Till last month, 40-year-old SK Sinha would travel five days a week by local train to reach his office, some 120 km from Patna. Now he travels six days a week. Not to complete his unfinished official assignments. But to quench his thirst.
Ever since Nitish Kumar strictly enforced imposition of prohibition in the state from 5 April this year, Sinha, like many other Bacchus (Greek god of wine) lovers, are finding out noveau ways to have a drink at a ‘safe place’. Now Sinha travels to Jasidih railway station in neighbouring Jharkhand, boards an auto for Deoghar, finishes his drink and then boards another train to return to his home sweet home in Patna.
Alcohol Sellers in Border Areas
Despite excise and police officials sniffing around, looking for drunkards in liquor-banned Bihar, Bacchus lovers are having a whale of a time at Kishanganj border which shares its border with Islampur in neighbouring West Bengal. Similar reports have poured in from Buxar and Mohania (which share the border with Uttar Pradesh), Gaya and Rajauli (which share their border with Jharkhand) and Madhubani and Champaran (bordering Nepal).
There have been reports of a quantum jump in the sale of liquor in all these border areas in neighbouring states as well as the Himalayan Kingdom.
When Nitish got wind of this modus operandi, he asked senior officials to launch a crackdown on such drunkards, who even though they were not legally violating the prohibition, were frustrating the Chief Minister’s efforts for a complete ban.
After Nitish’s diktat, patrolling in border areas has been intensified and those who consumed alcohol (even in other states) are being booked. One such case was a groom who was travelling from Punjab to West Bengal, but was found to have consumed liquor in the train passing through Bihar. He was arrested and sent to jail.
Raids on Trains
More such raids followed on Monday when the GRP and RPF raided premium trains at Patna and arrested four persons in possession of liquor.
The GRP team, led by a DSP, conducted surprise checks and arrested Dilip Shah, Rahul, Guddu and Satish for facilitating liquor consumption in trains. The raiding team recovered 15 bottles of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) from them.Jitendra Mishra, Railway SP
The tops cops were baffled to find that despite strictly enforcing the liquor ban, certain sections seem hell-bent on thwarting such move. Out of those arrested, one was a coach attendant of Rajdhani Express, while two others were part of the pantry staff of Rajdhani and Sampoorna Kranti Express respectively. The fourth one was a pantry car staff of Shramjeevi Express.
“Mind you, the liquor ban is not for few days or months. It’s forever. In fact, leaders down south too have pledged to impose prohibition if they come to power,” Nitish told a public gathering in Patna, in reference to Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi promising to ban liquor if they were voted to power.
Slump in Crime Rate
Asking his officials to use more breath-analysers to hunt down ‘drunkards’, Nitish cited figures to argue how crime has come down and accident reports have nosedived, ever since he had imposed prohibition.
Arguing that he was aware of a spurt in the number of liquor shops operating on the outskirts of Bihar, Nitish said he would take up the issue with the chief ministers of neighbouring states, besides beefing up patrolling in border areas.
“Those who enter Bihar through Raxaul will have to undergo a test to verify whether they had consumed liquor on the other side of the border,” said East Champaran DM, Vinay Kumar, adding that CCTV cameras had been installed at important locations to keep a tab on Bacchus lovers.
With more CCTVs on the remaining borders expected soon, dry days in Bihar will dampen the spirits of people like Sinha.
(The writer is a Bihar-based journalist)
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