Punjab hooch tragedy: Kin of victims not filing complaints due to ‘fear of liquor mafia’

We are offering them police protection if needed, says Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner

Close to a 100 people have lost their lives after allegedly consuming spurious liquor in three districts of Punjab, yet none of the victim families in Gurdaspur’s Batala, one of the affected towns, have so far come forward to file a police complaint.

Also read: Punjab hooch tragedy toll rises to 98

A source in the local administration said the fear of “liquor mafia’’ could be one of the key deterrents.

In Batala town, 11 people have lost lives so far and most of the deaths took place in the Hathi Gate locality. However, none of the victim’s family members have so far lodged any police complaint. The case has been registered on the basis of complaint filed by Station House Officer of Batala city under Sections 304, 328 of the Indian Penal Code and relevant Sections of the Excise Act.

“Of the 11 victims, 10 were cremated by family members without any post-mortem. Only one victim was brought to hospital, whose post-mortem revealed he had co-morbid conditions with little liquor presence. I have been meeting family members of the victims to assure them of all help but none of them are willing to accept or reveal that their family members have died on account of consuming spurious liquor. The FIR in Batala has been registered based on the statement of the SHO of Batala city,” Mohammad Ishfaq, Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner, told The Hindu.

“We are assuring family members there’s nothing to be afraid, and they should give their statements without any fear. We will offer them police protection as well, if needed,” he said.

SAD demands probe by sitting HC judge

The Batala city police have so far arrested six persons including two women — Triveni Chauhan and Darshan Rani — the key accused, who are are residents of the Hathi Gate locality.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) demanded immediate action against those responsible for patronising the spurious liquor trade, and registration of appropriate cases against distillery owners supplying unaccounted ENA (Extra Neutral Alcohol) to bootleggers. Former Minister Bikram Singh Majithia, while rejecting the magisterial probe ordered by the Chief Minister, said a sitting judge of the High Court or a CBI inquiry should be ordered into the entire incident.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) staged protests in various parts of the State against the Congress government and demanded immediate action against those responsible for the deaths.

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