LUCKNOW: Seven persons died and at least six others are fighting for their lives after allegedly drinking bootleg liquor in Kewatia village in Azamgarh district of UP on Friday.
While local villagers were certain that it was hooch that was the cause of the deaths, the local police quibbled that it could be dodgy toddy or contaminated food.
Sources said the affected village, Kewatia, was indeed a hub of hooch where peddling goes on right under the nose of the police. According to the gram pradhan (village head) of Kewatia, the local police were tipped off about peddling of spurious liquor in the area but did not crack down.
A K Sahni, the senior superintendent of police (SSP) of Azamgarh, said the facts of the case would be established only after post-mortem reports of the victims come in.
All the same, he suspended three police officers including the station house officer of Raunakpur, the local police precinct, a sub-Inspector and the beat officer. He recommended action against the local excise inspector, and suspended four excise constables for failing to check bootlegging in the area.
SSP Sahni indicated his suspicion that the bootleg liquor was home-brewed. “Despite vigil, these villagers prepare liquor laced with toddy in their homes. It is imperative to run some awareness programmes for villagers beside keeping an eye on the hooch trade.” Five of the victims in the tragedy are said to have consumed dodgy liquor – home-brewed or sourced from elsewhere – on Wednesday night and suffered ill-effects immediately thereafter. They were rushed to the local hospital but succumbed Friday morning. They were named as Ramvriksha (70), Charitra (85), Shivkumar (18), Shyam Preet (40) and Ramnayan (70).
Six others Sadur (35), Durgvijay(25), Tapanju (55), Bajrangi (55), Balchand (60), Manoj (26), and Vijay Narain (25) were undergoing treatment at the nearest district hospital.
Two other hooch that occurred in Rasoolpur and Odhra Salempur villages are also being attributed to spurious liquor. Authorities, however, were tight-lipped over the incident.