Nine persons were sentenced to death and four women to life imprisonment by Gopalganj Additional District Judge-2 Luv Kush Kumar on Friday after they were convicted in the Khajurbanni locality hooch tragedy.
Nineteen people died and six others lost their eyesight in August 2016 after consuming illicit liquor in dry Bihar.
“Fourteen persons had been named accused in the case. One of them died during trial,” said Special Public Prosecutor Ravi Bhushan Srivastava.
Those sentenced to death in the case are Chhathu Pasi, Kanhaiya Pasi, Nagina Pasi, Lalbabu Pasi, Rajesh Kumar, Sanoj Kumar Pasi, Sanjay Pasi, Ranjit Chaudhary and Munna Chaudhary. The women convicts are Laljhari Devi, Kailasho Devi, Indu Devi and Rita Devi.
The State government had announced ₹4 lakh compensation to members of the victims’ family. Along with main accused Nagina Pasi, 13 others were named as accused persons in the case.
As soon as the court pronounced the sentences, most of the accused persons and their family members began wailing.
“We will approach to Patna High Court against the judgment,” said Ved Prakash Tiwari, the lawyer representing the accused persons.
In June 2020, 21 policemen — three Sub-Inspectors, five Assistant Sub-Inspectors and 13 Constables — were dismissed in connection with the hooch tragedy, which struck months after Bihar was declared a dry State.
Four months after the Bihar government enforced the new Excise and Prohibition Act, 2016, banning trade and consumption of liquor in the State, 19 people died in the Khajurbanni locality under Manjha block of Gopalganj district after consuming illicit countrymade liquor. Six others lost their eye-sight. Later, a raid conducted by the police in Khajurbanni led to recovery of over 1,000 litres of alcohol hidden underground. Nagina Pasi was named the main accused in the case. The district administration had even imposed “collective fine” on the locality in a bid to deter residents from continuing with liquor brewing.
The Khajurbanni locality in Gopalganj town is inhabited mostly by Extremely Backward and Other Backward Class people.