2,500 arrested in major Gujarat crackdown after hooch tragedy killed 42: Police
Gujarat’s hooch tragedy came to light early Monday morning when some people living in Rojid village of Botad and other surrounding villages were referred to government hospitals
The Gujarat police arrested 2,500 people and seized illicit liquor worth about ₹1.5 crore during the statewide crackdown against bootleggers ordered after the tragic death of 42 people in Ahmedabad and Botad districts due to spurious liquor this week, a senior state police officer said.
A statewide drive has been carried out to enforce prohibition and 198 cases were registered for selling Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and 191 accused were arrested in the last 48 hours. For country-made liquor, 3,971 cases have been registered and 2,405 accused have been arrested, Narsimha Komar, additional director general of police (law and order), said.
The hooch tragedy came to light early Monday morning when some people living in Rojid village of Botad and other surrounding villages were referred to government hospitals in Barvala area and Botad towns with deteriorating health conditions.
There are close to 97 people undergoing treatment at different hospitals in the state after consuming poisonous chemical that was mixed with water and sold to them under the guise of country-made liquor. Three of them are in critical condition, said officials of police department.
The police officer said the district superintendents of police (SPs) of Botad and Ahmedabad Rural districts, Karanraj Vaghela and Virendra Singh Yadav, respectively have also been transferred out, and six police personnel were suspended over the tragedy.
Ahmedabad Rural SP Yadav has been transferred as commandant, metro security- 1 in Ahmedabad and Dr Vaghela appointed as commandant, protection of Government Properties, Gandhinagar.
The six suspended officers include deputy superintendent of police Botad division SK Trivedi, and DSP NV Patel, Dholka division, Ahmedabad rural, Dhandhuka circle police inspector Suresh Chaudhary, Dhandhuka police inspector KP Jadeja, Ranpur sub inspector Shailendrasinh Rana, Barwala SI BG Vala were suspended for dereliction of duty.
Three first information reports (FIRs) have been registered against nearly 20 people, under sections 302 (murder), 328 (causing hurt by poison) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. Forensic reports showed the substance consumed by the deceased contained 99% methyl alcohol.
Gujarat is a ‘dry’ state where the manufacture, sale and consumption of liquor is banned. According to the Gujarat Prohibition Act, police can arrest a person for purchasing, consuming, or serving alcohol without a permit with punishment ranging from three months to five years in prison.
According to investigators, a person identified as Jayesh aka Raju stole 600 litres of methyl alcohol from a chemical company’s godown in Ahmedabad’s Aslali area where he worked as a manager. He then sold it to his Botad-based cousin Sanjay for ₹40,000 on July 25, who sold the alcohol to local bootleggers including a woman. The pouches in which the chemical was packed were sold for ₹20-40 each.
“We have arrested 15 persons so far in connection with this incident and carried out an operation in which we have recovered 550 litres of the methyl alcohol that was stolen and sold by the accused through a network. The seizure of such a large quantity has dramatically minimized the potential damage,” said Komar.
He said the police reached out to the victims, many of who had gone into hiding after they started falling ill. “Some people hid in fields and others hid in houses of relatives. We reached out to most of them and saw that they got proper treatment,” Komar said.
The Gujarat home department has formed a three-member committee headed by senior Indian Police Service officer Subhash Trivedi to conduct a detailed inquiry into the incident and submit a report within three days, a state government release said. The other two members of the committee are Prohibition and Excise director, MA Gandhi, and Gujarat Forensic Science Laboratory director, HP Sanghvi.
Komar said the committee’s findings will be out in a day or two.
Get Current Updates on India News, Narendra Modi Live Updates along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world