At least 38 people have lost their lives over the past 48 hours in three districts of Punjab allegedly after consuming spurious liquor.
The police have so far arrested eight persons in the case, said Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta on Friday. He also said a large quantity of spurious liquor, drums and cans were recovered from the accused. These have sent for for chemical analysis to check for content of spurious liquor.
While Balwinder Kaur and Mithu were arrested from Amritsar rural district, two persons identified as Darshan Rani and Rajan were nabbed from Batala district. Four others — Kashmir Singh, Angrez Singh, Amarjit and Baljit — were arrested from Tarn Taran. An FIR has been registered under Sections 304, 307 and 120 of the Indian Penal Code.
“As of Friday evening, 10 persons had died of spurious liquor consumption in Amritsar rural, nine in Batala and 19 in Tarn Taran. The death toll could rise further as the spurious liquor network was evidently spread across many areas,” said the DGP, adding that questioning of the accused could lead to further arrests.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered a magisterial inquiry by Divisional Commissioner, Jalandhar, into the suspicious deaths in Amritsar, Batala and Tarn Taran districts, said an official government statement.
SAD leader and former Minister Daljit Singh Cheema said the inquiry ordered by the Chief Minister was “too little, too late and would not serve any purpose”.
He alleged that the supply of spurious liquor was widespread across districts and required a thorough investigation by an independent agency. “The multiple hooch tragedies had exposed the under belly of the illegal liquor trade in Punjab. The government should also act on complaints of the people with reports suggesting that the police failed to act despite complaints about sale of spurious liquor in Muchhal,” he said.