Bihar prohibition: Court sends poor widow to 10yr jail for possession of mahua

A Bihar court has awarded 10-year rigorous imprisonment to a widow from a poor family after police recovered more than 25 kgs of mauha — a substance used to make liquor banned under the prohibition law — from her.

The court of Munger additional district judge Tribhuwan Nath also fined Rs 1 lakh from Mala Devi (45), a below poverty line resident of Chhoti Munderi village in Munger district, and ruled that she would have to spend another six months in jail if she failed to pay the fine.

Police had recovered 10 litres of fresh mahua juice and around 15 kg of fermented mahua juice from her residence last year.

Munger superintendent of police (SP) Ashish Bharti said Mala Devi had managed to escape following a raid on August 3, 2016. She was nabbed on January 11 this year with more mahua.

Possession of Mahua — considered sacred among tribals for its medicinal values but used to make alcohol — is a punishable offence in Bihar under the new excise law, which came into force on April 5, 2016.

Another case, lodged against her with Kharagpur police station under the prohibition law, is being heard in a court.

Under the prohibition law, police have carried out over 97,000 raids and over 85,000 cases have been lodged, although barely 3,000-odd violators are in prison.

Few days back, former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and leader of opposition Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav raised questions over the efficacy of the prohibition law, saying it was doing more harm to the poor as the supply of Indian made foreign liquor continued unabated across the state.

While Manjhi demanded breath analyser test on IAS  officers suggesting they had access to liquor, Tejaswhi said police stations in bordering areas were being “sold off” to facilitate easy access to liquor, despite the ban, and making for a flourishing parallel economy.

Additional director general (headquarters) Sanjiv Kumar Singhal said till date, 31 people, including a woman, had been convicted in 19 cases.

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