PATNA : At Patna railway station, police don’t check baggage for alcohol, but Hindi newspapers are full of reports about how serious Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is about the liquor ban.
In the Rajdhani Express, prohibition in the state is being discussed. “Nitish is an opportunist,” says Madan Choubey, a retired Colonel. “He joined hands with Lalu, his arch rival, only to be in power. Prohibition was introduced because Nitish aspires to become a national leader.” Like others in the carriage, the colonel believes prohibition law is draconian.
“You cannot take action against an entire family if liquor is consumed by one individual. The administration is penalising entire villages even if a few families are manufacturing and selling liquor it.
Are we living in a democracy?” Army personnel are not being spared. “Army men work in tough conditions. Liquor is allowed only in the Danapur (in Patna) cantonment. They are arresting Army personnel. This cannot be tolerated,” says the Colonel, a teetotaller.
Sobering Effect, Claim Cops
Ever since the dry law came into force on April 1, 35 jawans have been caught drunk or carrying liquor.
Excise officials say Army personnel can be exempted. While the Army may be miffed, others—especially women—believe that prohibition has bettered their lives. “Men do not come home drunk anymore and everything is peaceful at home.
Earlier, my husband would get drunk, quarrel and beat me up. Our children used to be terrified. All that has stopped now,” says Reema in a Patna hotel. Has crime come down due to prohibition? “Yes, it has,” says Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj.
“Crimes against women, murder, dacoities, riots and accidents have come down due to non-availability of liquor.” The police’s priority is to enforce the ban.
“Liquor has a direct impact on crime. We see a major impact of prohibition in Patna and elsewhere,” he adds. His guesstimate is that crime is down by 30 per cent. Actual stats with the police are more modest