The Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has filed its first chargesheet in the Surat hooch tragedy that claimed over two dozen lives in October this year. The chargesheet has named eight accused, including three women, for conspiracy, murder and violation of various sections of the liquor prohibition law.
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According to ATS officers, the chargesheet was filed before a Surat city and sessions court on Monday against Jitendra Chaudhary, his wife Padma, mother Shantaben, Rukmani Reddy, Dipak Pandit, Ramu Yadav, Kailash Tiwari and Manoj Verma.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (ATS) B M Desai, who is investigating the case, said the eight have been “charged with conspiracy, murder and also under Section 65 (A) of the Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat amendment) Act that has provision for death penalty”.
He said the chargesheet has been filed in one of the seven separate FIRs lodged against the accused. He said the chargesheet in the remaining cases will be filed within a week. “We have proved that the accused in a pre-planned manner were purchasing and selling the methanol mixed country-made liquor which caused the incident.”
The chargesheet claimed that Jitendra and his wife Padma sold over 600 liters of country-made liquor, which had tuned poisonous due to presence of methanol, to hundreds of people.
“We have recorded statements of more than 100 people who suffered due to the incident. We collected their medical certificates suggesting they were blinded, suffered other health problems due to drinking spurious liquor,” Desai said.
Following the uproar over the tragedy, the state government had transferred the investigation to the ATS and transferred senior police officers, including the than inspector general of police, Surat Range and the superintendent of police.
Earlier, the state government had also appointed a three-member panel — comprising Additional Director General of Police (Law & Order) V M Pargi, Prohibition and Excise Department Director B K Kumar and Forensic Science Laboratory Director M H Dahiya — to probe the case. The panel came up with its finding that the incident was caused by consumption of spurious liquor.