Motihari: In yet another major hooch tragedy in West Champaran district of Bihar, 22 people died and 12 persons have been admitted at Muzaffarpur and Motihari Sadar hospitals.
Villagers admitted they had consumed liquor manufactured locally after harvesting of wheat crops. Police have arrested seven people, according to Champaran range DIG Jayant Kant.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed regret over the tragedy and said he has asked the district magistrate to send a detailed report. A medical team has been sent to Lakshmipur village in Motihari sub-division, where 11 people died.
Those admitted in the hospital said they had consumed "local liquor" supplied by Jara Ram of the same village. According to officials in the Excise and Prohibition department, five lakh people had been arrested since 2016, when prohibition was imposed in Bihar. However, conviction rate is not even 1 per cent, they said.
Earlier in January, five people died due to consuming spurious liquor in the Bala village in Lakari Nabiganj of Siwan district, a District Magistrate official said. Police said 16 persons have been arrested so far in connection with the Siwan Hooch tragedy.
Notably, the incident came to light days after the Bihar Police recovered illicit liquor bottles hidden in a gutter in Danapur on December 21 last year. Since the deaths due to spurious liquor have come to the fore, the district administration has started running camps in the village.
Previously in December last year, spurious liquor claimed the lives of over 50 people in Chhapra and at least five people died after allegedly consuming hooch in the adjoining Siwan district. Angry family members of the deceased had obstructed the Siwan-Chapra Malmalia main road and undertook a protest. The bodies of the deceased were transported to Sadar Hospital in Siwan.
The deaths also caused an uproar both at the state and national levels with opposition leaders attacking the Chief Minister over the deaths and he, in turn, reiterating in the assembly "piyoge to maroge".
Dry state Bihar
The sale and consumption of alcohol was banned in Bihar CM Nitish Kumar -led govt in April 2016. However, incidents of smuggling of liquor continue to be reported from the state notwithstanding the ongoing drive against bootleggers.