New Delhi: Sukhbir Singh Badal, member of Shiromani Akali Dal, on Saturday alleged that the Punjab hooch tragedy, which cost the lives of 86 people, is the consequence of the Congress-led government’s patronage to its leaders, MLAs and ministers for allegedly carrying out the illegal liquor trade. He demanded the resignation of chief minister Amarinder Singh, said reports.
Badal said in a statement said, “The hooch tragedy is the direct and natural consequence of the patronage given to Congress leaders, including ministers and MLAs, for freely carrying out rampant illicit liquor trade in the state.”
He added that it is a murder, pure and simple and that all the guilty, including ministers and ruling party MLAs, should be arrested. Additionally, taking responsibility for this “horrendous crime”, the chief minister should step down immediately, he said.
CM Singh in response to the statement asked Badal not to “politicise the tragedy.” He added that such incidents happened even under the government of the Akali Dal-BJP regime. He even listed similar tragedies in 2012 in Gurdaspur and 2016 in Batala. The CM even added that many lives were lost during these incidents as well. Moreover, no FIR was even registered and no action was taken against the main incident of the 2016 Batala case.
This statement comes at a time when the death toll sharply increased in the day on Saturday when 48 more people died after taking the toxic liquor. The highest death toll of 63 deaths was reported from Tarn Taran district followed by 12 in Amritsar and 11 in Gurdaspur till Wednesday. Deaths were first reported in Amritsar’s Muchhal Village on Wednesday evening. Later, by Friday, 38 more died, according to official figures. The death count rose sharply by Saturday with 48 more casualties.
So far, a total of 25 people have been arrested and the CM said strict action will be taken against anyone involved in the case. Additionally, six police officials and seven excise officials have also been suspended. The police also conducted many raids to catch the culprits. After eight arrests on Friday, they caught 17 more in over 100 raids encompassing the three districts and several other places on Saturday.
Director general of police Dinkar Gupta said that from various villages and dhabas and roadside eateries in the regions around the Shambhu border, Rajpura and Patiala, the raiding parties were able to seize large quantities of lahan.
Lahan is the raw material used in the preparation of these liquors.