Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav on Saturday participated in a human chain to promote the cause of alcohol prohibition, ANI reported. The chain, which involved more than two crore people, marked the beginning of the second phase of the state government’s campaign in support of the ban.
However, the event did not go glitch-free. At least 15 school children, who participated in the chain, fell unconscious, according to ANI. This came after the state’s chief secretary and the director-general of police had assured the Patna High Court that the participation of students in the chain would not be made mandatory, The Hindu reported. The two state officials had told the bench that no action would be taken against any student or teacher for not participating in the event.
On Thursday, the high court had asked the chief secretary and the DGP to explain why students were being involved in the chain. The officials had also informed the court that emergency services would be positioned on both state and national highways and that traffic movement would be regulated properly.
On January 2, the Bihar government had approached the Supreme Court to seek the transfer of a petition against the liquor ban, which is in force since 2016. The state government had enforced the Prohibition and Excise Act two days after the Patna High Court had declared the state’s law prohibiting alcohol, the Bihar (Amendment) Act, illegal.
The Bihar (Amendment) Act was passed in the state Legislative Assembly on March 31. In April, the state government had claimed that crime rates in Bihar had dropped by 27% after the ban on the sale of alcohol came into effect on April 5 last year.