Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday called for public shaming of those flouting liquor ban in the state while hardening his stance against relaxing the stringent prohibition law for those coming to the dry state from elsewhere.
Addressing a gathering of women’s self help groups “Jeevika” in Patna adjoining Uttar Pradesh, Mr Kumar said “don’t come to Bihar if you find the ban inconvenient”.
Reiterating that relaxing the ban for visitors from outside was out of question, the Chief Minister claimed his decision to impose prohibition was admired widely and he was invited by advocacy groups in UP and Jharkhand to share his experience after he took the step in 2016.
“But despite our best intentions, there will always be some mischief mongers…..I urge all of you present here if you find anybody flouting prohibition in your village, report the matter to police but also take out a demonstration and raise slogans”, said the Chief Minister, amidst applause.
He said the police had been asked to protect those who blew the whistle and sought to put wrongdoers to shame.
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi to stress that drinking was a “social evil”, Kumar quoted from a WHO report to underscore health hazards that were directly associated with drinking.
He also disclosed the low esteem in which he held those who drank, no matter how “kaabil” (accomplished) they were presumed to be.
The Bihar Chief Minister is on a statewide social reform campaign launched last week to galvanize public opinion against drinking, dowry, and child marriage.
His government has been under fire since hooch tragedies around Deepawali claimed more than 40 lives, putting a question mark on the efficacy of the liquor ban.
Stern warning to police officials against laxity led to overkill by men in uniform who have ended up conducting searches at wedding parties and rounding up visitors who carried liquor bottles, unaware of the prohibition law.
The Chief Minister also held forth on the ill-effects of child marriage on the physical and mental well-being of girls and asked people of the state to follow his example in discouraging dowry.
“As a matter of principle, I have stopped accepting wedding invitations wherein the card does not declare that the marriage will take place sans any dowry. You should do the same in your social circle. You will see a change”, he added.