30 July, 2021

The Hunt For The Last Tipple

A month on, Nitish Kumar’s push for an alcohol-free state remains a case of ‘you win some, you lose some’

Dutiful Leisure
Two police constables relax at a tea shop
Photograph by Mihir Srivastava
The Hunt For The Last Tipple

It’s 10 pm on a Sunday and Patna’s usually busy Fraser Road bears a deserted look. Life has visibly changed in the one month since Bihar chief minister Nitesh Kumar prohibited consumption and sales of liquor—both country-made and Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL). The city sleeps early these days; it no longer gives the feeling of being alw­ays on the move. A bagger, with scraggly beard and heat-burned face, is smoking a chillum. Nearby some lab­ourers are in languid stupor. “I haven’t slept well for a month,” says one of them, Ramu from Samastipur, 30. “After a hard day’s toil in the scorching sun, daaru (liquor) is a must to soothe the nerves. I can’t sleep and have cramps all night.” The desperate ones take risks to lay their hands on smuggled liquor. It’s a status symbol to drink during prohibition.

These are early days, though, and it’s clear that Nitish means business. The bars have shut down. Mahesh Kumar, 50, is a security guard at the famous Mamta Bar. “How much do...

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