Illicit liquor thrives under police nose in Kallakuruchi's Karunapuram, locals allege bribery, negligence

Karunapuram that saw the most number of deaths is just 500 metres away from police station
Grieving relatives of one of the victims.
Grieving relatives of one of the victims. (Express photo | Sriram)

KALLAKURUCHI: The area in Karunapuram where the illicit liquor was sold is barely 500 metres from the local police station and also close to the district integrated court complex and a few government offices. However, locals say the sale of illicit liquor has thrived here for several years.

“Hooch has been sold in this area for the last 20 years. No policeman pays attention to it even if women complain because bribe is promptly sent to the personnel. The matter has now come to light only because of so many deaths,” says L Ramakrishnan (65), a shop owner on Kottaimedu main road.

Almost every resident in Kottaimedu, Karunapuram and Mamandur alleges that police has been hand-in-glove with those involved in the sale of hooch. Some residents even criticise the MLAs of Rishivandiyam and Sankarapuram under which Kalvarayan hills and the foothill fall. The ruling DMK has won from these constituencies in the last two elections. It may be noted that the Prohibition and Enforcement Wing has often reported securing barrels of liquor illicitly brewed in Kalvarayan hills.

“Not even a flower shop will function here without the knowledge of the MLA. How can we accept that he did not know about illicit hooch being brewed here,” asks K Ilavarasu (34), owner of a mobile phone repair shop in Karunapuram.

R Perumal (35), a resident of Madhavcheri who lost his brother, says, “Hooch will be brought in packets and sold at a common spot in the village. People from the Scheduled Caste community and Most Backward Class community buy them. When it comes to hooch, there is no rich or poor or dominant or oppressed caste. Police will come for inspection, but will silently leave after taking bribe.”

For a district where the culture of brewing and consumption of arrack has been prevalent, and with neighbouring Villupuram witnessing the death of 17 people in a similar incident last year, locals say police cannot feign ignorance of illicit liquor and must be held accountable for gross failure in surveillance and enforcement.

The police have so far arrested K Govindharaj alias Kannukutty, whom the locals refer to as ‘hooch king’ for selling liquor for several years, his wife G Vijaya and his brother K Thamodharan in connection with the tragedy.

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