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Spurious liquor kills at least 38 in Punjab

Picture for representation.

Picture for representation.  

At least 38 people have died over the past 48 hours in three districts of Punjab allegedly after consuming spurious liquor.

The police have so far arrested eight persons in the case, said Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta on Friday. He said a large quantity of spurious liquor, drums and cans were recovered from the accused. These have sent for for chemical analysis to check for constituents of spurious liquor.

While Balwinder Kaur and Mithu were arrested from Amritsar rural district, two persons identified as Darshan Rani and Rajan were nabbed from Batala district. Four others — Kashmir Singh, Angrez Singh, Amarjit and Baljit — were arrested from Tarn Taran. An FIR has been registered under Sections 304, 307 and 120 of the Indian Penal Code.

“As of Friday evening, 10 persons had died of spurious liquor consumption in Amritsar rural, nine in Batala and 19 in Tarn Taran. The death toll could rise further as the spurious liquor network was evidently spread across many areas,” said the DGP, adding that questioning of the accused could lead to further arrests.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered a magisterial inquiry by Divisional Commissioner, Jalandhar, into the suspicious deaths in Amritsar, Batala and Tarn Taran districts, said an official government statement.

The Shiromani Akali Dal, however, demanded a judicial probe by a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court into the matter. 

SAD leader and former Minister Daljit Singh Cheema said the inquiry ordered by the Chief Minister was “too little, too late and would not serve any purpose”. He alleged that the supply of spurious liquor was widespread across districts and required a thorough investigation by an independent agency. “The multiple hooch tragedies had exposed the under belly of the illegal liquor trade in Punjab... The government should also act on complaints of the people with reports suggesting that the police failed to act despite complaints about sale of spurious liquor in Muchhal,” he said.

Congress’s Rajya Sabha member Partap Singh Bajwa asked the Chief Minister for a time-bound judicial probe.

“@capt_amarinder ji if you really want to unearth the truth behind the demise of 21 people due to spurious liquor and bring justice to their families, nothing other than a time bound inquiry by a sitting judge from the Punjab & Haryana High Court will suffice,” tweeted Mr. Bajwa.

The government statement said the inquiry ordered by the Chief Minister would look into the facts and circumstances leading to the incidents. It will be conducted by Divisional Commissioner of Jalandhar, along with Joint Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Punjab, and Superintendent of Police of the concerned districts, it added.

The Chief Minister has given the Divisional Commissioner the liberty to co-opt any civil-police officer or any expert to facilitate the expeditious conduct of the inquiry, in the case in which a woman has so far been arrested. 

Captain Singh also directed the police to launch a search operation to crack down on any spurious liquor manufacturing units that may be operating in the State, said the statement.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 5:55:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/many-dead-in-punjab-after-allegedly-consuming-spurious-liquor/article32238565.ece

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