Hooch toll climbs to 16, Nitish promises action

Hooch toll climbs to 16, Nitish promises action

Forensic team seeks two days to submit final report

Hooch toll climbs to 16, Nitish promises action

The death toll in the Gopalganj hooch tragedy rose to 16 on Thursday even as the Excise Department maintained that those who died had not consumed alcohol.

Not impressed with the official version, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked his mandarins to find out at the earliest as to how so many people died and “hunt down the perpetrators if the death is due to consumption of illicit liquor”.

“I am not interested in knowing that the deaths have not been caused by hooch. I want to know what caused so many deaths. And if it is due to hooch, track down the culprits, whoever they may be. After all, somebody must have brought or produced illicit liquor,” Nitish told the official who offered an explanation for  the tragedy.

The Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, 2016, which was enacted on March 30, has the provision of death sentence for those involved in illicit sale and manufacture of liquor causing death and life sentence if it causes disability.

The new prohibition bill, which is awaiting the Governor’s assent, also has the same provisions. Asking the Gopalganj DM and SP to get to the bottom of the matter, Nitish said if it was proved that it was a hooch tragedy, the kin of the victims would be given an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh each.

Meanwhile, the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) team, which reached Gopalganj to carry out its investigation, said it would take another couple of days to make a final report as to what caused so many deaths.

Meanwhile, the Excise Department has sent a two-member team to Kolkata to inquire from a pharmaceutical firm whose name was found on the homeopathy medicine bottles collected from the incident site in Gopalganj.

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