LUCKNOW: The toll in hooch tragedy that struck a cluster of villages in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh on Monday night has risen to 14.
The incident came to light on Tuesday when Lekhpal, Sadar Badel, disclosed to the media persons that eight persons had died after consuming spurious liquor in Ramnagar police station area of Barabanki, some 40 km from state capital Lucknow.
The incident has come as a chilling reminder of the hooch tragedy which had claimed 116 lives in Saharanpur and Kushinagar districts in February, this year.
As per the sources, three persons were admitted to a local hospital in critical condition of which one had already succumbed. The toll is likely to rise further.
The victims belonged to different villages under Ramnagar police station area of Barabanki. As per the local sources, the villagers consumed the country made liquor bought from the shop of one Danvir Singh in Raniganj area. After the drinks, all those who had consumed it complained of cholera-like symptoms coupled with a stomachache. They were rushed to the Community Health Centre (CHC) to be referred to the district hospital where four persons died during the treatment.
Though the administration was confirming the death of only six persons, UP CM Yogi Adityanath took the cognizance of the tragedy and announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next kin of the deceased.
A three-member committee comprising Divisional commissioner, IG Ayodhya and Excise commissioner, was set up to probe into the incident and produce a report within next 48 hours.
State health minister Siddharth Nath Singh confirmed that while 16 persons were referred to King Georges’ Medial University (KGMU) for treatment, some were also admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences and Balrampur hospital in the state capital as well for treatment.
Meanwhile, UP excise minister Jai Pratap Singh cracked the whip suspending Brabanki District Excise Officer Shiv Narayan Dubey, excise inspector Ram Teerath Maurya, three head constables and five constables of excise department deployed in the circle.
Moreover, taking action against district police officials, UP DGP OP Singh suspended Ramnagar Circle Officer Pawan Gautam and Ramnagar inspector Rajesh Kumar for laxity in checking the sale of spurious liquor in the area.
Four among those who died belonged to one family. In fact, three of them – Ramesh Kumar, 35, Sonu, 25 and Mukesh, 28 --were siblings. Even their father Chhotelal also lost his life after consuming liquor with sons. “There is no one left in the family to take the mortal remains of deceased for cremation,” said deceased Ramesh’s wife Ramawati.
Moreover, others who died included Sonu of Akhora village, Surya Bhan, 35, of Pipri Mahar village, Rajendra Verma of Umri village, Mahendra of Semrai village and his namesake of Tatehara village also died after consuming the same liquor. All the victims died during treatment.
Meanwhile, the condition of Ravi Shankar, 30, of Raniganj village is said to be critical. On the other, three victims of the spurious liquor were referred to Lucknow Trauma Centre.