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16 held in Bihar hooch tragedy as toll rises to 12

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As the death toll mounted to 12 in the West Champaran hooch tragedy, the local district administration swung into action on July 17 and arrested 16 people while suspending and shifting personnel at the Lauriya police stations.

Family members of the victims have now given a statement to the police that the deceased had consumed local country-made liquor which lead to their deaths eventually.

“16 people have been arrested while search operation to nab others is under way. Station House Officer (SHO) Rajeev Kumar and other personnel attached with the Lauriya police station have been shifted. The Officer-in-Charge K.P. Yadav and one ‘chowkidar’ [watchman] have been suspended,” said a press releases issued by West Champaran district administration.

A number of spurious liquor outlets in several villages of Lauriya and Ram Nagar police stations too were demolished by the police and excise officials after the hooch tragedy on July 13-14.

“Police have identified the big sharks involved in illegal liquor trade in the area and we are working on leads to nab them,” said Champaran range senior police official Lallan Mohan Prasad.

On July 17, Inspector General of police (prohibition) Amritraj and State Excise Commissioner B. Kartikeya Dhanji visited Bettiah, district head quarter of West Champaran, and held a meeting with senior district officials.

West Champaran District Magistrate Kundan Kumar directed the civil surgeon to issue an advisory to all government and private hospitals and clinics to immediately report cases showing symptoms of liquor consumption or, poisoning to the local police station and excise officials.

Meanwhile, local Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) legislator from Sikta constituency Birendra Gupta in a letter to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar accused the district administration of hushing up the cases of hooch tragedy. Mr. Gupta demanded action against erring police officials.

On July 16, police in Bagaha of West Champaran had seized 3,700 litres of country-made liquor and destroyed over six local liquor manufacturing outlets at separate locations in Chautarawa and Bhaironganj police stations.

Thousands of litres of illegal liquor are reportedly seized everyday from all corners of Bihar, which was declared a dry State under new stringent prohibition law in April 2016.

Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad had recently alleged in a tweet that ruling party leaders were running a “₹ 20,000-crore illegal business of liquor smuggling, procuring and trading in the State. Due to prohibition in the State, thousands of people are dying every year in Bihar and ruling party leaders are running a parallel economy of ₹20,000 crore”, tweeted Mr. Prasad.

“The Bihar government is targeting only poor and Dalit people in liquor trade and sending them to jail. Bihar police has turned out to be corrupt and torturous,” he added.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 4:04:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/16-held-in-bihar-hooch-tragedy-as-toll-rises-to-12/article35390587.ece

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