Hooch toll rises to 44, six suppliers arrested

Ghaziabad, March 5 (IANS) The spurious liquor toll in pre- and post-Holi celebrations in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad and Bulandshahr districts rose to 44 Friday. Six men have been arrested for the deaths while irate villagers torched a liquor shop and have threatened a massive protest Sunday.

Nine more critically ill people died Friday in hospitals in Meerut and in villages falling under Murad Nagar, Pilkhuwa and Babugarh areas of Ghaziabad’s Hapur sub-division. The total deaths in the district have gone up to 29 – 27 from Garh Mukteswar area and one each from from Pilkhuwa and Murad Nagar areas, while 15 persons had earlier died in Bulandshahr.


Over 30 people are being treated in hospitals of Meerut, Ghaziabad and Bulandshahr, police said.


Ghaziabad police chief Raghuvir Lal said that six hooch suppliers have been arrested and of them four – Tukki Sharma, Bhagmal, Ajay Gupta and Chhatra Pal – are being booked under the National Security Act (NSA). The other two arrested men have been identified as Amit and Anand.


Lal disclosed that the gang would siphon out methyl alcohol from the trucks parked at roadside eateries during night and mixed it in the liquor bought from the official vends or other sources.


Meanwhile, the deaths have sparked off mass protests in rural areas of Ghaziabad district, and local leaders cutting across political lines have joined the agitation.


Meeting at a panchayat in Devli village, the leaders passed a resolution to jam traffic on National Highway-24 to Lucknow March 7, demanding the immediate disbursal of compensation to the families of victims, stern punishment to the officials found guilty of negligence and closing down the factory engaged in manufacturing ‘Karina’ brand liquor in Aligarh.


Local MP Davendra Nagpal, local legislators Madan Chauhan and Sunil Sharma and former law-maker Krishna Vir Sirohi toured the affected villages of Garh Mukteswar, Simbhaoli and Hapur areas and announced their full support to protests planned.


In a related development, unidentified people burnt down a country liquor sale outlet in Nanpur village of Ghaziabad district midnight Thursday.

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