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Six more die due to spurious liquor in Punjab; death toll rose to 110

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Chandigarh: The death toll in the Punjab hooch tragedy rose to 110 with six more people reported dead after drinking spurious liquor, officials said on Monday.

Three fatalities were reported from Tarn Taran, two from Gurdaspur’s Batala and one from Amritsar, they said.

So far, the maximum 83 deaths have taken place in Tarn Taran district, followed by 14 in Batala and 13 in Amritsar. The tragedy has been unfolding since Wednesday evening in the three districts.

Tarn Taran Deputy Commissioner Kulwant Singh said two people are critical while the condition of eight others is stable.

Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Ishfaq said one person died on Monday afternoon while another on Sunday.

Amritsar Deputy Commissioner G S Khaira said the death toll in Amritsar reached 13 as one more person died on Sunday night.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Police arrested 12 more people, including two businessmen, in a crackdown against the illegal liquor trade.

So far, police have arrested 37 people in this regard. A manhunt has been launched for eight more accused, including a Ludhiana-based paint shop owner, believed to be a key player in the illegal liquor trade, said Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta.

Two Congress MPs on Monday met Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore, seeking a probe by the CBI and ED into the alleged illegal liquor in the state.

Attacking their own government in Punjab, Rajya Sabha members Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo claimed that the “liquor mafia” existed in the state and sought immediate action against them.

Both MPs said the tragedy was “bound to happen” in the “absence” of timely action by the Congress government against illegal liquor racket.

Meanwhile, BJP’s national secretary Tarun Chugh slammed the Congress government in the state, holding it responsible for the tragedy.

Chugh sought a probe by a sitting judge of the high court while rejecting the magisterial inquiry ordered by the state government. He also met families of the victims in Batala.

Lambasting the state government, the BJP leader said the tragedy has “exposed” the anti-drug drive of the state government.

“The government waited for the tragedy to happen rather than taking timely acting against culprits,” he told mediapersons in Batala.

Activists of the SAD’s Youth Akali Dal also staged a dharna in Tarn Taran against the government.

Led by YAD chief Parambans Singh Romana, they alleged that some Congress MLAs were “patronising the illicit liquor trade”.

Romana sought the registration of an FIR against them and said the Shiromani Akali Dal will continue its protest till action was taken against the culprits.

“We request the government to take heed or we will be forced to launch an agitation against the legislators as well as the chief minister,” he said.

The protesters demanded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh for each of the families of the deceased.

Meanwhile, Punjab Cabinet Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said some “bad elements” got a chance to start the illegal trade of spurious liquor as the attention of police was on the coronavirus situation.

However, he said the culprits won’t be spared.

Punjab Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi too ridiculed the SAD for blaming the state government for the hooch tragedy.

“It was nothing but pot calling the kettle black as similar incidents had occurred in 2012 and 2016 in Gurdaspur and Batala, respectively, during their regime,” said Sodhi in an official statement.

Sodhi said in the Batala case, neither a FIR was registered nor any action taken against the main accused.

Sensing the gravity of the matter, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh immediately ordered a magisterial inquiry by a divisional commissioner, who has been asked to submit his report within a month, the minister said.

The chief minister had earlier suspended seven excise officials and six policemen.


Source :economictimes.indiatimes.com

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