Liquor tragedy: Combating underground trade a challenge - The Tribune India

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Liquor tragedy

Combating underground trade a challenge

Liquor tragedy


THE 21 deaths attributed to the consumption of poisonous liquor in Punjab’s Sangrur district are a tragic reminder of the enormity of the illicit liquor trade. The setting up of a special investigation team and the registration of a case under Section 302 (murder) of the IPC are steps in the right direction; these must be backed by unswerving commitment to uncovering the network behind this criminal activity. The potential influence of such activities on the electoral process, as indicated by the police statement about a link to the Lok Sabha elections, is a disturbing prospect. This underscores the need for heightened vigil and measures to prevent the enticement of gullible voters for political gains. The intervention of the Election Commission and the National Human Rights Commission in the case should spur concerted action.

Over the years, Punjab has witnessed several such incidents. There was a spate of illicit liquor trade-related deaths in Tarn Taran, Amritsar and Batala in 2020 — the toll crossed 110 — leading to a clamour for holding the authorities accountable. Two years later, the Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction over the progress of the probe into the case and pulled up the state government for treating the issue with ‘kid gloves’. In February 2023, the Punjab and Haryana High Court said it was a known fact that the illegal liquor trade was a serious problem in Punjab.

The recurrence of such tragedies shows that the challenges persist despite a campaign to crack down on bootleggers. Sustained action is needed, including stringent law enforcement to curb the illegal, parallel sale of liquor and meting out exemplary punishment to the culprits. Also, efforts must be made to raise consumer awareness about the hazards posed by the consumption of liquor purchased from unauthorised shops or persons.

#Sangrur


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