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Bihar Hooch Tragedy: NHRC Orders Probe Into Medical Treatment Given To Victims

After media reports suggested a death toll of 65 in the Saran hooch tragedy, the NHRC said that the incident 'indicates the failure of the state government' on implementation of its policy of prohibition of sale and consumption of illicit or spurious liquor in the state.

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has decided to depute its own investigation team, headed by one of its members, for an on-spot inquiry in the wake of the Bihar hooch tragedy, officials said on Saturday.

The Saran hooch tragedy toll rose to 30 on Friday, the biggest since Bihar went dry more than six years ago.

NHRC to probe medical treatment provided to victims

The NHRC, in a statement, said in the wake of media reports about more deaths in the Bihar hooch tragedy, spreading to other districts, it "has decided to depute its own investigation team headed by one of its members for an on-spot inquiry".

The Commission is concerned to know as to where and what kind of medical treatment is being provided to these victims. Most of them are from poor families and probably cannot afford costly medical treatment in private hospitals. Therefore, it becomes extremely necessary on the part of the state government to provide them the best possible medical treatment wherever it is available, it said.

"The Commission would like to know about the relief and rehabilitation given by the state government as well as the measures taken or proposed to be taken to dismantle clandestine hooch manufacturing hotspots across the state with a view to completely eradicate this social menace, intermittently happening in the state of Bihar," the rights panel said.

Saran hooch tragedy death toll rises to 65

According to the media reports, carried on Saturday, five deaths were reported in Siwan district and one in Begusarai district, even as the death toll was rising in Saran district, with 65 lives lost so far in the hooch tragedy that struck on December 14, the statement said. The NHRC has issued notices to the Bihar government and the state's police chief over the Saran hooch tragedy, officials had said on Friday.

The sale and consumption of alcohol was completely banned in Bihar in April 2016, though its "implementation has been patchy," the NHRC had observed in a statement.

Apparently, the reported incident "indicates the failure of the state government" on implementation of its policy of prohibition of sale and consumption of illicit or spurious liquor in the state, it said.

CM Nitish Kumar's reactions draw flak

Deaths have been reported in Mashrak and Isuapur police station areas of Saran district. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has stirred controversy for his reaction to the tragic loss of lives. on Thursday, he that drinking is bad and the example is in front of everyone that you will die if you drink.

"Those who will drink liquor will die. The example is in front of us. We should express grief over such cases and go to these areas and inform them...But some people still engage in wrongdoing. How many people are caught?" Nitish told journalists. 

The Opposition BJP has demanded that Nitish call an all-party meeting over the issue and reconsider Bihar's prohibition policy. It has also sought an apology from the government and demanded compensation for the families of the victims. On Friday, however, Nitish Kumar-led government refused to provide compensation, stating that "that consuming liquor in Bihar is a crime and deaths thus caused cannot be compensated for. It will be tantamount to supporting liquor consumption." 

(With inputs from PTI)

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