Nitish Kumar announces ₹4 lakh compensation for hooch victims. There’s a rider | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Nitish Kumar announces 4 lakh compensation for hooch victims. There’s a rider

Apr 17, 2023 03:40 PM IST

Nitish Kumar’s announcement on Monday is a reversal of his stand for years that the government will not compensate people who lost their lives because they were breaking the law.

PATNA: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday announced a 4 lakh ex-gratia for the next-of-kin of people who died in hooch tragedies after prohibition was introduced in 2016 but stressed that people who seek financial assistance will have to reveal the identity of the person from who liquor was illegally bought. The family will also have to sign off on a pledge not to consume liquor and support prohibition, he added.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said next-of-kin of people who die due to illicit liquor will have to disclose the source of the illicit liquor to be eligible for the <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>4 lakh compensation (PTI)
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said next-of-kin of people who die due to illicit liquor will have to disclose the source of the illicit liquor to be eligible for the 4 lakh compensation (PTI)

Kumar’s announcement on Monday is a reversal of his stand for years that the government will not compensate people who lost their lives because they were breaking the law, and comes following sharp attacks from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the death of 22 people in a hooch tragedy reported on Friday in East Champaran district’s Motihari area.

“This is very sad. These are people of poor families. So, we have decided that the families of all the deceased should be given compensation of 4 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Not only Motihari but compensation will be given to the families of all the people who died due to drinking alcohol before this,” Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of a function in state capital Patna on Monday.

More than 155 people have died across Bihar due to the consumption of hooch since November 2021

The chief minister made it clear that families would be entitled to the assistance only if they give in writing to the district magistrate (DM) that the person who died consumed illicit alcohol. “The name and address of the person from where he had taken the liquor will have to be given. Along with this, they will also have to write that prohibition is a very good thing, we support this and no one in the family will drink alcohol in future,” said Kumar.

Kumar said he has all along maintained that it was wrong to consume liquor but there has been a sudden rise in such deaths in the last two-three years.

To be sure, Bihar did provide ex-gratia assistance to families of people who died due to illicit liquor in the initial phase of prohibition. But this practice was stopped after questions were raised, underlining that people who buy illicit liquor despite prohibition have violated the law.

Nitish Kumar has since then repeatedly refused to resume the financial assistance and has been accused by the opposition of being insensitive to the plight of people.

Those who drink and die deserve no sympathy and no compensation, he told the state assembly in December last, stressing that “giving any compensation will go against the spirit of the prohibition law” and “those who drink liquor will die”.

The statement had roiled the opposition BJP, which stepped up its campaign against the chief minister, had asked him to apologise for his “insensitive” statement.

BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand reiterated the demand for an apology on Monday as well. “Secondly, he should set up a judicial enquiry committee and come out with a white paper on liquor deaths and supply of illegal drugs,” Anand said.

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