The toll in Mumbai's worst hooch tragedy rose to 102 on Monday with the death of five more victims who consumed spurious liquor in suburban Malwani area and another 46 undergoing treatment in hospitals. Eight of them have been struggling to survive serious ill-effects of the killer brew.
Squarely blaming the BJP-led government for the tragedy, Opposition Congress asked chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to step down owning moral responsibility and demanded a CBI inquiry into it.
So far seven persons have been arrested in the case and eight police and four excise officials suspended. All of those arrested are in police custody.
Stepping up the heat, Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said, "Excise minister should take responsibility of this tragedy and quit. Since the home department is with the chief minister he should also resign."
Lamenting that the state does not have a full-fledged home minister, he said when the death toll is increasing on hourly basis the CM was busy doing Yoga.
"Since the onus for the death of over 100 people lay at the chief minister's door step, he should resign," he said.
He added when a similar tragedy happened in Vikhroli in 2004, claiming over 87 lives, the then Congress-NCP government had suspended the local DCP and raided and shut illegal distillaries across Mumbai. After the BJP-led government came to power, the spurious liquor trade had flourished and now there are about 1000 hooch dens, he alleged.
Rattled by the tragedy that occurred at the Laxmi Nagar slum in suburban Malwani on Wednesday night, excise minister Eknath Khadse said the government would bring in a harsher law to deal with the menace with provisions to ensure that those arrested for distilling and selling illicit liquor would not get bail for at least for one year after their arrest.
"Since January this year, 117 raids have been conducted in Malad and nearby areas in suburban Mumbai. Several people have been arrested. But, they have been let off on bail of Rs 2,000. The need of the hour is to make stringent laws," he said.
Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra legislative assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who visited the kin of the victims, demanded resignation of Khadse.
"The loss of lives is also due to the negligence of the Shatabdi Hospital run by the municipal corporation," and wanted the hospital authorities and health officer of the ward be booked for homicide.
In Malad: 1 dead, 1 in hospital
As the Mumbai police cracks down on liquor dens across Mumbai, one person died in Malad on Monday, while another was hospitalised. Police suspect they may have consumed ‘spurious liquor’.
Malad police has identified the deceased as Jaypal Durgaj, while Rajpal Bildan is recuperating in the ICU of Shatabdi hospital. “One person died after drinking liquor as per preliminary information. We are investigating from where and when he purchased the liquor,” said Milind Khetle, senior inspector at the Malad police station.
Both Durgaj and Bildan are municipal workers and residents of Ghuriyapada area in Malad (West). Sources said their blood samples will be sent for a chemical analysis.
HT reported on Monday how the sale of hooch continues in Malwani. The Malad police had also initiated a crackdown on liquor dens in the slums.
(Inputs from HT Correspondent)