CM orders magisterial probe, Sunny Deol terms ‘eye-wash’
At least 111 people have lost their lives so far due to the consumption of spurious liquor in Tarn Taran, Amritsar and Batala (Gurdaspur) districts of Punjab. The death toll is likely to rise as the condition of many persons being treated in several hospitals is feared to be critical. Police have so far arrested 37 people for their alleged involvement in selling hooch. Raids are still going on to nab the culprits.
With the number of deaths increasing, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has ordered a magisterial inquiry. He has tweeted, “I have ordered a magisterial enquiry into the deaths of poisonous liquor in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran. The commissioner, Jalandhar division is conducting the investigation and coordinating with the concerned SSP and other officials. Whoever is found guilty will not be spared.’’
Terming the magisterial inquiry as a ‘mere eyewash’, Bollywood actor and BJP MP Sunny Deol has written a letter to CM seeking impartial probe into the case. “One and all in the country are saddened and concerned with the hooch tragedy that has taken away precious human lives in Punjab. The incident reflects total intelligence failure of law enforcement agencies in gathering information on the ongoing spurious liquor trade, allegedly in connivance with some officials and under the shelter of some powerful politicians of the ruling party,’’ he wrote.
“Hence, a magisterial enquiry will be an ‘eyewash’ and serve no purpose unless a full-fledged free and fair and impartial investigation is made, officials and culprits are booked and stringent action is taken against them”, Sunny Deol concluded in his letter.
The tragedy began on Wednesday in these districts. Tarn Taran has borne the brunt of it, with 83 of the 111 deaths taking place here. Gurdaspur’s Batala town and Amritsar, meanwhile, have seen 15 and 13 deaths respectively. Tarn Taran Deputy Commissioner Kulwant Singh, Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Ishfaq and Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Gurpreet Singh Khaira have confirmed the deaths.
The police have so far arrested 37 persons in more than 100 raids in the three affected districts, along with several other places in and around the Rajpura and Shambhu border. A large amount of spurious liquor, drums and storage cans, recovered from the accused, have been sent for chemical analysis.
According to the Excise Commissioner, though reports of the chemical analysis of the material seized in various raids are yet to come, a preliminary check showed that the material was denatured spirit, generally used in the paint and hardware industries.
Families of the deceased have sought compensation from the government and strict action against the liquor mafia. The political bickering has also begun on the issue. The Opposition parties are demanding an investigation from a higher authority. Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal has demanded a judicial probe into the incident, while the Aam Aadmi Party has said that Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh should resign over one of the biggest hooch tragedies in the state. However, the government has promised to take stringent action against the culprits.