A decision was taken to strengthen the intelligence network and take stringent action against police officers if illegal liquor is seized in their jurisdiction at a seven-hour review meeting on prohibition by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with his Cabinet Ministers and other top officials on Tuesday.
Besides a vigorous campaign on prohibition in the State, police and Excise and Prohibition Department officials would also launch a special drive against the reports of home delivery of liquor in Patna, said officials.
“In our meeting today, it was decided to strengthen the intelligence network and take strong action against officers under whose jurisdiction illegal liquor is seized. If the central team from Patna conducts raid and seizes illegal liquor from a place, the concerned inspector of the police station and the chowkidar [watchman] will be suspended immediately,” Director-General of Police (DGP) S.K. Singhal told presspersons after the meeting. Principal Home Secretary Chaitanya Prasad and other Home Department officials were also present.
The DGP also said the police headquarter would review prohibition in the State every alternate day, while District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police would hold review meetings every 15 days. He said action had been taken against police officers and Excise and Prohibition Department officials who were found violating prohibition laws. “As many as 206 police officers and chowkidars were suspended, and 324 cases were lodged against them in the State,” the official said.
“It has also been decided to build trust between the officials and the people, and not to reveal the names of those who give us input on the liquor trade or its consumption in their area,” Mr. Singhal added.
“It was also decided that the primary duty of the police and Excise officials should not be diluted while enforcing prohibition laws in the State,” he said.
The officials also cited data and figures on how many people were arrested, how much liquor had been seized and the action taken against police and Excise officials in the State under prohibition laws.
“We’ve been taking action under prohibition laws, but now actionable intelligence will be strengthened to make the laws more effective,” added the DGP.
The high-level review meeting by the Chief Minister was taken after the death of over 40 people in different districts of the State recently. Since April 2016 when prohibition laws were enforced in the State, over 100 people had died after consuming spurious liquor.
Ahead of the meeting, Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav had asked the Chief Minister about the number of such review meetings that he had convened since prohibition was imposed in the State in 2016.
He also sought to know the “positive outcomes” of such review meetings. “The Nitish Kumar Government has arrested lakhs of economically backward and Dalits under the prohibition laws. But the actual liquor mafias are still beyond the Government’s reach. Can the Government provide data on how many mafias, liquor traders and police officers have been sent to jail?” Mr. Yadav asked.
“How many Janata Dal (United) [JD-U] leaders and police officials consume liquor in the State?” he added.
RJD leader and Rajya Sabha member Manoj Jha also criticised the review meetings. “The Chief Minister is lying and misleading the people as he has no control over his Ministers and officials. If Mr. Kumar looks at the data of the National Crime Record Bureau [NCRB], he will know the crime rate in Bihar. With 43 seats [in the State Assembly], Mr. Kumar today is incapable of governing the State,” Mr. Jha said.