It’s been a little over more than a year that Bihar decided to end its tryst with alcohol.
Dry and desperate, the state scrambled hard to come face-to-face with reality of the ban especially at a time when Nitish Kumar inspired them like this.
What an alternative, Sir ji!
Such big positive change has come in, why ruin it for a peg or two? Turn off the lights & drink juice, you will feel its the same: Bihar CM— ANI (@ANI_news) September 13, 2016
But ever since the ban came into force, Bihar has been witnessing bizarre outcomes of it. Here’s a look:
Forget alcohol lovers, the paucity of alcohol has hit TB diagnosis in the state
The ban on liquor in Bihar has taken a toll on the diagnosis of tuberculosis in the state. Diagnosis of TB at peripheral levels is performed primarily by smear microscopy which requires absolute alcohol.
Spirit is also needed for lamps used for making smears. Cleaning of plungers of the CBNAAT, as part of monthly maintenance also requires alcohol. Further, freshly prepared 70 per cent alcohol is also required at all levels for surface disinfection.
This has prompted the Union health ministry to write to the state health department seeking special exemption for procuring and using alcohol and spirit for uninterrupted diagnostic services.
Secret code words to get alcohol!
Meanwhile, alcohol lovers still haven’t completely given up. Enter: The great Indian jugaad which alcohol-crazed Biharis shamelessly deployed to get high.
Illegal alcohol traders are using this with a unique way to provide booze to those who want it. All you need to know are the secret code words for liqour, says this Deccan Herald report.
Want IMFL (Indian made foreign liquor), just whisper ‘Jehangir’.
Want a large bottle of alcohol, just ask for ‘one litre of milk’. Apart from Jehangir, there is also ‘Fakruddin’, (code word for the banned Corex cough syrup, which is widely used as intoxicant)
Police also revealed that country-made liquor is called “Ghafoor” and ‘Nepal’ is the code word for booze at Jogbani and Forbesganj. Other code words used are ‘Fruity’ for IMFL tetrapacks, ‘chota syrup’ means a small bottle and ‘bada syrup’ means a large bottle.
Liquor bottles hidden inside watermelons
On May 8 this year, Bihar police was stunned to find small liquor pouches hidden inside watermelons which were being transported from Bokaro in Jharkhand to Mokama in Patna.
Bootleggers had carefully scooped out of the outer flesh to make space for the pouches, says this Telegraph report.
Claims that rats drank all the seized alcohol
Just a few days before that, Bihar police made startling claim that it is the rats that have finished off all the alcohol, which the police had seized from people flouting prohibition laws in the state.
The fact that rodents were making merry came to light following reports that they had overrun the ”Malkhana” (store) of the police stations and had guzzled down a large amount of the more than 9 lakh litres of alcohbol seized by the police!
Udta Bihar? Drug addiction on the rise
With alcohol gone, people are turning to other alternatives thereby and the result is a steep rise in drug addiction cases.
De-addiction centres in Bihar which were meant to cure people of their alcohol addiction started seeing a big jump in cases of substance abuse, ranging from cannabis, inhalants, sedatives to opioids.
Pratibha Singh, a senior psychiatrist working for a private deaddiction centre in Patna, told Asian Age, “In rural areas, men who used to spend on liquor are now smoking marijuana in groups and that doesn’t hit their pocket at all. This is where the government’s calculation failed.”
While these jugaads are keeping a section of people buzzed, there are other crazy things that have happened in the state so far vis-a-vis the ban:
More and more draconian rules came into place
The sudden ban on April 1 last year, for many, was hard to deal with. But seems CM Nitish Kumar was not satisfied, so he gave the word ‘ban’ a whole new meaning by incorporating absolutely absurd provisions into the fold.
In July last year, his cabinet cleared a new bill that says that every adult in a household where liquor is found can go to jail for 10 years, without prospect of bail.
The government also announced that it can now prosecute a woman if her husband secretly consumes alcohol — even without her knowing it!
That was not it! Taking the ban a little too far, in February this year, CM prohibited state bureaucrats and judicial officers from consuming liquor not just in Bihar, but in ANY part of the world.
Gods and lords went thirsty
Many temples in the state mandatorily offer liquor to the gods. After total prohibition, shrines of Dak Baba, Masan Baba, Goraiya Baba, Dihwal Baba, Naukha Baba, and Bhairav, revered by the Dalit and Mahadalit communities went virtually dry.
Anant Marathe, the priest of Godawari Mohalla Bhairav Sthan temple told HT, “Our God Kapal Bhairav accepts only liquor as his first bhog. But after the ban about 40% of the devotees have chosen to stay away.”
Jails failed to accommodate people breaking rules
Given such strict rules, we saw it coming.
The state arrested nearly 35,000 people under the new liquor law and as a result, the jails are now overflowing with prisoners. The government is mulling capacity expansion of prisons to accommodate overflow of tipplers.