The Uttar Pradesh government admitted in the Assembly on Wednesday that 78 people had died after consuming illicit liquor in the state in 2019 and stern action had been taken against the guilty people.
Excise Minister Jai Pratap Singh said 40,458 incidents of illegal and adulterated liquors were registered in the state since 2018 and FIRs against 15,383 people were lodged under different sections of the Excise Act.
Replying to a question of Samajwadi Party member Ujjawal Raman Singh and others, the minister said that in 2019, the highest number of hooch deaths was reported in Saharanpur where 36 people died, followed by 24 such deaths in Barabanki, 10 deaths in Kanpur and eight in Kushinagar.
He said in 2018, at least 30 people died in UP due to hooch while in 2017, at least 26 people died in Azamgarh alone after consuming spurious liquor.
The minister said that the government had now amended the law and the people involved in sale/brewing of hooch and other illegal activities could get death and life sentence and the liquor shop licence could get cancelled in the first offence. He pointed out that earlier, there was a penalty for the first offence and licence was cancelled in the third offence.
The minister said that in 2018, around 14.38 lakh litres of spurious liquor was seized of which around 12 lakh litres was stored at different police station.
Ujjawal Ram Singh questioned the government action when minister said there was a nexus between mafia, police and excise officials due to which incidents related to hooch were not stopping in the state.
“It is the government’s responsibility to check bootlegging in UP,” the SP member said.
Congress leader Ajay Kumar Lalu asked the minister to elaborate on the nexus between mafia, police and officials and asked who were these people.
SP member Sanjay Kumar Garg said that though the government claimed that 36 people died after consuming hooch in Saharanpur, the toll was much higher. “The government is concealing the deaths because it does not want to give compensation to others,” he said.
There are over 36,000 licensed liquor shops in the state of which 40 per cent are selling country-made liquor.