Aligarh Hooch Tragedy Death Toll At 25

The death toll in the Aligarh hooch tragedy climbed to 25 on Sunday while police seized 243 pouches of illicit liquor from a block along the district”s border with Haryana, officials here said.

BJP Lok Sabha MP from Aligarh Satish Gautam, however, said according to information gathered by him, the death toll has crossed 35.

Speaking to reporters, Gautam said his figures are based on inputs collected by him from different villages “where many victims have been cremated without conducting a post-mortem examination”.

Asked why there was a difference between official figures and the information collected by him, the MP said, “I will be meeting the officials today (Sunday) and we will discuss this issue. There is no question of hiding anything. A person who has been a victim of this tragedy will ultimately find his name on the official death list.”

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According to district officials, the victims were limited to Aligarh”s Lodha block on the first day but have now spread to at least four more blocks.

The district authorities have been sending teams to villages to urge people not to consume any liquor bought a week ago.

On Sunday afternoon, a row broke out at a post-mortem house when some staff members allegedly tried to prevent media persons from taking pictures of bodies lined up there.

With the issue threatening to blow up, Gautam rushed to the spot and managed to calm down the frayed tempers of media persons. He said necessary action will be taken in this matter.

He reiterated that there will be no attempt to hide casualties in the hooch tragedy.

Meanwhile, Lodha police station in-charge Abhay Kumar Sharma has been suspended for dereliction of duty, according to an official announcement made on Saturday evening. The first death in the hooch tragedy was reported in this police station area.

District Magistrate Chandra Bhushan Singh said a magisterial probe will reveal the exact death toll.

According to reports, some victims had consumed the killer brew even a day after the first deaths were reported on Friday.

Meanwhile, the excise department and police conducted a joint raid in the district”s Tappal block and arrested one person with a large stock of illicit liquor.

Acting on a tip-off, the house of Monu Srichand in Nurpur village under Tappal police station was raided and 243 pouches of illicit liquor were seized, said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kalanidhi Naithani.

He has been booked under the Excise Act.

Naithani said police teams and administrative staff are combing rural areas and cautioning residents against consuming any liquor purchased a week back. They are also checking the stock at liquor vends across the district.

Officials are seizing liquor pouches to help identify the spurious liquor stock that found its way to government-authorised vends.

Naithani had said on Saturday that five people have been arrested so far, including Anil Chaudhary, the alleged kingpin of the spurious liquor racket.

As many as 12 people have been booked in three different cases. Several raids were carried out in various parts of the district.

A reward of Rs 50,000 each has been announced for the arrest of Anil Chaudhary”s associates Rishi Sharma and Vipin Yadav, the SSP had said on Saturday.

The district magistrate has recommended an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the deceased. PTI

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