Law Kumar Mishra

Patna: Hundreds of ex-armymen on Friday marched to Raj Bhawan from Hathikhana near Bihar Regimental Centre headquarters protesting against arrest of serving and former army officers and personnel for carrying liquor while travelling through Bihar. There is complete ban on liquor in Bihar since April 5, 2016.
A  delegation of Bihar ex-servicemen league submitted a memorandum to the principal secretary of Governor Ram Nath Kovind who is away in Madhya Pradesh. They marched on the 5 km long Bailey Road with banners and placards demanding their exemption from the Bihar Excise and Prohibition Act and alleged the Bihar government order banning consumption of liquor by them was against the law.
B D Singh, convenor of the league, said the government has disallowed them to carry liquor bottles outside Bihar regimental centre. According to Singh,  60 serving and ex-servicemen have been arrested at different places in the state on charges of carrying liquor in trains passing through Bihar. They have been jailed and could be released on bail after months. Even now, 16 of them are in jail. He regretted the Government Railway Police in-charges arrest them immediately and send them to jails though they carry valid permits issued by their Canteen directorates. The arrested jawans and officers face threat of getting sacked following their imprisonment.Last week, the Canteen Service Diectorate of Indian Army sent circulars to all commands and units, Assam Rifles,Indian Coast Guards advising their heads to communicate to their subordinates not to carry liquor bottles to Bihar even on transit as the anti-liquor law was stringent in the state. The Bihar-Jhanrkhand sub-area  Brigadier had met the chief secretary of Bihar twice suggesting withdrawal of ban on serving and retired armymen..Bihar has 1.20 lakh retired army personnel and 16,000 soliders visit Bihar every year on vacations and leaves, according to the memorandum submitted by the ex-armymen.

The memorandum alleged Bihar government wanted to kill them prematurely. Doctors advise the serving armymen to consume liquor quota for better health, according to a retired army captain M S Rawat. From the army canteen, a retired brigadier is allowed to have monthly quota of  12 bottles of liquor, officers below brigadier ten bottles, junior commissioned oficers (JCOs) 6 bottles and others four bottles of liquor every month.

The ex-armymen said the jawans and officers posted in the remote areas of India including Sia Chen were not aware of the strict anti-liquor laws in Bihar and are caught and sent to jails if they carry liquor in trains running through Bihar. Even those on transfers from North to North Eastern states have been caught at railway stations or in running coaches and sent to jails, the ex-armymen alleged.

Principal secretary, Excise and prohibition department, has written to the Defence secretary requesting him to ask all officers and jawans of the armed forces not to carry liquor in Bihar and Bihar regimental centre was asked to co-opearate in enforcing the anti-liquor law.

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