CHANDIGARH: Punjab Hooch tragedy, the death toll continues to rise and it mounted to 86 on Saturday; seven excise officials, six policemen were suspended in connection with the incident. Most of the deaths are from Tarn Taran that accounts for 63 deaths, followed by 12 in Amritsar and 11 in Gurdaspur’s Batala.
Twenty-five people have been arrested so far. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said that strict action should be taken against anyone found to be involved in the case. The government declared that Rs 2 lakh will be compensated for each of the families of the deceased. He has ordered an inquiry against seven excise and taxation officers and inspectors, along with two DSPs and 4 SHOs of police who are involved in the case.
On Saturday, the Punjab Police arrested 17 more people in a major crackdown involving more than 100 raids. The total number of arrests in the case has risen to 25.
The Chief Minister asserted that, "I directed the police to trace down the guilty parties and charge all the people who are involved in the case; ordered a magisterial inquiry by the Divisional Commissioner who has been asked to send his report within a month. Such unlawful actions are not appropriate, and I will not let people die to the greed of a few criminals."
According to the Excise Commissioner, while details of the chemical analysis of the substance confiscated in Saturday's raids had yet to arrive, a superficial search revealed that the substance was Denatured Spirit, commonly used in the paint / hardware industry.
Badal in a statement said that, "The tragedy of the hooch is the direct and inevitable consequence of the patronage provided to Congress leaders, including ministers and MLAs, for carrying out illicit trade of liquor in the state." He demanded, "It's a murder, pure and simple. All the guilty ones, including ministers and ruling party MLAs, must be arrested."
In response, the Chief Minister asked him not to politicise the tragedy by claiming that similar type of cases have had also occurred under the Akali Dal-BJP government as well, citing similar tragedies in Gurdaspur and Batala in 2012 and 2016.
The Chief Minister said that many lives were lost in those incidents as well and added that no FIR had been lodged and no action had been taken against the main accused.