LUCKNOW: Five persons, including Pappu Jaiswal, one of the two main accused in Barabanki hooch tragedy which has claimed 17 lives so far, were arrested here on Wednesday. The other main accused Danvir Singh of Bahraich, who owned the government licensed country made liquor shop in Raniganj market under Ramnagar area of Barabanki is still at large.
The authorities concerned are contemplating invoking National Security Act (NSA) against the accused.
On the other, the toll of the hooch tragedy victims soared to 17 as three more persons succumbed when they were undergoing treatment since Tuesday night.
Over 50 spurious liquor victims are still kept under observation in different hospitals in Lucknow and in Barabanki for treatment. The toll is set to rise with at least 10 of them stated to be critical.
Barabanki police, working on a confirmed tip-off, traced Pappu Jaiswal who could be arrested only after engaging in an encounter with cops in Ramnagar police station area on Wednesday. The police had to fire at the accused as he was trying to flee despite repeated warning, said sources.
The shop, however, was sealed and the state forensic team had collected the sample of killer liquor from there for investigation.
The actual number of victims is proving difficult to be ascertained as they belong to different villages under Ramnagar police station area. Moreover, Barabanki district administration has also ordered a magisterial probe parallel to the one being conducted by a three-member committee headed by UP
The committee, also comprising IG Ayodhya and Divisional Commissioner has been asked to submit a report within the next 24 hours.
Besides announcing an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of deceased, the state government cracked a whip on around 15 officials including district excise and police officials ordering their suspension on Tuesday.
While the doctors treating the spurious liquor victims claimed that they found traces of methanol in the viscera of patients, the local sources said that the victims, on Sunday night, bought country-made liquor sold under the brand name ‘Power House’.
On Monday morning, they all complained of stomach ache. The consumed more liquor on the same afternoon believing that it would help the pain subside. But their condition deteriorated further. “They first complained of stomach ache and then started losing vision,” said Ramwati, wife of Ramesh Kumar, 35, a victim who died along with his 60-year-old father Chhotelal and two brothers Mukesh, 28 and Sonu, 25.
“I saw all four of them dying in front of my eyes one by one within no time,” says a shell shocked Ramwati who has no one now to earn and feed the family.
Similar is the saga of death in other families. Be it Shiv Kumar Nishad, a farmer of Bhund village or Shiv Kumar Yadav a mechanic, all consumed ‘Power House’ developed same symptoms and lost their lives.