At least 16 people have lost their lives and over 48 have been hospitalized after consuming spurious alcohol in Bihar's Motihari district. The tragedy occurred in various villages such as Lakshmipur, Paharpur, and Harsiddhi, where alcohol has been banned since 2016. The death toll is expected to rise further as most of those hospitalized are in critical condition.
The incident was first reported on April 15 in Lakshmipur. Local news reported that 12 others have also complained of serious health issues and were rushed to a hospital. According to local media reports, a special team of the Prohibition Unit from Patna has been deployed to Motihari to investigate the matter. The team consists of five police officers, two DSPs and three inspectors.
Seven persons have been detained by the police as part of the investigation into the incident, a Bihar police headquarters statement said. The deceased have been identified as Tuntun Singh (35), Bhutan Manjhi (40), Chotu Paswan (25) and Ashok Paswan (45), the police said.
In response to the incident, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said, "It is a sad incident. I have asked for all information on it."
In 2016, the state government enacted the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, after massive protests by women and social activists to ban all types of alcohol in the state. However, cases of illicit liquor consumption have been surging in the state. The opposition parties have been urging Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to ease the draconian liquor rule.
The state leader has remained steadfast in his resolve as he had propelled to electoral victory in 2015 by promising to ban booze in the state. It is believed that the votes of the women, who pressed Kumar to bring the rule, were the deciding factor for his JD(U) party in clinching the state polls.
The district police are investigating the matter and trying to ascertain those involved in the illegal liquor trade. Excise department officials are also probing the incident, the Bihar police report said.
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