Toll in Punjab’s worst hooch tragedy mounts to 86; 13 officials suspended
KILLER BREW 17 more arrested; Capt takes action against 7 excise officials, 2 DSPs, 4 SHOsUpdated: Aug 02, 2020 01:33 IST
The death toll in the Punjab spurious liquor tragedy mounted to 86 on Saturday even as chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh suspended seven excise officials and six policemen.
The state government also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for each of the families of the deceased, officials said.
Tarn Taran alone accounted for 63 deaths, followed by 12 in Amritsar and 11 in Gurdaspur’s Batala. Till Friday night, the state had reported 39 deaths in the tragedy unfolding since Wednesday night.
The chief minister announced the suspension of 13 officials during his weekly ‘Facebook Live’ interaction with public. Among the suspended officials are two deputy superintendents of police and four station house officers.
Strict action will be taken against any public servant or others found complicit in the case, said the chief minister, describing the police and excise department failure to check the manufacturing and sale of spurious liquor as shameful. Nobody will be allowed to get away with feeding poison to our people, he added.
Most of the people who lost lives in Tarn Taran district were from Naurangabad, Bhullar, Sangha, Pandoori Gola, Kakka Kandiala villages.
25 in police net so far
On Saturday, police arrested 17 more persons by conducting more than 100 raids in the three affected districts of Amritsar-rural, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran, along with several other places in and around Rajpura and Shambu border (Patiala). The total number of arrests in the case has gone up to 25 as eight persons were arrested on Friday.
A woman kingpin, a transport owner, a wanted criminal, a mastermind and owners/managers of various dhabas (from where the illicit liquor was being supplied) are among those arrested, said state police chief DGP Dinkar Gupta.
The raiding parties have also seized large quantities of ‘lahan’ ( raw material of illicit liquor) from various villages and dhabas in the region around Shambhu border, Rajpura and Patiala, he said, adding that the raids had exposed a massive racket extending across several districts. The eateries --- Zilmil Dhaba, Green Dhaba, Chhinda Dhaba (allin Patiala district) --- have been sealed.
750 litres ‘lahan’ seized
Police said 700 litres of ‘lahan’ was seized from Baghaura village from where two accused, Satnam and Rashem, who have been arrested. Their accomplice, identified as Lakhwinder, is absconding.
One Darshan Rani alias Faujan was arrested by Batala cops while another key accused Beeri of Deo village in Tarn Taran is also in police net for supplying t spurious alcohol.
Prem Singh, the owner of Azad Transport, and Bhinda (wanted by Tarn Taran Police) were arrested by Rajpura police in raids conducted today.
Govinderbir Singh, alias Gobinda of Jandiala City, who was bringing spurious liquor from Tarn Taran to Amritsar rural area has been identified as the racket mastermind. As per police, Gurpal Singh of Dhotian village in Tarn Taran, who was arrested in Phillaur on July 9 for smuggling of spirit, is believed to be the kingpin of the racket being run in Majha.
Protest by victims’ families
The family members of some of the victims protested outside the morgue of the Tarn Taran civil hospital on Saturday.
Bhullar village resident Kawaljit Kaur, whose brother-in-law Parkash Singh died after consuming spurious liquor, said, “The health authorities have kept 13 to 14 bodies in a morgue which is capable of storing only three.”