Spurious liquor kills 45 in Punjab

Victims from 3 Majha districts I Woman bootlegger’s spouse among dead I Inquiry ordered

PK Jaiswar, Ravi Dhaliwal & Gurbaxpuri

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 31

Spurious liquor has claimed 45 lives in Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Batala (Gurdaspur district) in the past two days. The Punjab Government has ordered a magisterial probe. Angry villagers on Friday held a protest against the police department for “failing” to curb bootlegging in the area despite the recent drive against liquor smuggling.

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ON TRAIL OF ‘FAUJAN’

The Batala police are on the trail of middle-aged ‘Faujan’, who has been on the police radar, said an officer. TNS

Tarn Taran reported 24 casualties, Batala 10 and Amritsar seven. Four died in Muchhal village late Thursday evening. Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta said the first five fatalities were reported from Muchhal and Tangra villages in Amritsar’s Tarsikka tehsil on July 29 night.

The Amritsar police have arrested a woman bootlegger, identified as Balwinder Kaur of Muchhal village. Her husband Jaswant Singh is one of the victims. She has been charged under Section 304 of the IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and under the Excise Act.

Local residents claimed that she had been in the illegal trade for the past two decades.“The liquor was apparently prepared with methanol,” said an officer of the Amritsar (Rural) police. He refused to give any more information. Activists of the Dehati Mazdoor Sabha, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Naujwan Sabha and residents of Muchhal village held a demonstration, accusing the police of turning a blind eye to the menace and blaming

the it for the tragedy.

The Batala police too launched a search for a middle-aged woman known as “Faujan”, who is said to have supplied spurious liquor to 10 persons. “Faujan has been on the police radar for quite some time now,” said an officer.

Gurdaspur DC Mohammad Ishfaq rushed a team of senior officers, including ADC (General) Tejinder Pal Singh Sandhu and AETC Rajwinder Kaur Bajwa, to the affected areas. “I have asked them to look into the sequence of events,” he said. The Tarn Taran police were tight-lipped. Superintendent of Police (D) JS Walia said: “Action will be taken on the statements of the victims’ family members.” Among the victims are: Mangal Singh, Balwinder Singh, Dalbir Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Kashmir Singh, Kaka Singh, Kirpal Singh, Jaswant Singh and Joga Singh of Muchhal village; Baldev Singh of Tangra village; Buta Ram, Bhinda, Riku Singh, Kala, Kalu, Billa and Jatinder of Batala; and Sahib Singh, Harbans Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Dharam Singh of Tarn Taran.

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