Bihar: Saran Hooch Tragedy Rocks Both Houses Of State Legislature; Toll Rises To 30, BJP Stages Raj Bhavan March

Bihar: Saran Hooch Tragedy Rocks Both Houses Of State Legislature; BJP Stages Raj Bhavan March

by PTI - Friday, December 16, 2022 02:36 PM IST
Bihar: Saran Hooch Tragedy Rocks Both Houses Of State Legislature; BJP Stages Raj Bhavan MarchBJP leader and LoP Bihar Assembly Vijay Kumar Sinha (Pic Via Twitter)

Patna, Dec 16 (PTI) The Saran hooch tragedy toll rose to 30 on Friday, the biggest since Bihar went dry more than six years ago, and it continued to cast a shadow on the state legislature where BJP members disrupted proceedings in both Houses before staging a Raj Bhavan march.

Saran District Magistrate Rajesh Meena told PTI over phone that the number of people who have died since Tuesday night has climbed to 30.

However unconfirmed reports claimed up to 50 people died by drinking illicitly brewed country liquor.

The DM maintained that the deaths were 'caused by suspected consumption of spurious liquor' which would be confirmed after the viscera of the deceased are examined at forensic labs.

Proceedings of the legislative council were adjourned till 2 pm within a few minutes of commencement at noon as the MLCs raised an uproar over the Chair's reluctance to take up for discussion an adjournment motion brought by them.

Shortly afterwards, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made an angry statement on the floor of the assembly, where similar uproarious incidents had forced adjournment till noon within a few minutes of commencement of proceedings at 11 am.

'Those who drink and lose their lives as a result deserve no sympathy (koi sahanubhuti nahin) and no compensation', fumed the septuagenarian, unfazed by the flak he has drawn over his 'jo piyega vo marega' quip on the previous day.

Kumar had risen in his chair taking exception to a submission by CPI MLA Satyendra Yadav that the government consider giving monetary compensation to the bereaved family members.

'Please do not take such a stand. I have always looked upon the Left parties as my allies', said a visibly pained Kumar, adding 'if you people feel that prohibition is wrong then say it so upfront. The law was brought in with the consent of all. If all today think we were in the wrong, we may withdraw it'.

'But do remember the deaths have taken place because of a filthy habit (ganda baat)', said the chief minister before uttering 'jo piyega vo marega' for yet another time.

The CM's statement came ahead of the lunch recess, shortly after a walkout by the BJP MLAs. The proceedings saw several heated exchanges between Leader of the Opposition Vijay Kumar Sinha and Speaker Awadh Bihari Chaudhary.

Sinha, who had visited the affected Mashrak block in Saran the previous night, claimed inside the House that the hooch tragedy has 'claimed more than 100 lives'.

Many media outlets have come out with unconfirmed reports of the number of casualties being around 50.

Sinha told reporters outside the assembly 'I am ashamed of the conduct of the Speaker who is acting as per the diktats of the government. I had preceded him in the Chair. Never did I work in such a partisan manner'.

'What has happened in Saran is tantamount to state-sponsored mass murder. The SIT formed by the administration is an eyewash. We are going to meet Governor Phagu Chauhan and submit a memorandum. Our demands include a CBI inquiry into the matter. If that is not possible, there should be a judicial probe', added Sinha.

He also said 'we would request the governor to recommend dismissal of the government and put under President's rule the state where the lives of the people are in danger because of the insensitivity of the ruling dispensation'.

Sinha also seemed to have taken to heart an admonitory note by the Speaker that as a Leader of the Opposition he should abide by 'parliamentary norms'.

Waving a copy of the rule book before journalists, he said 'we raised the matter strictly in accordance with norms.

The Speaker has the temerity to give sermons to us. He should show the courage to take action against the man who had trampled upon the Chair with boots on and is currently holding the post of the Deputy Chief Minister'.

The allusion was to an incident in March when the RJD, which was then in the Opposition, had created a ruckus over a bill and held Sinha, the then Speaker, hostage for several hours inside his chamber.

It has been alleged that Tejashwi Yadav, who was then the Leader of the Opposition, had clambered on the Speaker's Chair in the midst of a din inside the House.

A committee of the House is said to have submitted its report ahead of the political upheaval in August which saw the BJP thrown out of power and the RJD joining hands with the Chief Minister's JD(U).

The BJP has been alleging that the new regime has shelved the report because it was politically inconvenient.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without any modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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