Saran hooch tragedy: Toll climbs to 15, SHO suspended
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.
The water level of the Yamuna river breached the danger mark of 205.33 metres in Delhi following heavy rain in upper catchment areas, prompting authorities to chalk out a strategy to evacuate people from low-lying areas. The Delhi flood control room said the water level reached 205.38 metres at 4 pm on Friday. It had issued a warning on Thursday night.
Parking facilities at Delhi Metro stations will not be available from Sunday morning till Monday afternoon in view of security measures adopted for Independence Day, the transporter said. Metro train services will continue to run as per schedule, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation said on Friday. On Thursday, the Delhi Police also issued a traffic advisory to ensure smooth vehicular movement across the capital on Independence Day.
In view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement to observe August 14 as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day (Vibhajan Vibhishika Smriti Diwas), the Haryana government will hold the state-level programme at Kurukshetra. “The pain can never be forgotten. No Partition is devoid of tribulations but the story of India has been more traumatic,” Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said in a statement. One such memorial has also been built at Badkhal in Faridabad.
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