CPI (ML) to Agitate for Release of Mastan Manjhi and Painter Manjhi

CPI (ML) Bihar State Secretary Com. Kunal said in a statement that the draconian provisions of the anti-liquor law have started wreaking havoc on the poor. A fast track court in Jehanabad, in just 40 days, has sentenced 2 brothers Mastan Manjhi and Painter Manjhi from Unta Musahar Tola to 5 years Rigorous Imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the charge of having drunk toddy; if they fail to pay the fine they will have to spend 6 years in jail. This is a massive blow to the families of the 2 brothers who earn their livelihood by plying thelas (cycle-carts). Now the families are on the brink of starvation and deep in debt. As per the present law toddy is not banned. This is the first punishment meted out under the draconian anti-liquor law. The legal fight ahead for the family is going to be very difficult.

Com Kunal further said that this is the same Jehanabad where the perpetrators of the Bathe massacre have been honourably acquitted but innocents put behind bars under TADA continue to languish in jail; this is indeed a strange example of social justice. He added that about 45000 people are in jail under the present draconian liquor law. A handful of them may belong to the liquor mafia but the majority are poor common citizens on whom the sword of punishment is hanging. The liquor mafia in the State is flourishing; home delivery is being done at double and treble the rate. Is this possible without political-administrative protection? But instead of acting against this unholy nexus the government is targeting the hapless citizens who have been addicted to liquor.

Com Kunal said that Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has encouraged the spread of liquor in the entire State, but he has never apologized to the people of Bihar for this criminal deed. While there is no doubt that the liquor trade has a criminal economy but definitely the common people addicted to liquor are not criminals. It is not correct to treat them like criminals. They need reform homes, not jails. The government should make proper arrangements for their rehabilitation and give their families sustenance allowance while they are inside the reform home. But this government, which has come to power by getting the votes of the poor, is wreaking havoc on those very poor. This is a betrayal of the people’s mandate.