Sangrur hooch tragedy: Death toll mounts to 20, Election Commission seeks report - Hindustan Times

Sangrur hooch tragedy: Death toll mounts to 20, Election Commission seeks report

ByKaram Prakash, Sangrur
Mar 24, 2024 02:37 AM IST

Death toll in Punjab due to spurious liquor consumption reaches 20, prompting Election Commission to seek immediate report from state officials.

The death toll due to the suspected consumption of spurious liquor in Punjab’s Sangrur district climbed to 20 with four more people succumbing, officials said on Saturday, even as the Election Commission (EC) sought an immediate report from Punjab chief secretary and director general of police in connection with the incident.

SIT head Gurinder Singh Dhillon (R) with Sangrur DC Jitendra Jorwal (centre) at Gujran village in Sangrur on Saturday. (HT Photo)
SIT head Gurinder Singh Dhillon (R) with Sangrur DC Jitendra Jorwal (centre) at Gujran village in Sangrur on Saturday. (HT Photo)

Those who succumbed on Saturday were identified as Ravi, Sukhdev Singh, Karamjit Singh and Bittu, all residents of Ravidaspura Tibbi village in Sunam block. While six people died after consuming spurious liquor on Wednesday, four lost their lives on Thursday and six on Friday. Deaths have been reported from Ravidaspura Tibbi, Gujran, Uppli and Dhondoli Khurd villages, Sangrur DC Jitendra Jorwal said.

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Also Read | Punjab minister Aman Arora blames victims for Sangrur hooch tragedy

A four-member special investigation team (SIT), led by additional director general of police (ADGP) Gurinder Singh Dhillon, has also been set up to probe the case, officials familiar with the development said. The other members of the SIT include Patiala range deputy inspector general of police Harcharan Bhullar, Sangrur senior superintendent of police Sartaj Chahal and additional commissioner (excise) Naresh Dubey.

Excise officials, SHO suspended

In a related development, the Punjab excise department suspended Sunam excise inspector Prakash Singh, Patran’s inspector Kashmir Singh and Dirba’s inspector Mohan Singh. The department ordered disciplinary action against excise and taxation officer Sarwoopinder Singh and assistant commissioner (excise) Rohit Garg said an official aware of the matter said.

The Punjab Police also suspended Shutrana station house officer (SHO) Yashpal Sharma for “laxity” in duty. “It was the Shutrana SHO under whose jurisdiction the kingpin, Harmanpreet Singh, used to manufacture and sell the spurious liquor to others arrested in the case,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

Sangrur civil surgeon Dr Kirpal Singh said that at least 40 patients — who had reportedly consumed spurious liquor — had been admitted in the hospitals over the past four days. “Of the 40, twenty have died while 11 are under treatment at Government Rajindra Hospital in Patiala and six at Sangrur civil hospital. Three patients have fled from the hospitals and efforts are being made to trace them,” said the civil surgeon.

The Election Commission on Saturday wrote to Punjab chief secretary Anurag Verma and director general of police Gaurav Yadav seeking an immediate report into the matter. In a letter, the Punjab chief electoral officer asked the two senior officials to submit preliminary and detailed reports regarding the incident on Saturday to apprise the commission, according to an official statement.

Sangrur SSP Sartaj Singh Chahal said that the kingpin, Harmanpreet Singh, had procured methyl alcohol — which was used to make spurious liquor — from Noida in Uttar Pradesh. “The accused had supplied the spurious liquor in four affected villages,” the SSP said.

The police have so far arrested eight people in connection with the incident. A case has already been registered under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Excise Act, said police.

The Aam Aadmi Party government in the state has been under fire from the opposition Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) over the hooch tragedy.

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