It was the methanol in spurious liquor which was responsible for a large number of deaths in Ghaziabad in the past week, police said on Friday.
Police also claimed to have arrested the mastermind of the spurious-liquor tragedy and also gave an official ‘clean-chit’ to Karina brand liquor, earlier suspected to be behind the deaths.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Raghuvir Lal said that a total of 13 persons were arrested in connection with the spurious-liquor tragedy, including Tukki Pandit (58) and Bharmal Singh (42) -- who used methanol to re-fill empty Karina brand bottles and sold them.
“Both would be booked under the National Security Act (NSA). Two other accused are still absconding,” Lal said. “Test reports on the original Karina brand are clear,” he added.
On the other hand, Tukki Pandit the mastermind denied police allegations and said he was involved only in black-marketing of the brand.
“They just recovered 24 bottles of Karina from my house, which I had purchased and black-marketed at higher rates,” said Tukki Pandit.
However, police said the accused had connections with Ajay Gupta, a chemical supplier who was arrested on Sunday.
Lal added that several deaths took place in the same area in previous years due to the spurious-liquor mafia acting in connivance with corrupt officials.
“We came to know about a number of cases in the area but they went unreported and the mafia continued their business,” Lal stated.
Further, the death toll in the spurious liquor tragedy reached 25 according to police records.
However, figures by the district administration stood at 15 dead and 20 people hospitalised till Friday evening.
“There have been 15 deaths and 20 persons have been hospitalised in Ghaziabad district. Another 15 deaths were confirmed in Bulandshahar,” Commissioner (Meerut range), S.K.Sharma told HT.