Hooch shadow on 7 deaths in Amritsar village; SIT formed, SHO suspended
Amritsar Police formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the death of seven villagers who died allegedly after consuming countrymade liquor in the last 24 hours. Six labourers and a farmer of Muchhal village, 30km from here, died between Wednesday night and Thursday evening after falling ill in a mysterious manner. Five of the victims were cremated without a post-mortem.
Taking note of the seriousness of the matter, senior superintendent of police (rural) Vikram Jeet Duggal placed Tarsikka SHO Bikramjit Singh under suspension for negligence. A woman resident of the village was also arrested on the suspicion of selling homemade liquor.
Those dead were identified as Dalbir Singh, 60; Balwinder Singh, 55; Kuldeep Singh, 24; Mangal Singh, 52; Baldev Singh, 45; Kashmir Singh, 75, and Kala Singh, 45. An eighth person, Joga Singh, 28, is critical at a private hospital. Joga Singh’s nephew Gurjant Singh said, “My uncle’s condition is serious. He and others had consumed homemade liquor on Wednesday night.”
Villagers and the kin of the victims blamed the authorities, saying little was being done to check the sale of illicit liquor which was available at dirt-cheap price in the area.
SSP (rural) Duggal said, “So far, six deaths are confirmed. We have arrested Balwinder Kaur of Muchhal on the suspicion of selling illicit liquor. A case under section 304 (culpable homicide) has also been registered against unidentified people at Tarsikka police station. SP (investigation) Gaurav Toora will lead the SIT to investigate the matter,” the SSP added.
Sarpanch Rajwinder Kaur’s husband Daljit Singh said that illicit liquor and intoxicants were a big problem in the village. “We have been lodging police complaints regularly,” he said. He, however, claimed, these deaths were unrelated to the menace. On why the panchayat didn’t ask the police to conduct the post-mortems, Daljit said, “The police had asked the victims’ family members to allow autopsies, but they didn’t agree.”
However, some people claimed police pressured families to cremate the dead. “Police reached the victims’ houses and pressured the families to conduct cremation and demands of some villagers for post-mortem were ignored. Family members of the victims say homemade liquor led to the deaths,” said Baz Singh, former sarpanch of the village.