'Participation of schools in Bihar human chain not mandatory'

Patna, Jan 20: The Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government on Friday assured the Patna High Court that participation of school children was not mandatory for the "human chain" in support of the state government's prohibition policy.

Bihar Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh and Director General of Police P.K. Thakur appearing before the court assured it that there would be no "forcible participation". 

A bench of the high court on Thursday had summoned both Singh and Thakur to appear on Friday to address the court's concern over any mandatory "participation". 

They also reiterated that the state would "not force any one" for that matter to be a part of the endeavour, highlighting the state's dedicated effort to remain "dry"

After they appeared and explained the government's stand, the court said it would hear the case next on January 28.

This came as a big relief to the state government a day before the proposed event on January 21.

Earlier on Wednesday, hearing a petition filed by non-government organisation 'Forum for Public Interest Litigation', the high court sought the Bihar government's response on the matter.

The division bench of Acting Chief Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Sudhir Singh gave the Thursday orders after it was not satisfied with the state government's reply filed by its Principal Additional Advocate General Lalit Kishore.

The Bihar government plans to form "the world's longest human chain of over 11,000 km" on Saturday to support prohibition of liquor in the state.

The court had also asked under which law the state government decided to order a halt to traffic on national and state highways for the programme.

The Nitish Kumar government had earlier asked all schools to facilitate their students to join the proposed human chain and ordered closure of traffic between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on January 21.

Three satellites, including one foreign and two of Indian Space Research Organisation, four aircraft, two helicopters and 40 drones would be used to click photos of the human chain, officials said.