Hooch claims 24 lives in 'dry' Gujarat, ATS joins probe

One victim claimed at least 15 people fell ill after consuming the hooch
Last Updated 26 July 2022, 07:21 IST

With seven more people succumbing, the death toll in the hooch tragedy in Ahmedabad and Botad districts of Gujarat climbed to 24 on Tuesday morning, police said.

According to Bhavnagar Range Inspector General of Police Ashok Kumar Yadav, of the deceased 15 were from Botad districts, while nine belonged to Ahmedabad rural areas.

The kingpin and Methanol suppliers have been arrested and are being questioned.

A combing operation was carried out throughout the night during which 600 litres of Methanol was seized, police sources from the Botad said. Ahmedabad-based Amos company's Jayeshbhbai had reportedly supplied the chemical, they said, adding that he is being questioned along with one Raju.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Manhar Patel from the Botad district told IANS that the death toll in the tragedy which took place on Monday is 31 and not 24 as is being claimed.

The Congress leader, along with Rojid village Sarpanch J D Dungrani had blown the whistle regarding illicit liquor four months ago, he claimed.

As many as 47 persons from Botad rural areas, specifically from Barvala Taluka, were brought to Bhavnagar district government hospital till this morning.

Botad Superintendent of Police Karanraj Vaghela told reporters on Monday late at night that a case of accidental death has been registered and some persons were detained for questioning. "Police will add the charge of murder if required. Gujarat ATS as well as the Ahmedabad crime branch have also joined our probe to nab the culprits," said Vaghela.

Bhatia had said the police detained three persons from the Botad district who were allegedly involved in manufacturing and selling spurious country-made liquor.

Most of the deceased are labourers.

The matter came to light after some residents of Rojid village in Barvala taluka of Botad district and some other surrounding villages were referred to government hospitals in Barvala and Botad towns after their health started deteriorating early Monday morning. Earlier in the day, the wife of a victim undergoing treatment had told reporters that her husband's condition started deteriorating hours after he consumed hooch at Rojid village on Sunday night.

One Himmatbhai, who is recovering, claimed at least 15 people fell ill after consuming the hooch they had purchased from a bootlegger on Sunday night.

Inspector General of Police (Bhavnagar range), Ashok Kumar Yadav, visited the Botad civil hospital in the evening. He said a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under a Deputy Superintendent of Police-rank officer will be formed to probe the incident and nab bootleggers who sold the spurious liquor.

Terming the incident "unfortunate" Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is on a Gujarat visit, alleged that illegal liquor is being sold in large quantities in Gujarat where prohibition is in place. He alleged that people selling illicit liquor are enjoying political protection and demanded a probe into the "trail" of money generated by selling booze. "It is unfortunate that despite prohibition, illegal liquor is sold in huge quantities in Gujarat. Who are the people who sell illegal liquor? They enjoy political protection. Where does the money (generated by selling illegal liquor) go? This needs to be probed," he told reporters in Porbandar.

The Gujarat Prohibition Act, earlier known as the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949, empowers the police to arrest a person for purchasing, consuming or serving alcohol without a permit with punishment ranging from three months to five years in prison. It also penalises the transporting of liquor.

(Published 25 July 2022, 17:07 IST)

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