Punjab illicit liquor tragedy: Main accused's husband among victims as toll climbs to 40

 The police conducted over 40 raids and arrested seven more bootleggers on Friday evening, taking the total number of arrests to eight.
Image for representational purpose only ( Express Illustration)
Image for representational purpose only ( Express Illustration)

CHANDIGARH: At least 40 people were died allegedly after consuming spurious liquor in Amritsar, Batala and Tarn Taran districts of Punjab. The police conducted over 40 raids and arrested seven more bootleggers on Friday evening, taking the total number of arrests to eight.

The main accused Balwinder Kaur was arrested after her husband also died in the tragedy. As on Saturday morning, at least 20 persons have died in Tarn Taran and ten each in Amritsar Rural, and Batala. The death toll could rise further as the spurious liquor network was evidently spread across many areas.

Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta said a huge quantity of illicit liquor, drums and storage cans have been recovered from the accused and the same have been sent for chemical analysis. More arrests are likely, he said, adding that raids were continuing and the police teams would continue to crack down on all those involved in the case to unravel the extent of the liquor mafia operating in the region.

The main accused Balwinder Kaur's husband Jaswant Singh was one of the victims. The local alleged that she had been in the illegal trade for the past two decades. While Kaur and Mithu were arrested from Amritsar Rural district, two persons identified as Darshan Rani and Rajan were nabbed from Batala district. Four others -- Kashmir Singh, Angrez Singh, Amarjit and Baljit, have been arrested from Tarn Taran.  Another case was registered yesterday under sections 304, 307, 120of IPC against the four.

The bootleggers had admitted to supplying spurious liquor in Norangabad.  Mithu, who was arrested from village Jasso Nangal has also admitted to his role in the supply.  "The blood pressure of our father shot up after consuming the liquor on Wednesday and we called the doctor. But his health deteriorated and we took him to the hospital where he was declared dead. People make this liquor in this village only but they are not being caught,’’ a villager said.

Punjab government on Friday had ordered a magisterial inquiry by Divisional Commissioner Jalandhar into the suspicious deaths. The magisterial inquiry will look into the facts and circumstances leading to incidents, as well as into any other issue(s)  connected or relevant to the incident (s) and the circumstances leading to it. It will be conducted by Divisional Commissioner Jalandhar, along with Joint Excise & Taxation Commissioner Punjab, and SPs Investigation of the concerned districts.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has given Commissioner Jalandhar Division the liberty to co-opt any civil and police officer or any expert to facilitate the expeditious conduct of the enquiry. He has promised strict action against anyone found complicit in the case, in which a woman has so far been arrested. Taking immediate and serious note of the case,  Amarinder also directed the police to launch a search operation to crack down on any spurious liquor manufacturing units that may be operating in the state.

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The New Indian Express