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Alcohol Addicts Who Live Happily in Nitish Kumar's Liquor-free Bihar

The awareness regarding the ban is unprecedented, with instances, where women called up police to get their drunk husbands and fathers arrested, seeing the light of the day.

Prabhakar Kumar | CNN-News18prabhakar007

Updated:April 5, 2017, 8:45 PM IST
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Alcohol Addicts Who Live Happily in Nitish Kumar's Liquor-free Bihar
Picture for Representation. (File Photo/AFP) Representative image)

Patna: Rupa Devi, for the first time, is seeing the sober side of her son, Arun, and living in a happy family. Her son now brings Rs 200 every day, and, more importantly, doesn't return drunk. Rupa lost her husband and elder son, who were addicted to alcohol.

Even Arun was an alcohol addict, before Nitish Kumar's ban on liquor forced him to quit drinking, helping him lead a normal life now. Arun now plies cycle-rickshaw on Gaya-Wajirganj road, ferrying passengers to local bus stands.

Not too far from Rupa Devi’s home, lives Gyani, in adjacent Aurangabad district. He, also, owes his new life to Nitish Kumar. Gyani, who was once a mid-sized farmer, is a landless farmer now. All because of his drinking habits. He would his day with a few extra-large pegs, continuing until he went to bed.

An abusive husband and an irresponsible father, he had all the traits to earn everyone’s hate and anger. Three acres of land that he owned was sold to just to fulfill his drinking habits. On Wednesday, a year after Nitish imposed a ban on liquor sale in Bihar, Gyani’s life is back on track, not cosy though. He, along with his son, works in the fields of other farmers, making decent money. His life and liver both are safe now.

The liquor ban in Bihar has given a new lease of life to numerous alcohol addicts, scattered all over Bihar. Nitish's ban on liquor stirred a revolution of sorts, making people concede that if they can't give up drinking, Bihar is not a state for them

The awareness regarding the ban is unprecedented, with instances, where women called up police to get their drunk husbands and fathers arrested, seeing the light of the day.

Now, it’s the bootlegging that Nitish has to fight on a regular basis. In just one year, 45,000 people have been arrested for violating liquor ban. The drop in state’s revenue is also one of the big challenges to ponder upon.

Though the revenue collection has fallen sharply, Nitish is ready to take this blow as long as money, earlier spent on liquor, is saved, and used for useful products such as milk, milk products, sweets, sewing machines, electrical goods, vehicles and furniture had increased, post-prohibition.

A year since Bihar became a 100% dry state, debates over whether or not it was possible to keep a state, as large as Bihar, free of liquor surfaced? Whether laws Nitish Kumar has put in place are draconian or not? Is it in violation of one’s freedom of choice to not allow even a single drop of alcohol?

Debates on the streets, in the courtrooms, everywhere, but the outcome was exactly what Nitish wanted. Bihar remained a dry state. Courts refused to intervene and rather, appreciated the move. Above all, the ban elated women across Bihar. The biggest challenge, though, is to counter the nexus, comprising criminals, officials, and politicians, which is keeping the illicit liquor trade alive.

A year later, the roadmap is clear. For Nitish, the ban is beyond debates. He, perhaps, knows no political party would criticise the move vociferously or speak in favour of the "liquor lobby". As 2019 nears, Nitish is expected to move beyond the territorial boundaries of Bihar, taking his "prohibition wand" to the far corners of India.

| Edited by: Swati Sharma
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