Saran hooch tragedy death toll mounts to 52; villagers stage protest

Dec 30, 2022 08:28 PM IST

Out of the 52, the administration has taken possession of 34 bodies from their relatives for postmortem, while the remaining bodies were understood to have been hastily cremated.

The death toll in the hooch tragedy mounted to 52 on Friday with more people succumbing to death after consumption of spurious liquor on Tuesday night in Bahrauli panchayat of Masrakh in Bihar’s Saran district.

Family members of the deceased demand probe into liquor trade in the state (HT Photo/Santosh Kumar)
Family members of the deceased demand probe into liquor trade in the state (HT Photo/Santosh Kumar)

The sale and consumption of liquor were banned by the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government in 2016.

Also Read: Disruptions in Parliament over Bihar hooch tragedy, Arunachal Pradesh clashes

Out of the 52, the administration has taken possession of 34 bodies from their relatives for postmortem, while the remaining bodies were understood to have been hastily cremated.

Police said after three more villagers died on Friday morning, angry family members took to the streets to protest against the government and demanded action against those involved in the illegal trade of liquor.

According to the police, the protestors blocked the Bheldi-Amnaur state highway104 linking Patna, Siwan and Muzaffarpur near Amnaur police station and disrupted vehicular traffic for more than six hours.

“They raised slogans against the police and administration for their alleged nexus with the liquor mafia. They alleged some white collars are running the illegal liquor manufacturing unit in the area for the last few years with the connivance of local police and excise official,” a police officer said.

“Officials are aware of the illegal trade but never bothered to stop it. The smuggling and sale of liquor take place with the connivance of the local police and excise department, and it goes on unabated,” said one of the protestors.

Saran district magistrate Rajesh Meena said the admitted persons consumed spurious liquor, but the actual cause of death will be determined after autopsy.

“I have got reports about the deaths and the investigation is on. The trail of spirit smuggling to the area is being established,” he said adding, “34 postmortems have been performed in Chapra’s Sadar Hospital and Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) until now. The actual reason of deaths will be ascertained after the autopsy, FSL and probe reports.”

The Bihar police headquarters claimed that at least 83 liquor/spirit mafias, including 16 from Haryana, 28 from Jharkhand, 16 from Uttar Pradesh, nine from West Bengal, four from Delhi, two from Arunachal Pradesh, three from Assam and five from Punjab were arrested from outside of the state between November 2021 to January 2022.

Also Read: Saran hooch tragedy: Spotlight on Masrakh after mid-day meal tragedy of 2013

Following Tuesday’s hooch tragedy, Masrakh station house officer (SHO) Ritesh Mishra and constable Vikesh Tiwari were suspended immediately.

Most deaths have occurred over Wednesday and Thursday creating an uproar both at the state and national level with the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coming down heavily on CM Nitish.

On Thursday, when Nitish was questioned regarding the Hooch tragedy by the opposition, the chief minister while speaking to the media said, “jo peega, woh marega” (whoever will drink, they will die).

Meanwhile, the BJP has also demanded the chief minister’s resignation over the incident and called his statement insensitive.

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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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