Ex-Armymen March against Prohibition; Demand Release of Arrested Jawans

Members of the Indian Army at the recent Independence Day parade at Patna's Gandhi Maidan.

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Patna: Protest against prohibition in Bihar took a new turn on Friday when thousands of former Army jawans took out a march from Danapur Cantonment to the Governor's mansion to demand exclusion from alcohol ban saying drinking was their right and Nitish government had no right to infringe on their rights.

Led by retired senior army officials, the march began in Danapur and reached the VIP area near Patna Secretariat where it was stopped by security officials.

"Alcohol ban should apply to drunkards and alcoholics; not to the entire population and certainly not to army jawans for whom alcohol is like medicine. Army rule 32/84 makes provision for liquor from the Defense Ministry and the Chief Minister does not have the power to overrule this," N. K. Singh, a senior army personnel said.

The protestors also demanded release of 70 army jawans who had been arrested in Bihar under the new prohibition laws.

"Many of these jawans were on leave and had arrived in Patna with their allotted quota of alcohol not being aware of the new laws imposed by the Nitish government. These are the people who protect the country from foreign aggression and yet Nitish Kumar is treating them as the enemy of the nation," Singh said.

A 5-member delegation of the protestors was later allowed to submit a memo to the Governor who reportedly said that he would take some action in the next two weeks to address their complaints.

"If our demands are not met within 15 days, we will be forced to launch an agitation that would be unprecedented in the country and could cause a security issue for the nation," a retired Captain said on the condition of anonymity.

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