In her first political reaction to the hooch tragedy, Congress general secretary in-charge of east Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party governments in UP and Uttarakhand for the death of more than 100 people.
In a written statement issued here on Sunday, Priyanka said the incident had saddened her and it showed that the state government had link with these incidents that took place at Saharanpur and Kushinagar districts in UP and Haridwar in Uttarakhand.
Priyanka said it was unbelievable that the business of illicit liquor was flourishing in UP and Uttarakhand under the patronage of the BJP governments
“I condemn the incident and demand from both the governments to provide adequate compensation and government jobs to the affected families,” she said.
The Congress leader also expressed grief at the death of such a large number of people in the hooch tragedy.
Spurious liquor containing toxic methanol has killed over 100 people in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Both the governments have suspended 35 officials, including 12 policemen, and arrested eight suspected bootleggers.
Majority of the deaths were reported from Balupur village in Haridwar which borders Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.
A senior police officer, Ashok Kumar, said that people from four villages on the border of Haridwar and Saharanpur attending the ‘terahvin’ had consumed liquor on Thursday night. “After the feast, the villagers returned to their villages but sometime at midnight, reports of people falling ill started pouring in,” he said on Saturday.
Kumar claimed that 13 people died in Balupur village alone. He said post-mortem and initial forensic reports suggested that the brew was laced with methanol.
“Some villagers, who had come from Saharanpur, also started falling sick and by Friday noon reports of death started pouring in,” he said.
District Magistrate of Saharanpur, Alok Kumar Pandey, said that one a villager of Umani Saharanpur Pintu had brought some pouches of liquor from Balupur and gave it to his friends. They consumed it along with Pintu and died.
In another incident, eight people died after consuming toxic brew in Kushinagar, 300 km south-east of Lucknow. The people had gone to attend a ceremony on Wednesday where they had consumed cheap liquor.