Patna: In the middle of a crucial assembly election, the liquor ban is turning out to be a controversial issue in Bihar.
On Friday, former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi said that the law needs a review since a large number of innocent people are facing its consequences and serving jail terms.
“A large number of people — mostly Dalits and Mahadalits — are serving prison terms after they were either caught consuming liquor or transporting it. The law is anti-poor,” Manjhi said.
“The implementation of this law at the ground level is not proper. The police and excise department nab people from poor socio-economic backgrounds even as there is no crackdown on the liquor mafia,” alleged Manjhi.
“If our government came to power, a review will be done of those cases in which poor people were caught by the police,” he further said.
Manjhi is contesting from Imamganj in Arwal district.
His statement has created a headache for Nitish Kumar who considers the enforcement of prohibition as one of his biggest achievements.
HAM is alliance partner of the NDA and the JD-U has given seven seats from its own quota in this election.
Kumar is the one who brought into the NDA fold after its departure from the Mahagathbandhan in August.
Earlier, the Congress, the LJP and the NCP have also raised the poor implementation of the liquor law on various forums.
Due to the lack of jobs, a large number of youth joined liquor smuggling. Many of them are first-timers caught by the police. As per reports, around 3 lakh youth have been booked under this law and their families are in a precarious situation.
“The Nitish government has forced the youth of Bihar into liquor smuggling. It was implemented without any fool-proof planning. As a result, it has many loopholes with there is no monitoring body on keep tabs on policemen at the ground level. They are misusing it and nabbing only those youth who belong to marginalised sections,” added actor-turned-politician Sudip Pandey, star campaigner of the NCP.