04/07/2016 8:28 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST

Did Nitish's Booze Ban Lead To 27% Fall In Bihar Crime Rate?

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
GREATER NOIDA, INDIA - JUNE 29: Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar addresses a rally in which he lambasted on the central and state government demanding liquor ban at Jewar on June 29, 2016 in Greater Noida, India. Kumar targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for showing off Yoga and allowing sale of liquor. At anti-liquor rally, Kumar sought support of the residents of Uttar Pradesh to ban liquor. (Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Harsh Mahaseth

Nitish Kumar's decision to declare Bihar a dry state is being implemented rather strictly. The Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, which came into force on 1 April, 2016, restricted the manufacture, transport, sale and consumption of liquor in Bihar. And as early as 6 April, the state was declared dry! The penal provisions in the Act are stringent as there is a large fine as well as a long jail sentence for anyone caught violating the law.

The establishment of checkposts and barriers around the state has made it nearly impossible for those who wish to consume alcohol to source it. Following the ban, some locals took to crossing borders and going to neighbouring states or even to the bordering country of Nepal to enjoy liquor. In fact, according to a Times of India report, local hoteliers in Nepal claimed that their business had increased two- to three-fold due to the ban on liquor in Bihar.

However, the Nitish Kumar government is not turning a blind eye to those attempting to smuggle alcohol into the state. Border checking has become tighter and many of those who are crossing the border to enjoy liquor have been detained in Nepal. The state government has even requested the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation to keep a tight check in the airports and is willing to extend help in infrastructure such as x-ray screening machines for the checking of luggage.

Crimes such as murder, rape, domestic violence, atrocities against the SCs and STs and riots have reduced, noted the Commissioner of Patna, Anand Kishore...

This move to ban liquor in Bihar was not well accepted initially, with several critics averring that it would not result in a reduction of violence. However, within a month of the ban we have seen a drastic change in the state that wouldn't have been achieved just by increasing the taxes on alcoholic products.

The prohibition as well as pro-active policing have contributed to a decrease in the crime rate in Bihar by a whopping 27% in the month of April according to the Bihar government. Crimes such as murder, rape, domestic violence, atrocities against the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and riots have reduced, noted the Commissioner of Patna, Anand Kishore, during a meeting held by the CM. He further said that the number of road accidents have decreased since the ban.

This ban has brought a positive effect in the lives of the women in Bihar too. According to the National Family Health Survey report 46% of women have faced violence after their partner consumed alcohol. However after the ban and its strict enforcement it has been noted that these men returned home after work and didn't beat up their wives. Money which was used for consuming alcohol now reaches the hands of the wives who can use it to support their child's education or provide them food and clothing.

Nitish recently said that Bihar may lose ₹5000 crore due to the liquor ban but, the social benefits outweigh the loss.

In 2006 it was Nitish Kumar's policy to open licensed liquor shops in every panchayat and in many villages. This policy made drinking a habitual event for the men. So much so, that the state revenue rose ten-fold from ₹350 crore in 2004-2005 to over ₹4000 crore in 2005-2006. However this did have tragic consequences as not just the old but also the young took up drinking, causing an increase in the number of alcohol addicts in the state, according to Dipak Bharati, a well-known NGO activist in Madhubani, Bihar.

The move to ban liquor by Kumar could be seen as a way for him to mitigate what he had done earlier. With the successful implementation of the ban, Nitish Kumar is ready to take this prohibition beyond Bihar. He has already urged Uttar Pradesh to follow in the footsteps of its eastern neighbour.

On BR Ambedkar's 125th birth anniversary event in Patna, Nitish said that Bihar may lose ₹5000 crore due to the liquor ban but, the social benefits outweigh the loss. "Once people start spending on other things instead of alcohol more taxes will come to the government and the economy will prosper," he said.

This article was originally published here on Youth Ki Awaaz.

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