Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday bristled at questions being raised against his highly-touted alcohol prohibition drive following some recent instances of violation of the liquor ban.
Addressing a function in Patna as part of Bihar Police Week-2021, Nitish Kumar also noted with concern the attack by liquor smugglers on a police party in Sitamarhi district, which claimed the life of a sub-inspector.
He stressed that a full-fledged team should be constituted to conduct anti-liquor drives instead of “ikka-dukka” (one or two) police personnel carrying out such raids.
He also reiterated that stern action will be taken against police and excise department officials if they are found to be violating the prohibition themselves or lax in enforcing the ban that came into force nearly five years ago.
“Altogether 619 personnel and officials are facing departmental action on these counts. FIRs have been lodged against 348, while 186 have been dismissed from service,” Mr Kumar said.
In an indirect reference to doubts cast on submissions by leaders of the Congress-RJD combine in the assembly, recently, over the efficacy of imposing a ban on sale and consumption of liquor, the Chief Minister said, “There are always some instances of transgression. But on this very basis, some people have started questioning the huge step we took.”
Asserting that the ban on alcohol was in the interests of society, he invoked Mahatma Gandhi and cited studies conducted by the WHO to highlight the ill effects of liquor consumption.
Defending the stringency of the law which brooks no exceptions, the Chief Minister also dismissed as “bogus” the demand, from some quarters, for leniency towards declared alcoholics.
“They can go to de-addiction centres” was the curt remark from Nitish Kumar who also recalled the promise made by him to the state’s women ahead of the 2015 assembly polls which led him to the drastic move upon return to power.
Nitish Kumar also spoke about his commitment to improve the police force and pointed towards the personnel now getting better training and equipment, in addition to the improved gender ratio that has followed his government’s decision to provide 35 per cent reservations to women.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)