ON A day after a team from the National Human Rights Commission arrived in Bihar to look into the hooch deaths, the opposition parties, led by the Congress, criticised the government, alleging that it only sent such investigation teams to states not governed by the BJP in an effort to topple opposition-led governments.
In any case, Dola Sen of the TMC brought up the subject in the Rajya Sabha after submitting a Zero Hour proposal on a completely unrelated subject – the delay in the disbursal of monies under several central initiatives. Manoj Jha of the RJD attempted to bring up the matter but was unsuccessful. Outside the House, the Opposition’s collaboration on the matter was also evident.
A few hours later, a united statement criticising the NHRC was released by 14 opposition parties. The parties claimed that the Bihar government had taken strict action against bootleggers and arrack producers and asserted that it had also launched widespread outreach efforts warning of the risks of ingesting fake alcohol and urging people to put their health first.
The current dictatorship, however, has once again shown that nothing is off limits for its attempts to use tragedy for political gain. The NHRC team hurried to the Bihar districts of Saran and Siwan after these tragic deaths to look into the hooch disaster. Over 200 deaths associated with booze have occurred in the state of Bihar between 2016 and 2021, yet the NHRC has never felt the need to look into any of these incidents, demonstrating the Narendra Modi government’s double standards, the statement claimed.
After similar incidents involving hooch, the parties claimed that NHRC teams had never been to Gujarat or Uttar Pradesh. They claimed that 45 individuals died in Gujarati villages around Ahmedabad, Surendranagar, and Botad in July of this year from imbibing fake alcohol. While 36 individuals passed away in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, after ingesting fake alcohol in 2019, as many as 40 people passed away in Panipat and Sonipat, Haryana, after ingesting fake alcohol in 2020.
“In the year 2021, 782 persons lost their lives as a result of consuming fake alcohol, 108 of whom came from the state of Madhya Pradesh alone and 104 from the state of Karnataka. 1,322 persons in Madhya Pradesh alone have perished in the last six years as a result of fake alcohol. 6,954 persons passed away in the nation between 2016 and 2021, according to information presented to the Lok Sabha. However, the NHRC has not shown such a strong interest in any of these cases as it has in the case of Bihar, according to the parties.
The parties denounced what they referred to as a “brazen attempt” to capitalise politically on the tragic event, saying that it is “obvious that NHRC is being dispatched only to the non-BJP ruled states as the objective seems to be only to destabilise the Opposition-run governments.” Sadly, after employing the ED, CBI, IT, etc. to pursue political opponents over the past 8 years, the NHRC and NCPCR seem to have become the Modi government’s newest instruments.