Punjab hooch tragedy death toll rises to 20; SIT formed

Punjab hooch tragedy death toll rises to 20; SIT formed

Police investigate after deaths due to the suspected consumption of spurious liquor in Sunam on March 22, 2024.
| Photo Credit: PTI

The death toll due to the suspected consumption of spurious liquor in Punjab’s Sangrur district has climbed to twenty, with six more persons succumbing, officials on March 23 said.

Meanwhile, a four-member special investigation team (SIT), led by an additional director general of police (ADGP) rank officer, has been set up in connection with the incident.

Eleven people are undergoing treatment at Patiala’s Rajindra Hospital and six at the Civil Hospital in Sangrur.

Sangrur Civil Surgeon Kirpal Singh on Saturday said that 20 people have died so far in the incident.

The officials said that the casualties have been reported from Gujran, Tibbi Ravidaspura and Dhandoli Khurd villages in Dirba and Sunam blocks.

The police have made six arrests in the case so far, they said.

The AAP Government has been under fire from the Opposition parties Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) over the Sangrur hooch tragedy.

A case has already been registered under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Excise Act.

The police on Saturday said that a high-level committee has been set up to supervise uncovering of the backward and forward linkages in a professional and scientific manner to unearth the nexus behind the whole matter.

A four-member SIT headed by ADGP (law and order) Gurinder Singh Dhillon will supervise the investigations.

Deputy Inspector General (Patiala Range) Harcharan Bhullar, Senior Superintendent of Police, Sangrur, Sartaj Chahal, and Additional Commissioner (Excise) Naresh Dubey will be part of the SIT.

“The SIT will go to the bottom of the conspiracy. No person found involved will be spared,” police said.

The district administration has already formed a five-member committee, led by the Dirba sub-divisional magistrate, to investigate the matter.

The police had earlier recovered 200 litres of ethanol, 156 bottles of alcohol, 130 bottles containing suspected spurious liquor with labelling, 80 bottles containing spurious liquor without labelling, 4,500 empty bottles and a bottling machine etc.

The police had said with the arrests made until Thursday it had busted a gang which had just started selling spurious liquor in the area in view of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

The gang could have affected the conduct of the elections by luring the voters, the police had said in a statement.

A survey was also being conducted in the affected villages to find out if anyone else reported symptoms of deterioration in health.

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