Saran hooch tragedy: Toll climbs to 15, SHO suspended

Updated on Jan 22, 2022 03:59 AM IST
Bihar, where total liquor ban has been in force since April 2016, has seen a number of hooch tragedies in quick succession over the last few months alone.
Bihar, where total liquor ban has been in force since April 2016, has seen a number of hooch tragedies in quick succession over the last few months alone. (Picture for representation)
Bihar, where total liquor ban has been in force since April 2016, has seen a number of hooch tragedies in quick succession over the last few months alone. (Picture for representation)
By, Hindustan Times, Saran

With the death of nine more persons since Thursday night, the toll in alleged hooch tragedies in two villages of Bihar’s Saran district climbed to 15 on Friday, locals and police sources said.

Bihar, where total liquor ban has been in force since April 2016, has seen a number of hooch tragedies in quick succession over the last few months alone.

“Late Thursday night, a police team raided liquor manufacturing unit and arrested its owner Birendra alias Maina Mahto, his associates Banarsi Rai and two others,” Saran superintendent of police (SP) Santosh Kumar said. Birendra was facing at least four cases of liquor smuggling and was released from jail on December 23 last year, he said.

Following the seizure of ingredients used to make spurious liquor, the SP suspended the station house officer of Maker police station, Rajesh Prasad, and chowkidar of Jagdishpur village for dereliction of duty. “The chowkidar was later arrested and sent to judicial custody. His role has come under scanner on suspicions that the illegal liquor manufacturing unit ran with his connivance,” the SP said.

The raids were conducted after Saran district magistrate Rajesh Meena and SP Kumar, along with excise officials, visited one of the affected villages.

“Urmila Devi, wife of one of the deceased, Birendra Thakur, showed them a plastic container with alleged liquor which her husband brought from Jagdishpur-Janta Bazar and consumed,” said a family member.

Meanwhile, there were heart-rending scenes in the affected villages.

In Parmanandpur-Chhapra falling under Amnaur police station area, Gunjan Singh, father of one of the hooch victims, Mithilesh Singh, told HT that his son had consumed liquor and died on way to the hospital on Friday morning after vomiting blood.

Another man, Suraj Kumar Rajak of Tarapur village, who was admitted to a Patna hospital after he lost his vision, died Friday morning. “My son was tired after hard physical labour and consumed liquor at Janata Bazar before coming home on Wednesday,” said Meera Devi, fighting tears.

These deaths, which occurred in a group of villages under the jurisdiction of Amnour, Maker, Bheldi and Marhaura police stations, come close on the heels of 13 hooch deaths in chief minister’s native Nalanda district last week.

As per the data provided by the state police headquarters, from January till November 2021, a total of 13,439 vehicles were caught carrying liquor in Bihar. During the same period, 4,198,523 litres of liquor were seized in the state.

Officials, however, continue to dispute hooch deaths.

Saran district magistrate Rajesh Meena said that deaths caused by spurious liquor could be proved either by investigation or medical examination. He, however, said the last rites of many of the deceased have been performed, which was proving to be an obstacle in determining the exact cause of deaths.

Earlier, Marhaura subdivisional police officer Indrajit Baitha, who visited the villages, had emphatically rejected spurious liquor as the cause behind deaths. “They might have died due to severe cold. Someone may have spread rumours over the deaths,” he had said.

Meanwhile, Satyadeo Ram, CPI (Marxist-Leninist) MLA from Darauli, the local assembly constituency where the latest hooch deaths took place, said he had visited the victims’ families and they confirmed that their kin had consumed hooch and developed complications. “Facts cannot change just because the administration as usual remains in denial mode,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Avinash, a senior correspondent, reports on crime, railways, defence and social sector, with specialisation in police, home department and other investigation agencies.

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