In Bihar, where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is adopting a strict stance for strict implementation of the prohibition legislation, the chief of Hindustani Awam Morcha and former Chief Minister, Jitan Ram Manjhi claimed that in the name of prohibition, the poor are being given being harassed. He stated that it isn’t incorrect to devour alcohol as a medication. He has even stated that wealthy folks drink alcohol to a restricted degree.
Former CM and ruling NDA‘s ally HAM (S) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi on Wednesday iterated his demand for relaxation in liquor prohibition laws in Bihar. Pitching for his demand for relaxation in prohibition, Manjhi said that “there is no harm in limited consumption of liquor.”
“Even if someone will take spirit, he is sent to jail. Then, how will homeopathic medicines be made. The court and medical science also say that there is no harm in consumption of liquor in limited quantities,” Manjhi said while addressing a public meet at Bagaha on the eve of national council meeting of HAM (S) at Valmikinagar in West Champaran.
He added: “Even if we are with the government, we want to request the chief minister to amend the liquor prohibition laws to the extent I am saying. The government should carry on with liquor prohibition in this manner and we also support it,” Manjhi said.
Manjhi went on to claim that 70% of around three lakh people languishing in jail due to prohibition offenses are poor people. “Many such people are caught with a meager half bottle of liquor and they are behind bars…People offer liquor in certain rituals as well, like while making sacrifices of a few animals by tribes. Thus, relaxation should be provided for use of liquor in customary practices and manufacturing homeopathic medicines.”
The former Bihar CM said norms were already in places to regulate liquor consumption. “There was already a law of 1991 barring people from entering educational institutions, religious places, public places and even on roads after consuming alcohol. When such a law is already in place, then it should be implemented, remaining things will be in order,” he said.
Manjhi has been vocal against prohibition in the past as well. He had requested CM Nitish to reconsider liquor prohibition laws last week as well. “Though I am in support of liquor prohibition and there have been its benefits but it also has certain loopholes. For instance, big liquor mafias are not being caught and small people are being caught and harassed incessantly and cases are being lodged against them. This is the reason that Their families are facing huge financial troubles. Thus, I have a difference of opinion with Nitish ji on this issue,” Manjhi told a news channel on December 8.
He added: “The state is also suffering revenue losses due to prohibition. The hotels at tourist destinations, like Bodhgaya are facing losses as the occupancy has plunged. Even if tourists come, they go to Kolkata, Ranchi or Varanasi, which is leading to heavy losses of revenue for Bihar. Thus, I request Nitish ji to rethink on the implementation of liquor prohibition.”
Meanwhile, speaking at the public meet at Bagaha, Majhi said the SC/ST and other traditional dwellers in the forest area are being harassed and recognition of rights from forests are being denied by the state government.
“SC/ST people are also being harassed by implicating in the Excise and Prohibition Act. Our party will fight for their rights,” he said.