At least 14 people died and 10 others were reported to be critical after allegedly consuming spurious liquor in past 24 hours in Bihar’s East Champaran district, police said on Saturday even as chief minister Nitish Kumar called the incident “sad”.
At least 12 people have been arrestedin connectionwith the case, said police. Under Bihar’s Excise Act, the sale and consumption of alcohol was banned in Bihar by the Nitish Kumar government in April 2016.
Confirming the incident, East Champaran superintendent of police (SP) Kantesh Kumar Mishra said: “At least 14 people allegedly died after consuming spurious liquor while 10 others are critical and are undergoing treatment at different health facilities in East Champaran district.”
“The deaths were reported from four blocks of the district namely Paharpur, Sagauli, Harshidih and Turkauliya. So far, 12 people have been arrested in connection with the case,” Mishra added.
Deputy inspector general (Champaran range) Jayant Kant said,“ During the probe, it was found that a few people had consumed liquor at Laxamipur village in Turkauliya block of East Champaran district.” He said the incident took place on Friday night and the villagers were taken ill after midnight.
The post-mortem of three people has been done and reports are awaited, the SP said, adding, further course of action will be decided accordingly..
Police identified the deceased as Ashok Paswan, Chhotu Paswan, Tuntun Singh, Bhutan Manjhi, Jata Ram and Dhrup Paswan,all residents of Paharpur block. The identity of two others is being ascertained, said police. The district administration has deployed medical teams at places from where deaths were reported.
Meanwhile, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar called the incident sad incident and said that he has asked for all information related to the incident. “It is a sad incident. I have asked for all information on it,” the CM said.
According to survivor Vinod Paswan a party was organised by Jata Ram.
“We all had gone to reap wheat crop at Babganga village, in Turkauliya block of East Champaran, after which a drinking party was thrown by Jata Ram…which turned into a terrible incident,”Paswan added.
Demanding a judicial probe into the matter, Leader of Opposition in Bihar legislative assembly Vijay Kumar Sinha said, “These incidents are happening due to half-hearted implementation of prohibition in the state and the government not being able to control it. The death due to spurious liquor in East Champaran shows the failure of the government,” said Sinha.
However, the chief minister said: “There is no dearth of alertness in our state. But the people must desist from bad habit…”
Reacting to the incident, independent MLC Afaque Ahamad and active member of non-political outfit Jan Sura alleged that Nitish Kumar-led state government was orchestrating the death of people in the state “in the name of total prohibition” in Bihar.
“It is an open secret that the liquor is being delivered at door steps on consumers’ demand even as the chief minister boasts of claiming that there is total prohibition in the state,” said Ahamad.
Meanwhile, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sanjay Jaiswal said: “The situation has gone out of the control in the state and Kumar is busy trying to become the prime ministerial candidate of the opposition parties.”
Police are yet to register a case into the incident.