Punjab: Death toll in Sangrur spurious liquor case rises to 14, two more held

Spurious liquor deaths in Punjab rise to 14, arrests made
Representative image
Representative image

Chandigarh | The death toll due to the suspected consumption of spurious liquor in Punjab's Sangrur district has risen to 14 as six more people succumbed on Friday, officials said.

Police said they have arrested two more people. With this, a total of six people have been nabbed in connection with the case.

Earlier on Thursday, police had recovered ethanol and raw material used for making alcohol.

"Fourteen people have died in this incident so far. We have made two fresh arrests in the case. Investigations are on and culprits will not be spared," Deputy Inspector General of Police, Harcharan Singh Bhullar told PTI on Friday.

Police had earlier suggested that the sale of spurious liquor could be part of an attempt to lure voters ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

On Wednesday, five people died allegedly after consuming spurious liquor and some were hospitalised. The next day, three more people succumbed during treatment at Patiala's Rajindra Hospital.

On late Thursday night, two more people died while four others succumbed his morning, taking the total death in the incident to 14.

Officials said that most of the deaths have taken place in different villages under Dirba block of Sangrur, a few deaths were also reported from Sunam.

Punjab Finance and Excise and Taxation Minister Harpal Singh Cheema, who is under fire from the opposition over the deaths in Gujran village which falls in his Dirba assembly constituency, had on Thursday expressed grief and said whosoever responsible for this incident will not be spared.

The Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal hit out at the AAP government over the Sangrur hooch tragedy.

On Thursday, Special Director General of Police Arpit Shukla had said they have arrested a fourth person, identified as Patiala-resident Harmanpreet Singh, in connection with the incident.

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.

A case was registered under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code and the Excise Act and a probe is underway. The district administration has also formed a five-member committee to investigate the matter.

The committee has been asked to submit a report on the matter in 72 hours, Sangrur Deputy Commissioner Jitendra Jorwal had said on Wednesday.

A survey was also being conducted in affected villages to find out if anyone else reported symptoms of deterioration in health. Multiple teams of health officials, Anganwadi workers, police, revenue and rural development officials are conducting a door-to-door survey.

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal has said the Sangrur hooch tragedy was indicative of the state of affairs in Punjab as well as those in chief minister Bhagwant Mann's home district of Sangrur, even as he demanded a judicial probe into the tragedy.

Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa has also criticised Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann for his "failure" to fix responsibility for the tragedy and seek the resignation of Harpal Cheema.

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