Saturday, March 25, 2023

‘Agar log peena hi chhodh dein…’: Bihar Minister after hooch kills 36 in Nitish Kumar’s dry state. India news

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New Delhi: As the hooch tragedy in Bihar killed 36 people in Saran district, state minister Samir Kumar Mahaseth on Wednesday (December 14, 2022) urged people to “quit” drinking. Speaking to reporters, the Industries Minister in the Nitish Kumar-led cabinet said it is a “poison” and not liquor that is being sold in the dry state. He also said that people might tolerate it if they build that strength.

“It will be good if people quit drinking… Because it is a poison that is coming here, and not liquor,” he said.

As Mahaseth was present at a sports event, he emphasized that sports can help in building the strength and immune system of the body, which can tolerate such spurious liquor.

“If you make yourself stronger by engaging in sports, you could tolerate the liquor,” said the Minister and called spurious liquor a “slow poison”.

It is notable that the sale and consumption of alcohol were completely banned in Bihar by the Nitish Kumar government in April 2016.

As per the official figure, around 170 people have lost their lives in Bihar due to spurious liquor from January to November this year.

Meanwhile, the Saran district hooch tragedy has triggered a political slugfest in Bihar with the ruling Nitish Kumar-led ‘Mahagathbandhan’ and opposition BJP trading charges. The issue has rocked the Bihar assembly, where BJP MLAs on Wednesday entered the well, raising slogans against the government and demanding compensation to family members of those who lost their lives in Saran.

In the House, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also rose in his chair angrily and stood admonishing the BJP legislators, waving fingers at them.

“You (BJP) people were in favor or not when the liquor prohibition law was implemented in Bihar. What happened now? You are doing the dirtiest work now. You are instrumental behind liquor tragedies in Bihar. I did the right thing and left you . Remove them from here. They are talking in favor of liquor. We cannot tolerate this…,” he said angrily while pointing fingers at BJP legislators.

BJP members demanded an apology from the chief minister, who was then not in his chair, and staged a walkout when the Zero Hour began.

The demand for an apology was raised by the BJP MLAs again after lunch when both the CM and Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav were present inside the House. All the opposition MLAs walked out in protest as the Speaker went ahead with the day’s business.

Outside the House, Leader of the Opposition Vijay Kumar Sinha told reporters, “The CM owes his current term in office to us (BJP) but he ditched us and joined those he had been accusing of jungle raj (RJD). In their company, he has picked up their ways, which is evident from the intimidating and insulting language he used against us on the floor of the House.”

Leader of the Opposition in Vidhan Parishad Samrat Chaudhary said, “We are appalled to learn about the behavior of the chief minister inside the assembly. He seems to have lost his moorings and should resign.”

Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav said the BJP should remember that Bihar has witnessed many hooch deaths. while it was in power.

“Many of its own leaders have also been accused of involvement in the illicit liquor trade. It should not make hypocritical noises but cooperate with the government which is making honest efforts to curb liquor consumption,” he said.

(With agency inputs)


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