Mandi hooch tragedy: Facing heat, Congress expels Hamirpur general secretary
Facing heat over the Mandi hooch tragedy case, the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) has expelled its Hamirpur district general secretary after he was found involved in the illegal liquor trade.
Hamirpur district Congress president Rajendra Zar said that Neeraj Thakur has been removed from the post of district general secretary after his name cropped up in the case. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the state police had confiscated illicit liquor from Thakur’s premises in Hamirpur.
Thakur was a panchayat up-pradhan from 2011 to 2016, and was a claimant to the Congress ticket for assembly polls from the Hamirpur assembly segment.
He was arrested from Chandigarh on Saturday evening after nine boxes of illegal liquor were seized from his commercial complex in Hamirpur.
It is learnt that he was trying to escape to Nepal even as he was told not to leave the state. Batches of liquor seized from his commercial complex are being matched with the batch recovered in Sundernagar where seven people died after consuming spurious liquor.
Initial investigation revealed that Thakur owned 17 liquor vends, a hotel and property worth crores.
The SIT is scrutinising papers of his property. It was revealed that Thakur worked as a salesman in a liquor vend about a decade ago and amassed property worth crores through illegal trade.
Five more arrested
Meanwhile, the SIT has arrested four more people in the case. They have been identified as Praveen Thakur, who owned the illegal factory in Hamirpur, his workers Pushpendra and Sunny; AK Tripathi, who supplied the formula and Sagar Saini, the spirit supplier. A total of 13 people have been arrested in the case so far.
The deputy inspector general of police (DIG) Madhu Sudan, who heads the Special Investigation Team (SIT), said that they were trying to track down the consignments of liquor supplied in various districts. He said that the accused used methanol instead of ethanol in the illegal liquor which led to the fatalities.
Meanwhile, it was also revealed in the investigation that Narender, alias Kalul, a key player in the illicit liquor trade, amassed property worth crores in a few years.
He came from a humble family and used to ply an autorickshaw in Sundernagar. He also worked as a private bus driver. He came into contact with some people involved in the illegal trade. Police have seized five buses, two trucks and two JCB machines.
The kingpin of the case Gaurav Manhas, who hails from Panchrukhi in Palampur of Kangra, has also amassed property worth crores through illegal trade. He has many cases registered against him in many districts of the state.
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