Assam: 2,500 containers of molasses stored for making illicit liquor destroyed
Representational image Credit: EastMojo image

Numaligarh: Following the hooch tragedy that killed over 160 people in the two upper Assam districts of Jorhat and Golaghat between February 24 and 26, reports of three people dying over alleged consumption of illicit liquor has once again surfaced in Golaghat during the past 24 hours.

While the three victims, identified as Jitu Das, Ratul Das and Kamal Das, died, two others — Dipak Rajbongshi and Dandi Das — are undergoing treatment at the Kushal Konwar Civil Hospital in Golaghat and are said to be critical. Among the deceased, while Jituwa and Ratul hailed from Marangi Panikara village, Kamal belonged to Missionpatty area of the district.

Meanwhile, the Golaghat district administration has refuted the allegations that the cause of the deaths is consumption of illicit liquor. Addressing media persons on Saturday, Golaghat DC Dhiren Hazarika clarified that, according to preliminary investigation, Jitu died of gastroenteritis, while Ratul and Kamal died of tuberculosis and food poisoning, respectively.

Following the incident, women in large numbers launched a door-to-door search operation to find out stocks of illicit liquor in the affected areas. Severely criticising the Golaghat district administration and senior officials of the department of excise for maintaining alleged nexus with illicit liquor vendors, the agitated women also ‘gheraoed’ the office of Golaghat SP Pushparaj Singh.

Earlier, following the hooch tragedy in the two upper Assam districts, which killed over 160 people, community crackdown on country-made spurious liquor stocks, including the vendors, was seen in both Golaghat and Jorhat districts through which local residents destroyed huge amounts of spurious liquor stocks and molasses (lali lur).

Bereaved family members of one of the three people who died due to alleged consumption of illicit liquor in Golaghat district of Assam

“People in large numbers from different parts of the area started the operation. No one had been spared. We had visited each and every household, liquor lines etc., in search of such liquor stocks. We even checked kitchens, toilets, etc., in search of such stocks,” one of the members of the All Adivashi Students’ Union, which was spearheading the operation, said. A huge amount of spurious liquor stocks and lali gur (molasses) had already been destroyed.

Earlier, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal expressed serious concern over the death of people due to alcohol poisoning in Golaghat district and ordered an inquiry into the tragedy. Sonowal also instituted a one man inquiry and asked upper Asam divisional commissioner Julie Sonowal to inquire into the corollaries of events, leading to the death.

Talking to reporters, Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, after visiting the affected people, said that strict action will be taken against the guilty. “Right now, we are trying our level best to provide adequate medical facilities to those affected in the tragedy,” he said.

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