India is a land of idiosyncrasies. We have an enormously diverse culture, blessed with a major human resource and tremendous with development. My heart gushes with pride whenever I hear this.
And then comes in, Nitish Kumar with his BPEB Bill.
I can’t help but think how Nitish Kumar’s newest proposal to The Bihar Prohibition Bill makes me feel downright appalled. The highlight of the bill – wife’s imprisonment in case of husband’s inebriety took a huge spotlight. Adhering to that, Bihar now joins Gujarat as a dry state. Here’s a quick lowdown for you:
BIHAR PROHIBITION AND EXCISE BILL (BPEB 2016)
Nitish Kumar who catapulted to power back in November’2015 had included complete ban on liquor sale as well as consumption as one of his prime agendas during his election campaigning. He simultaneously brought the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Bill (BPEB 2016) in action from April’2016.
- First came in, The Bihar Excise Act 2016 (an amendment to The Bihar Excise 1915 act) that came into force on April 1
The act prescribed stern improvements such as death penalty for the manufacturers, suppliers and sellers of hooch in case of death as a result of consumption of spurious liquor.
It banned the manufacture, transport, sale and consumption of country liquor and restricted the sale of non-country or ‘Indian Made Foreign Liquor’ (IMFL) to mere 655 outlets of the Bihar.
- Within five days of passing of The Bihar Excise Act 2016, Mr. Kumar pulled another surprising move
With only four nights passed, the government announced further tightening of the ban, extending it to Indian Made Foreign Liquor immediately. This extension of the ban made possession of any kind of liquor in the state as illegal, rendering it similar to Gujarat.
- Even after four months, Nitish Kumar probably hadn’t fully established a Dry Bihar and hence, came in The Bihar Prohibition and Excise Bill (BPEB, 2016)
Comprised of one of the most stringent liquor laws in the country The Bihar Excise Act 2016 would ultimately cease to exist due to replacement by a more severe and draconian bill under progress. According to BPEB, imprisonment of all adult members of a family is bounded, even women, if any kind of intoxicant, which includes alcohol, hemp (ganja/bhaang) and toddy, is found in a house.
SOME VETERAN POLITICS AT DISPLAY
The irony of the situation is that in 2007, Nitish Kumar was seen promoting a liquor policy that made availability of liquor rather easy in villages as well. Number of liquor shops in rural areas tripled within seven years of instating the excise policy. Liquor became a major source of revenue for Bihar during that time.
But since, Kumar’s win in 2015 Vidhan Sabha elections relied heavily on his decision of 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayats, he decided to follow up on their persistent demands of state wide ban on liquor. Fulfilling his promise right when he ascended to power spoke miles about the Chief Minister’s character.
While the idea of dry state might be the best thing that could happen to Bihar right now, considering the rapid increase in the number of cases of hooch tragedies, the severe transformation of the law to the point of absolutism seems quite unfair. Not to mention the immense power it lands in the hands of the officials who’d be the executors of this ludicrous law. It’s an absolute travesty to think that family members might be abetters to one’s drinking habits and are liable for the same sentence. It’s no surprise that an underground bootlegging of alcohol will quickly flourish in Bihar, given the state’s history.
The absolute ban on liquor is actually just modern way of government feeding the selective democratic rights to its people.
If you liked reading this, you might wanna check out: Please Stop Painting All Biharis With The Same Brush: Rants Of A Bihari
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.