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Seven die in Bihar in suspected hooch tragedy

Picture for representation.

Picture for representation.

Seven persons died in Saran district of Bihar late on Wednesday in a suspected case of illict liquor consumption. Though the district administration said the deceased might have died of severe cold, family members said the victims had consumed spurious liquor and died after complaining of severe headache, blurred vision and burning sensation in the stomach.

All the victims belonged to villages under Maker and Amnour police stations of Saran district.

“He had consumed illicit liquor and developed complications including burning sensations in stomach and severe headache with blurred vision on Wednesday evening. Later he died,” family members of one of the victims Ramnath Rai of Narsingh-Bhanpur village under Amnour police station told media persons.

The dead have been identified as Krishna Mahto of Parmanandpur village, Mohd. Isha of Basantpur village, Ramnath Rai of Narsingh-Bhanpur village - all under Amnour Police Station; Bihari Rai of Nandan village, Bharat Rai of Navkadha village, Pappu Singh of Tara-Amnour village - all under Maker Police station of Saran district and Anil Mistri of Siwan district.

However, the district administration insisted spurious liquor was not to blame for the deaths.

“No one has died because of consuming spurious liquor,” said Saran district magistrate Rajesh Meena. A senior police official Indrajit Baitha, who visited the villages, said, “None died due to spurious liquor; they might have died due to severe cold.... Someone might have spread rumours over the deaths.” The officials said there was no evidence.

Questioning the official denial, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) MLA from Darauli in Siwan district Satyadeo Ram, who visited victims’ families, said: “The family members admitted before me that the victims had consumed liquor and developed some body complications before they died.”

“The prohibition policy of the State government has completely failed. Now, the district administration chooses to cite wrong reasons of death, instead of consumption of illicit liquor, to save their skin,” Mr. Ram said.

The Saran incident comes less than a week after the deaths of 11 people in Chhoti Pahadi area under Sohsarai police station of Nalanda district after consuming spurious liquor. There again, the district administration had initially denied that illicit liquor was to blame for the deaths but was forced to acknowledge the same after family members of the victims insisted.

Meanwhile, hearing an anticipatory bail application filed by one Gangaram of Begusarai district, the Patna High Court on January 19 observed that the police and excise department officials in the State “seem to be working in connivance with liquor smugglers in Bihar”.

The single bench of Justice Sandeep Kumar pulled up the State police and excise department for “poor enforcement of liquor prohibition law in the State”.

Justice Kumar also directed the Excise Department Commissioner-cum-IG Registration of the State, to file a reply by January 27 on how many big liquor suppliers and traders have been nabbed so far and what is the stage of prosecution of the liquor mafias.

Under all-round criticism over failure of the prohibition laws, the Nitish Kumar government is said to be mulling relaxing the stringent provisions of the 2016 Bihar Prohibition and Excise (Amendment) Act in the upcoming Budget session of the State legislature.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 2:09:22 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/seven-die-in-bihar-in-suspected-hooch-tragedy/article38299249.ece