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Barabanki hooch deaths | ‘Raids last month gave clues but no follow-up led to tragedy’: Sources

Sources said both the departments did no follow-up on arrested persons’ claim that spurious liquor was also being sold in branded country-made liquor bottles at shops authorised by the excise department.

india Updated: May 29, 2019 13:27 IST
Rohit Kumar Singh
Rohit Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
barabanki hooch tragedy,barabanki spurious liquor deaths,UP excise dept
Patients taken ill by consuming spurious liquor being moved on push cart inside district hospital at Barabanki, May 28, 2019. (Dheeraj Dhawan / HT Photo )

The liquor tragedy in Barabanki, in which 14 people died and around 47 others took ill on Tuesday, could have been averted if the excise and police department officials had acted further on raids in which spurious liquor was seized and two people were arrested on April 14.

Sources said both the departments did no follow-up on arrested persons’ claim that spurious liquor was also being sold in branded country-made liquor bottles at shops authorised by the excise department.

“The negligence of excise officials allowed the business of spurious liquor flourish in Barabanki villages, resulting into the Tuesday tragedy,” said a local leader and former Samajwadi Party minister Arvind Singh Gope.

Gope claimed the officials did not wake up even after police seized spurious liquor packaged in branded bottles.

He said the illicit liquor manufacturing and sale has become more prevalent as the excise officials have failed to check the operation of authorised country-made liquor shops.

Confirming the details of seizure, superintendent of police (SP) Barabanki, Ajay Sahni confirmed that the police had made a seizure of spurious liquor, chemicals, empty bottles with wrapper of registered countrymade liquor brands, Power House, Windies, Fighter and Bobby, in Fatehpur police area on April 14.

He also confirmed that two persons — Uttam Kumar Jaiswal and Vipin Kumar Jaiswal of Maulviganj village — were arrested.

Sahni said the two accused had revealed that they earlier used to operate authorised country-made liquor shops but failed to get the licence this time.

“The duo started manufacturing spurious liquor by adding chemicals in recognised brands to make it more potent. They supplied this more potent spurious liquor after packaging it in bottles with wrappers of different brands. They sealed it with machines as the original bottles are sealed and paste its hologram to pose it as original brand liquor,” he explained.

He said at least 1,773 filled bottles of quarter with wrappers of Power House and Windies, 690 empty bottles, over 10,000 wrappers of different brands, two machines to put on seal on caps of bottles were seized.

Over 20 litres of spurious liquor was also seized from their possession, he added.

The SP said the details of the arrest and seizure was given to the excise officials for further investigation.

Also Read | ‘Alcohol took everything from us’: Barabanki hooch tragedy victim’s kin

Monu, whose father Chote Lal and three brothers lost lives in the incident, also claimed the team of excise officials had recovered large amount of empty bottles of different brands, syringes and holograms at a deserted place merely 250 meters away from the countrymade liquor shop in Raniganj village market.

“The victims of Tuesday tragedy had purchased liquor from the same shop,” he added, while insisting that the recovery clearly suggested that spurious liquor was sold from the authorised country-made liquor shops.

A senior police official privy of investigation said the initial probe hinted that the spurious liquor was sold from the authorised shop.

He said the investigation also suggested that condition of only those people deteriorated who had consumed the liquor from the same shop for two consecutive days, on Sunday and Monday.

He said the increased content of methanol in liquor, which is not brewed properly, can prove fatal.

“Methanol is also added in trace amounts to increase the potency of liquor,” he added.

First Published: May 29, 2019 13:27 IST