Kallakurichi hooch tragedy: One more petition seeks CBI or SIT probe

Madras High Court will hear the petitions on Wednesday; Tamil Nadu govt to file action after taking report
AIADMK party members headed by chief whip and Thondamuthur MLA SP Velumani staged a protest condemning the DMK-led Tamil Nadu government over the Kallakurichi Hooch tragedy, in which more than 50 people died
AIADMK party members headed by chief whip and Thondamuthur MLA SP Velumani staged a protest condemning the DMK-led Tamil Nadu government over the Kallakurichi Hooch tragedy, in which more than 50 people diedFile photo | Express

CHENNAI: One more petition has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking an order for a detailed probe by CBI or a Special Investigation Team (SIT), to get to the bottom of the network which is spread over the neighbouring states and fix the responsibility of the government officers who were responsible for the hooch tragedy in Kallakurichi.

The public interest litigation petition was filed by advocate K Balu of PMK. When it came up for hearing on Tuesday, the first bench of Acting Chief Justice R Mahadevan and Justice Mohammed Shaffiq directed the Registry to tag it with the one already filed by the AIADMK. Both the petitions would come up for hearing on Wednesday.

Advocate General PS Raman informed the court that the state’s report on the action taken to crack down on illicit liquor manufacturing as well as sales and to prevent deaths due to such hooch tragedies was ready and would be filed before the court on Wednesday.

The petitioner alleged that due to the intervention of the local ministers and MLAs of the ruling party, the then district collector and the SP had suppressed the reason for the continuous death of people in Kallakurichi and on June 19, the collector Sravan Kumar Jatavath specifically stated that the initial death of a person was not due to consumption of illicit arrack but due to fits, dysentery and others factors.

These statements from the politicians and district administration led the people to believe the illicit arrack was not as dangerous as it truly as, he blamed.

“This misinformation resulted in more individuals consuming the illicit arrack leading to further cases of deaths,” he alleged.

Pointing out that some of the accused have deposed that they purchased the raw materials from the neighbouring states for brewing the liquor, Balu said the state police officials and the one-man commission lacks jurisdiction, and so, the CBI or an SIT only can probe the tragedy in detail.

He accused the Prohibition Enforcement Wing in Kallakurichi knowingly allowing the supply of illicit arrack in large quantity and just transferring the errant officials would not make up for the loss of the lives but they are liable for prosecution.

During the last hearing, the court rapped the state government for its failure to learn lessons from the past hooch tragedies and take up preventive measures in order to save the lives of the poor people who died after consuming the illicit liquor.

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