Hooch toll 170, politicians begin blame game | india | Hindustan Times
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Hooch toll 170, politicians begin blame game

The last body is yet to be counted in the Bengal hooch tragedy, but political mudslinging has already begun, with Trinamool Congress accusing the CPM of engineering the plot to divert attention from last week's fire at Kolkata's AMRI hospital.

india Updated: Dec 17, 2011 00:55 IST
HT Correspondent

The last body is yet to be counted in the Bengal hooch tragedy, but political mudslinging has already begun, with Trinamool Congress accusing the CPM of engineering the plot to divert attention from last week's fire at Kolkata's AMRI hospital.

On Friday, the toll climbed to 170. Many more are still in hospitals.

In Sangrampur, villagers claim at least 10 bodies have been cremated without postmortem, which keeps them outside the official death toll.

"Postmortem has been conducted on 164 bodies. Another six are waiting," said Sikha Adhikari, chief medical officer, health, South 24 Parganas.

The viscera report of the state forensic laboratory indicated that the hooch the victims drank contained 60% methyl alcohol.

"In normal alcohol, ethyl alcohol overdose kills one in 20,000 cases. We are yet to pinpoint what was the case in Sangrampur," said Dhurjati Prasad Sengupta, director, state forensic laboratory.

So far, 12 persons have been arrested, though the main culprit, Khora Badshah, is yet to be traced.

On Thursday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee kicked off the political storm in the assembly, hinting that Badshah owes his allegiance to the CPM.

Moving a step further, commerce and industry minister Partha Chatterjee accused the CPM of masterminding the Sangrampur incident.

On Friday, Union minister of state for shipping Mukul Roy and Union minister of state for health Sudip Bandyopadhyay alleged that the Sangrampur incident was pre-planned.

"We believe the CPM deliberately mixed poison (with the hooch). This was done to divert attention from the AMRI disaster, where the top bosses of the hospital were closely linked with CPM leaders," said Bandyopadhyay.

"It is alleged that Khora Badshah was earlier with the CPM but is now working for Trinmaool. If this is true, then Trinamool managed in six months what took us 34 years," said senior CPM leader Shyamal Chakraborty.

The Left leaders staged a protest in the assembly over Chatterjee's remarks. The speaker, however, did not entertain them, as his statement was not made on the floor of the house.

They are likely to meet Governor MK Narayanan to protest against the comments.

Hooch kingpin lived in Baruipur's poshest locality
The one-storied house stood locked in a sprawling 7-katha (5,040 sq ft) compound. A thin ray of light pierced through the window. This building in Paikpara, the most posh locality of Baruipur, belongs to Khora Badshah, alias Nurul Islam Fakir, key suspect in the Sangrampur hooch tragedy.

One of the kingpins of the hooch manufacturing and distributing units of South 24 Parganas, Badshah wanted to expand his business to Baruipur and was spending more time here, police said.

"He used to live here with his second wife and children," said a neighbour, Nazma. His wife had fled on Thursday afternoon with daughter Sona, 12 and sons Anwar, 9 and Imran, 7. "The family was notorious, but we never dared to lodge a complaint. I will be happy if the police can ensure that he doesn't return," said Abdul Zabbar, another neighbour.