In December 2012, the girl of Konar, a nondescript village 12 kms from Sasaram, discovered that younger kids had been ingesting liquor out of pouches strewn in all places.
The Bihar authorities had just lately permitted liquor shops in each panchayat, angering native ladies who stated they had been recurrently molested by drunken males, particularly after darkish.
Earlier that month, a medical pupil was brutally gang raped and attacked in Delhi; as information of the violent crime reached Konar, it galvanised the girl who largely got here from marginalised communities. They organised themselves into teams and began demonstrating for a ban on the sale of liquor.
“Liquor was one of many causes for the gang rape episode in Delhi. So, after receiving quite a few complaints from rural ladies, who had been silently struggling the each day taunts, we determined to start an agitation,” stated Sunita Devi, the founding father of Pragatisheel Mahila Manch (PMM), a social platform floated by ladies towards alcoholism.
The motion began in Konar unfold like wildfire throughout the state with hundreds of girls and activists holding demonstrations throughout the state, demanding prohibition. Girls got here out on the streets and thronged political conferences, with slogans towards liquor. “We opposed the coverage of the state authorities to difficulty liberally permission for liquor outlets in each panchayat. This ruined the youth and youngsters,” added Devi.
Within the 2015 meeting election, prohibition was one of many key election points and a central plank of chief minister Nitish Kumar. The thrill across the demand helped push up ladies voter turnout to 59.92%. In no less than 30 meeting constituencies, the turnout of girls voters crossed 70%.
After Nitish Kumar — who was with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on the time — got here again to energy, he shortly instituted a slew of measures corresponding to 35% reservation for ladies in state authorities jobs and panchayat our bodies, and free bicycles and college gown to women.
After which, in April 2016, Bihar banned the sale and storage of liquor, changing into the second state after Gujarat to fully impose prohibition.
4 years later as one other meeting election comes round, the ladies of Konar are ambivalent in regards to the affect of their motion as a result of they really feel a thriving illicit liquor mafia has undercut its achievements.
“We can’t overlook the times when most of our household earnings was spent on liquor. That modified after prohibition. Nevertheless, issues are again to sq. one now, albeit illegally. The ban has remained solely on paper and liquor smuggling is rampant,” stated Phudena Devi who actively organised the anti-liquor protests in 2012 and 2013.
.Shanti Devi, of neighbouring Sitabigha village, agreed. She stated the village misplaced 100 males to illicit liquor within the final six-seven years. “The aim of our agitation has been misplaced. Individuals at the moment are indulging in unlawful commerce of liquor. Some poor kids are additionally concerned in it,” she alleged.
In 4 years, Bihar confiscated 41.06 lakh litres of IMFL and nation made liquor, usually hiring street rollers to smash bottles of liquor. However consultants warned that solely a small fraction of the smuggled liquor was being seized; even then, in lots of instances, bottles disappeared from police godowns — in 2018,police in Kaimur district claimed that rats drank 11,000 litres of smuggled alcohol.
For Santi Devi, the liquor ban yielded combined outcomes. “Alcohol is definitely accessible for anybody who needs to drink,” she stated. “Nonetheless there are cases of home violence. However it’s not as brazen because it was and it has helped households,” she added.
The help base of girls voters, which boosted Kumar in 2015, can also be sore in regards to the financial crash and migrant disaster in the course of the nationwide lockdown earlier this 12 months.
“Nitish solely obtained help from the agricultural ladies. Girls belonging to center and higher class weren’t with him when he introduced prohibition. The agricultural ladies who backed him, have grow to be vocal critics because of lack of jobs of their male members of the family in the course of the lockdown,” stated DM Diwakar, former director of AN Sinha Institute for Social Research.
Shefali Roy, professor of political science at Patna College, stated the keenness of girls voters — seen in 2015 — was lacking this time. “The silent power behind Nitish Kumar’s victory was the ladies over the last elections. In gratification to the transfer of banning alcohol, ladies outnumbered males within the voting course of. Nevertheless, this was fairly a transitory interval. Very quickly ladies realised their mistake, when unlawful consumption and sale of alcohol made headlines,” she stated.
Janata Dal (United ) spokesperson Rajeev Ranjan stated ladies voters continued to face with Kumar.
“Girls voters started associating with Nitish Kumar ever since he started empowering them. The advance of legislation and order has had its impact on them in rural areas as nicely. Prohibition additional strengthened their religion in Nitish Kumar. We’re certain, they (the ladies) will stand by us,” he stated.
“The aim of prohibition has not been served. Girls are additionally disillusioned by this falsehood. They’re additionally fed up with rampant unlawful sale of liquor. So, we don’t see any achieve to Nitish Kumar from this legislation,” stated Premchandra Mishra, Congress MLC.