on April 5, 2016 I was invited by a national TV Hindi Chanel in their studios to express my opinion about prohibition. Although I am a strong anti-alcohol (my motto is that wine is not alcohol-it has some) lobbyist but promoting wine as a food product substitute, I have always been anti-prohibition for the simple reason that it never works in real life- be it Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana and now Bihar. Those who drink wine are addicts who need their daily fix and the government needs to bring swacchta (cleanliness) in their minds and propagate ill-effects of alcohol and provide cure in the hospitals rather than simply try for them to kick the habit. One has seen it in the cigarette industry!! The addicts need their daily fix and would do anything to get it, at any cost.

Cops caught smuggling liquor

Visualize for a moment a movie scene shot in one of the Indian states where prohibition has been in full swing, ostensibly working very well. A subs-inspector (SI) and his assistant sub-inspector (ASI) drive into a police station in an empty pick-up truck. After some time it leaves the premises unobtrusively. But wait, there is an informant in the plot who has passed on the information based on which the truck is intercepted after a bit of a chase-a la Bollywood. The cops are forced to stop and the pickup truck is found to be full of smuggles liquor picked up from the police station.

A scene from a Bollywood movie? Perhaps inspired but it’s not a reel life case but a real life story that happened between the night of 30 September and 1 October, a day before Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on October 2.  Mahatma was one of the architects of Indian Constitution and a strong promoter of prohibition. In fact, he was one of the handful who gave the reins of States to decide the sales and excise policy that points to prohibition.    

But in this case, how did the smuggled liquor get into the police station? Was it stored under security from a seizure or is the police station a den of smuggling activities? Before you let your imagination run wild, the two policemen have been arrested in the first of its kind incident since prohibition became effective on April 5, 2016 in Bihar. The rules became so strict that a senior bureaucrat was once reported to have been arrested to be prosecuted for 7 years jail when a bottle of importe scotch was found from his house. Many people have been crying foul and calling it a political vendetta through the archaic prohibition laws while the watchdogs make marry.

In this first reported case of its kind since enforcement of prohibition in Bihar, Gopalganj’s Baikunthpur police station SHO,  Laxmi Narayan Mahto and his sub-ordinate Sudhir Kumar were arrested from the police station premises on Wednesday for allegedly smuggling liquor from the police station premises, according to a report by TNN.

A probe team interrogated the two officers in which the received information about liquor smuggling from police station premises prima facie turned out to be true, according to the SP.

The police later also caught the driver of the pick-up van in which the smuggled liquor was loaded for smuggling and off-loaded at a place called Mashrakh where he hailed from. It was  not known yet whether the liquor smuggled from police station premises was seized item or  unreported or whether a smuggling racket was operating from the station premises.

Oh Rats! The liquor is missing

Rats are often used in experiments with various commodities including wine and alcohol to measure cause and effects.  But in Bihar, it appears they are used to feed the confiscated alcohol lest it is consumed by humans. According to a report in TOI on Thursday, 200 beer cans confiscated by police were found to be empty on Monday with neat holes on the top. The police quickly blamed the rats for drinking it all up. The SDM says, ‘it looks like the doing of rates. They were 6-7 cartons of beer and all cans were empty.” The DM also concurs. ‘ The beer cans were gnawed into by rats.’ An enquiry has been instituted.

This is not the first time rates have been blamed either. In May 2017, says the Report, several lakhs (1 lakh= 100,000) liters of alcohol that went missing in Patna, Bihar were supposedly swigged by rats.  A few cops had then reportedly told SSP that drunken rodents had gulped the booze seized.

Ordinary denizens are not so gullible to believe these stories. VS Dubey, who retired as chief secretary of undivided Bihar says, ‘Officials are either drinking or selling it and then blaming it on the rats.’

This seems credible because stories like these have been doing the rounds in Gujarat where the state has been dry for over 50 years. Many people have confirmed to delWine privately that cops can deliver you any bottle of wine, whiskey or beer to your hotel room in Gujarat if you pay the delivery charges.

More such stories are likely to come out of Bihar as the prohibition continues. Any authentic story published by  media after checking out will be reported in delWine- we are anti- alcohol (pro-wine) but sensible enough not to support complete prohibition-fully aware of the ill-effects-bodily, financially and socially. It is interesting to end the Article by mentioning that there has been practically no sale of wine in Bihar before the Prohibition.

In the meanwhile, smuggling is unabated in Bihar. For one last year’s report, read TOI:

“Prohibition gave birth to a liquor smuggling syndicate which has become monstrous in the state with a supply chain extending even up to Haryana and its roots spreading up to West Bengal, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh,” said a senior IPS officer. “Liquor smuggling is increasing with each passing day. Whatever amount of liquor is being seized is just a small part of the smuggled liquor consignments,” he added.

Please also read:

2 Bihar cops arrested for smuggling liquor from police station

Rats' drinking seized booze in dry Bihar

Liquor smuggling unabated in Bihar

Subhash Arora

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