Petty criminals, jobless thrive on moonshine in Bihar

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(Last Updated On: September 5, 2016)

Choose the correct answer: Bihar’s no-liquor policy has 1) Shown petty criminals and unemployed new ways of making money; 2) Has led to overcrowding of jails; 3) Has made alcoholics turn to more dangerous alternatives; 4) Has driven the corporate world out of Bihar to hold their meetings; 5) All of the above.

The correct answer is all of the above. Liquor is flowing into Bihar from neighbouring Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal. Also from Nepal and Bangladesh. If sources involved in this illegal trade are to be believed it is a “low risk, high profit business.”

“What one hears of seizure and arrest is merely one per cent of the total trade,” revealed Deepak Pandey (name changed).

Pandey, 22, an unemployed youth from Manjhi in Saran district of Bihar, three km from the U.P. border, recently bought a new bike for transporting liquor bottles from U.P. every day.

“We usually avoid the main roads and cross the border through villages,” he added. Similar is the story of petty criminals of border districts who have taken to cross-border liquor trade. The silver lining: petty crimes in border districts have gone down after prohibition. Meanwhile the State Excise Department has purchased 194 motorcycles to patrol interior border areas.

 Under the new prohibition law, nearly 14,000 people have been arrested and 1.2 lakh litres of liquor seized. In August alone 4,100 people were booked. The total capacity of 58 jails in Bihar? It is 37,809. You can do the math to see when Bihar will run out of jail space. Meanwhile, some jails are mulling over creating separate wards to hold those arrested under the new liquor law.

Many now turn to injectable drugs, cough syrups, whiteners, ganja and charas, bhang, and heroin.

Earlier, when the ban on liquor was enforced reports had come that some addicts had begun eating soap bars, giving a whole new meaning to being under the influence.

“Youths are mostly turning to Fortwin (surgical anaesthetic) injections — cheap at Rs. 7 a shot. They take four-five injections every day as alternative to their liquor intake…,” an addict at Patna’s posh Boring Road area confided.

“The revenue of the hotel industry has come down by 30 per cent during the last four months”, rued a hotelier on Exhibition Road. He explained: “During the last four months no corporate meeting or big function of any company was held at my hotel. We used to have one every week earlier.” Corporates go to Kolkata or Ranchi now for these meetings.

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