Patna, Dec 22 (PTI) Police personnel in Bihar, from the lowest to the topmost ranks, have taken a fresh pledge to stay away from alcohol all through their lives.
Close to 80,000 police personnel from all districts participated in the exercise on Monday, the third such initiative since the state went dry less than five years ago.
'Enforcement of prohibition law is our top priority.
And we need to remind this to ourselves again and again,' Bihar Director General of Police S K Singhal told reporters.
The exercise involved reciting and signing a short oath, affirming complete abstinence from alcohol 'aajivan' (for the entire life), steadfastness in enforcing the prohibition law and willingness to undergo punishment for any laxity on these counts.
The latest exercise follows an impassioned plea by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who recently began his fourth consecutive term in office, for strict implementation of the liquor ban at a meeting he chaired for reviewing the law and order situation.
Enacted in April, 2016, the prohibition law followed a promise made by Nitish Kumar to the state's women voters during the assembly elections the previous year that sale and consumption of liquor will be banned if he returned to power.
In the preceding years, the state had seen a phenomenal rise in excise revenue, even though proliferation of liquor shops in cities, towns and villages had invited widespread criticism.
Introduction of prohibition law was followed by drives aimed at its popularisation which included similar oath-taking functions involving police officials in 2016 and 2019 and formation of a state-wide human chain in January, 2017.
Opposition leaders have been alleging that prohibition in the state was observed mostly in the breach and the business of 'home delivery' of liquor was thriving under the patronage of influential politicians and bureaucrats while many innocent poor were wrongfully arrested invoking draconian provisions of the law.
Instances of policemen having been themselves caught drunk, letting off liquor-laden vehicles after receiving a 'cut', and even getting involved in sale of confiscated alcohol, have caused embarrassment to the state government.
The state home department has said that hundreds of erring police officials were facing legal and disciplinary action and more than 60 have been dismissed from service so far for violating the law. PTI NAC SK SK