LUCKNOW: In probably the worst-ever hooch tragedy of the country, the toll in Saharanpur and Roorkee on Saturday went up to touch the figure of 94 besides those 10 who fell victim to illicit liquor in eastern UP district of Kushinagar between Wednesday and Friday. Scores of hooch victims are critical and recuperating in various hospitals across western UP including Meerut medical college.
In Saharanpur alone, the western UP district touching the border of hill state of Uttarakhand, the toll climbed to 64 while in Roorkee-Haridwar, it was 30. Saharanpur DM Alok Pandey and SSP Dinesh Kumar P are staying put in the district hospital to supervise the treatment of the victims. Around two dozen patients from Saharanpur were referred to Meerut medical college on Friday of which 18 have already succumbed.
Although Uttarakhand administration has put the official casualty figure at 24, the number is much higher, say people in the worst-hit Balupur village on Roorkee-Haridwar border.
Saharanpur administration swung into action after directives issued by the highest excise and police authorities late last night when UP DGP OP Singh and Principal Secretary, Excise, held a conference call with all the DMs and SSP, across the state asking them to launch an immediate state-wide drive to identify those involved in illegal trade of spurious liquor.
Saharanpur DM and SSP were asked to ensure action against the culprits soon.
Consequently, in a major crackdown, the Saharanpur police, in coordination with Uttarakhand police, arrested 39 suspects so far in connection with the tragedy lodging 35 cases. The suspects mainly belong to Sahaisi, a nomadic tribe, camping around the affected village in Roorkee. The district authorities are contemplating to invoke National Security Act (NSA) against the main culprits.
According to Saharanpur SSP Dinesh Kumar P, the autopsy reports of the deceased indicated presence of the traces of methyl alcohol (Methanol) in the viscera of the victims. In fact, methanol is a common adulterant in country made liquor because of its appearance and taste similar to ethyl alcohol and its easy availability.
The tragedy has gripped around a dozen villages under Nagla police station area of Saharanpur district. The villagers were served illicit liquor at a ‘tehervin’ sanskar which snuffed out so many lives.
The district administration has been making a public announcement from religious places urging people not to consume country-made liquor.
This has been the biggest ever tragedy to have struck the villages in western UP. In 2009, 49 people had died across nine villages under Deoband area in Saharanpur district.