At least 38 persons have died in Punjab’s three districts allegedly after drinking spurious liquor, prompting the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to order a magisterial probe into the matter on Friday.
The deaths took place in Punjab’s Amritsar, Batala and Tarn Taran districts since Wednesday night. As on Friday evening, 10 persons had died of spurious liquor consumption in Amritsar Rural, nine in Batala and 19 in Tarn Taran.
The Punjab Police on Friday arrested seven bootleggers from Amritsar Rural, Batala, and Tarn Taran districts in over 40 raids conducted by five teams led by senior officers, taking the total number of persons apprehended so far in the spurious liquor deaths case to eight, including Balwinder Kaur, who was arrested last night from Muchhal village.
Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta said that the first five fatalities were reported from Mucchal and Tangra villages in Amritsar’s Tarsikka on the night of July 29.
“On Thursday evening, two more people died under suspicious circumstances at Amritsar’s Muchhal village. One person died at Sri Guru Ram Das Hospital in Amritsar after being shifted from Tangra. Two more deaths were later reported from Mucchal village while another two people died in Batala, also due to consumption of spurious liquor,” he added.
On Friday, five people died in Batala, taking the death toll in the city to seven, said Gupta, adding that four fatalities were reported from Tarn Taran.
Taking note, Capt Amarinder ordered a magisterial enquiry by the Jalandhar Divisional Commissioner to look into the facts and circumstances leading to the incidents.
The enquiry will be conducted by the Jalandhar Divisional Commissioner along with the Punjab Joint Excise and Taxation Commissioner and the SP (Investigation) in the concerned districts.
The Chief Minister has given the Divisional Commissioner the liberty to co-opt any civil or police officer or any expert to facilitate the expeditious conduct of the probe.
Promising strict action against anyone found complicit in the case, the Chief Minister has directed the police to launch a search operation to crack down on any spurious liquor manufacturing unit operating in the State.
The post-mortem of four people - Jaswinder Singh, Kashmir Singh, Kirpal Singh and Jaswant Singh - will be conducted to ascertain the exact cause of their death.
“A huge quantity of spurious liquor, drums, storage cans etc have been recovered from the accused and the same have been sent for chemical analysis to check for constituents of spurious liquor,” said the DGP.
“More arrests are likely,” he said, adding that raids were continuing and the police teams would continue to crack down on all those involved in the case to unravel the extend of the spurious liquor mafia operating in the region.
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, namely Kashmir Singh, Angrez Singh, Amarjit and Baljit, have been arrested from Tarn Taran.
An FIR, dated July 31, 2020, has been registered under sections 304, 307 (attempt to murder), 120 (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC at Police Station Sadar Tarn Taran against the four accused arrested from the district, said the DGP, adding that the bootleggers had admitted to supplying spurious liquor in Norangabad village.
Mithu, who was arrested from Jasso Nangal village, under Khilchian police station, has also admitted to his role in the supply of spurious liquor, said the DGP.
DGP apprehends that the death toll could rise further as the spurious liquor network was evidently spread across many areas. “Questioning of the arrested accused is expected to lead to further arrests in the case,” he added.