The excise department has set up a control room amid raids against spurious liquor across several districts with women spearheading the campaign in Muzaffarpur.
Following the recent deaths, particularly in Muzaffarpur district where more than 10 people died last week after consuming illicit liquor, department officials have taken steps like deputing more personnel for its control room. Several raids were carried out successfully after people informed the control room on its helpline, 0612-2215665, launched in last week of September.
The department has received at least 51 calls since the helpline was opened to public through advertisements. “While the excise department has its own set of informers, this move was essential. The names and whereabouts of those who are informing about small shops, joints and people involved in the illicit liquor trade are kept secret. There is a provision of rewards also,” official added.
Nunulal Choudhary, the excise assistant commissioner, said: “In the past we had put out cellphone numbers of excise department officials in the districts. However, the landline seemed to be simpler with the control room at the secretariat catering to the entire state. In Patna, the department has conducted at least 25 raids based on the helpline information. On Sunday, the department seized more than 2,000 litres of spurious liquor in Bihta, Naubatpur, Bikram and other areas.”
In Muzaffarpur, women in villages under Sakra, Kudhani, Bochahan, Saraiya, Paroo, Kanti and Moraol blocks demolished many shops. The women, under the banner of the All India Mahila Samiti, Nasha Mukti Abhiyan and self-help groups, also formed an association to prevent open sale of illicit liquor. They also found support in district magistrate Santosh Kumar Mall, who advised the women to opt for non-violent approach to register their protest.
However, Sujata Devi of Sakra said their members sometimes lost cool when they faced inaction. “The police and excise officials are hand-in-glove to pacify our movement against the unlawful and illicit liquor business,” said Durga Devi of Motipur.
Kamni Devi of Kudhani said the women ransacked the hideouts of manufacturing or selling points of illicit liquor when the people engaged in selling or preparing refused to wind it up of their own. Giving details of raids conducted by the activists, their coordinator Sudama said they had caught hold of 12 men, including senior citizens, for selling illicit liquor besides 2,500 litres of wine, bundles of wrapper, punching machine and 1,100 sealed pouches in five days.