Uttar Pradesh: Four hooch tragedies in less than a year, ‘not enough action’ | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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Uttar Pradesh: Four hooch tragedies in less than a year, ‘not enough action’

The two back-to-back hooch tragedies reported from Kanpur and Kanpur Dehat on Saturday and Sunday are the fourth since July last year. The BJP has been in power in the state during this period.

lucknow Updated: May 21, 2018 13:47 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Grieving women in MAdhauli village where six persons died after consuming spurious liquor, in Kanpur Dehat.
Grieving women in MAdhauli village where six persons died after consuming spurious liquor, in Kanpur Dehat.(PTI Photo)

The two back-to-back hooch tragedies reported from Kanpur and Kanpur Dehat on Saturday and Sunday are the fourth since July last year. The BJP has been in power in the state during this period.

Despite the Yogi Adityanath government sounding tough against liquor mafia and illicit manufacturers of the heady brew, the government’s reaction was similar to an action replay each time a tragedy unfolded, people familiar with the developments said.

This time, deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma visited Kanpur and spoke of action against illicit liquor manufacturers.

“Rest assured, the guilty will be booked and dealt with sternly,” Sharma said.

In January this year, a hooch tragedy in Barabanki coincided with the state government’s move to amend the Excise Act and provide for death penalty to manufacturers of illicit liquor in cases where death occurs.

Barring a few suspensions, including those of lower rung police and excise officers, and monetary compensation to the next of kin of the dead, nothing much happened.

The Barabanki incident was preceded by a hooch tragedy in Azamgarh where nearly 25 people had died due to spurious liquor in July last year. Again, nothing much happened.

Hooch tragedies aren’t new to UP. Since 2010, more than 130 people have died in about seven big incidents reported from various parts of the state including Lucknow, Kanpur, Azamgarh, Etah and Barabanki. There have been few smaller, lesser noticed incidents in which fewer deaths have taken place.

In 2016, the then Akhilesh Yadav government had asked the special task force (STF) to curb illegal sale and manufacture of liquor. The STF had even arrested some illicit manufacturers who were involved in the sale in eastern UP.

Two of the accused arrested by STF had admitted that they had set up an illicit liquor unit in Gorakhpur’s Chauri Chaura locality in 2012. They had even set up an illicit liquor unit in Basti and in Ambedkarnagar.

“The problem is that the governments haven’t shown enough intent to go after illicit manufacturers. A stern law, even providing death penalty, is now in place. But, since the death penalty provision was introduced, 17 people have fallen prey to the killer brew. If the governments actually want to go after the mafia, they should first provide us with vehicles, firearms and protection required to engage the heavily armed liquor mafia,” an excise department officer said.

In January, the Yogi government had run a campaign against those officials who had been posted in a district for long. A crackdown on liquor mafia too had begun.

But, after the initial push and a joint probe by excise and home department, the effort died down, those privy to the development said.