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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Ghaziabad: Four suspects in Khoda spurious liquor case surrender

Four of them — Mandal, Rana, Bunty and Khari — surrendered at a Ghaziabad court on Wednesday.

noida Updated: Mar 28, 2018 22:50 IST
Peeyush Khandelwal
Peeyush Khandelwal
Hindustan Times
Sunil, his mother Neelam, used to run a grocery store, a front for selling spurious liquor, residents said.
Sunil, his mother Neelam, used to run a grocery store, a front for selling spurious liquor, residents said.(Sakib Ali/HT Photo)

On Wednesday, four of the eight persons, who allegedly sold spurious liquor that led to the death of four persons in Khoda on March 13, surrendered at a Ghaziabad court.

The police said they are among the biggest ‘distributors’ of liquor to local operators.

The police were on the lookout for Bunty Kaliya, Mintu Masala, Jitendra Yadav, Ravi Yadav, Ravi Khari, Bunty Chauhan, Dilip Rana and Ranjit Mandal, the prime suspects of liquor smuggling and also allegedly preparing spurious liquor with the help of urea.

Four of them — Mandal, Rana, Bunty and Khari — surrendered at a Ghaziabad court on Wednesday.

The eight men gave police the slip on March 27 and left behind a consignment of smuggled and spurious liquor, besides urea, which is used in preparing spurious liquor.

“We have eight persons on our radar and four of these surrendered at a Ghaziabad court on Wednesday due to police pressure. They surrendered as we initiated legal proceedings for confiscation of their properties and procuring non-bailable warrants. We have formed teams to nab them and will not allow them to operate anymore,” Dharmendra Chauhan, circle officer (Indirapuram), said.

However, family members of the victims of Khoda tragedy suspect that the bigger operators might be back in the business, as they are yet to be arrested by the police and only four of them had surrendered.

Shri Niwas, a 40-year-old tractor-trolley driver, is back with his family from the hospital and is the only survivor of the Khoda spurious liquor tragedy that claimed four lives. His 35-year-old brother Ravinder had also died on March 13 and he said the smugglers will not hold back for too long and will soon be back in business.

Following the four deaths, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath took cognizance of the issue. The police already had eight bigger operators on their radar but none of them has been arrested.

“I have an impaired vision in one of my eyes since the day I consumed the liquor. My body has become weak and I am hardly unable to move out of bed. The livelihood is also lost. I remember that I purchased the sealed liquor bottle from one Phulwa, who sold it to us for Rs50. She operates from her house,” Shri said.

“She had been in business for two-three years but you will find many such people who sell liquor illegally. It is because of dense population and people wanting ready liquor availability that the business is flourishing. Since the four deaths, the local operators have vanished but for how long?” he said.

Ashok Prasad, 45, Avnesh, 28, and his brother Sandeep, 18, had also died, allegedly, due to consumption of the spurious liquor. After the suspension of four policemen and three staff from the excise department, the police lodged three FIRs and arrested local operators Sunil, his mother Neelam, Sudhir and Phulwa.

Vinod Singh Bihari, a Khoda resident, said that apart from flourishing liquor smuggling and sale from households, the liquor mafia is also in cahoots with the local police.

“The liquor is sold in a number of households across the area. It is a flourishing business here due to high demand for countrymade liquor and also because the area is next to Delhi, where liquor is cheaper than that in UP. The local population is mostly poor and would purchase cheaper, smuggled liquor. The bigger smugglers also have bouncers who will beat up people if they resist. The idea is to let the business flourish,” he said.

Khoda, which has an estimated population of 5-6 lakh, has only 16 licensed liquor shops while smuggled liquor is often seized by police and teams of excise officials. A majority of residents here are workers from different cities of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Yogesh Bhati, the younger brother of slain BJP leader Gajendra Bhati, said the business of smuggled liquor helps the smugglers make about Rs10 lakh every month.

“Most of the liquor is brought here from Haryana, where it is cheaper than even in Delhi. We had protested a month ago at the police station but the activity resumed after a couple of days. Liquor smuggling has flourished and is done openly. It should be curbed, as residents have understood its implications after four deaths,” he said.

Gynendra Tripathi, the district excise officer, said, “We suspect the Khoda incident could be a fallout of rivalry between the liquor mafia groups or even to create a mischief in Khoda. It is a case of spurious liquor and the forensic reports are awaited. An inquiry report by state officials is also awaited. The spurious liquor can be easily be filled in empty bottles and again sealed to be sold again at cheaper prices.”

First Published: Mar 28, 2018 22:50 IST