The death toll in the Bihar hooch tragedy climbed to 38 on November 6 even as chief minister Nitish Kumar called for a fresh awareness campaign against the consumption of liquor in the dry state. Police have made arrests and errant officials have been punished in connection with the sale of illicit liquor. So far, 15 people have died in Bettiah, 11 in Gopalganj, and six each in Muzzafarpur and Hajipur.

In another such incident, four persons died at a village in Samastipur, allegedly after drinking alcohol. Police said post-mortems were being conducted. “People involved in the matter will be traced. We appealed to villagers to inform police if anyone is sick,” said Samastipur SP Manavjit Dhillon.

Superintendent of police Anand Kumar said Ranjan Kumar, the incharge of Mohammadpur police station, and a chowkidar have been suspended, and three alleged sellers have been arrested. He also claimed that raids had led to recovery of 100 litres of spurious liquor.

Sale and consumption of alcohol were completely banned in the state in April, 2016. Opposition parties criticised the state government over the matter, with opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav accused those in the government of being involved in the sale of illicit liquor.

In a series of tweets, he attacked Kumar over the deaths and accused those in his government, including a BJP minister, of being involved. BJP state spokesperson Nikhil Anand hit back, asserting that it was the opposition party that was working hand in glove with illicit liquor traders.

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