Nitish concedes demand for ex gratia for hooch deaths

The Bihar chief minister announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to those who died in hooch tragedy since 2016.

Nitish concedes demand for ex gratia for hooch deaths

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (File Photo: ANI)

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had to concede to the long pending demand of the Opposition for compensation to the families of those who died after consuming spurious liquor.  On Monday, he announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to those who died in hooch tragedies since 2016.

It may be noted here that there is a complete prohibition in Bihar on manufacturing, collection, storage, transportation, sale, purchase and possession of any kind of liquor including country made since April 2016.

The chief minister made this surprise announcement that the compensation amount would be given from the CM Relief Fund following a hooch tragedy in Motihari, in Bihar’s East Champaran district in which 26 died after consuming spurious liquor on Friday night. According to unofficial sources, the death toll in the East Champaran hooch tragedy mounted to 38.


Last year on December 13-15, more than 70 people had died after consuming spurious liquor at Masrakh block in the Saran district.

In addition, over two dozen people are admitted to the government and private hospitals in the district. Sixteen police officials including five station house officers (SHOs), in-charge of anti liquor task force, village chowkidars have already been suspended, according to official sources.

In a complete U-turn from his earlier statement, Nitish said, “Main bahut dukhi huin Motihari ki ghatna se. (I am deeply pained over the tragic incident happened in Motihari). Earlier, he used to say “Jo piyega woh marega” (Those who drink spurious liquor will die).

While the Opposition BJP has been repeatedly demanding compensation to those who died of drinking illicit liquor, the CM kept on rejecting the demand categorically, saying it “Jo piyega wo marega”.  Last year, during winter session in the state assembly, he categorically said that there is no question of giving any compensation to those who died after consuming spurious liquor and also specifically said that there should not be any sympathy for them.

Giving details of the payment of compensation amount, Prohibition Minister Sunil Kumar, who is also a retired IPS officer, said the compensation amount would be given only after the families obtain a post-mortem report stating that the death was caused by consuming illicit liquor.

The recipient will also have to give an undertaking in writing that he or she supports total prohibition in Bihar. He or she will also generate awareness among the neighbouring people about this social evil, he told reporters. This will be applicable with effect from 2016.

One affected person seeking compensation will have to first submit a petition to the concerned district magistrate with a copy of the post mortem report. The concerned DM will verify it then it will be finally approved. The CM also said that if a lone earning member in the family has died after consuming illicit liquor, the government will provide a sustainable employment to the poor family for their livelihood. The government has not made any amendment in the existing Bihar prohibition Act of 2016. “We have decided to provide compensation to the affected families purely on humanitarian ground,” the CM told media persons.

It may be mentioned here that the hooch tragedy occurred on Friday night after locals allegedly consumed adulterated liquor mainly in four blocks- Harsidhi, Turkulia, Sugauli and Paharpur blocks of the district. The first report of casualty of 12 people came from Lakhimpur village till Saturday. The police said a total of 736.5 litre of spirit have been recovered and about 6110 litre of semi-processed liquor were destroyed.

According to information reached here from the district, out of the total casualty figure, post mortem was conducted on only three bodies. The remaining bodies were disposed of without conducting a post mortem.

Almost all the political parties, including the Opposition BJP, welcomed the decision of CM Nitish to provide compensation to those hit by hooch tragedy. The state BJP president Samrat Choudhary claimed that it’s a victory for the BJP. “We have been demanding this for the last eight months. But the CM was adamant on this issue. BJP compelled the CM to do it. We have also raised this issue in the all party meeting,” he told reporters.

Welcoming the CM’s decision, Leader of the Congress legislature party in the Bihar assembly Ajit Sharma said that the culprit should be booked immediately. The erring officers should also be taken to task.