Gujarat ATS Friday arrested three persons in connection with the hooch tragedy in which at least 23 persons were killed in Vareli village of Surat. Notably, the probe agency has invoked Section 65 (A) of Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Act, which stipulates maximum death penalty on conviction, against all the three persons.
Police said this was for the first time that they had to invoke Section 65 (A) in a case of hooch tragedy after it was first introduced in 2009 by Gujarat government, in the wake of Ahmedabad hooch tragedy, by an Amendment Bill. Nearly 160 persons were killed in Ahmedabad hooch tragedy.
The three arrested have been identified as Ramu Yadav, Kailash Tiwari and Manoj Verma. While Yadav is a native of Uttar Pradesh and a resident of Vareli village, Tiwari is a resident of Mumbai and Verma lives in Ahmedabad. With these arrests, the total number of arrests in the case has reached 10. Surat police have registered four FIRs.
Yadav has been named as the main accused in the case by ATS, said Gujarat ATS officer IPS Himanshu Shukla. Police claim that Yadav was making hooch with methanol and selling it to bootleggers in Surat city and district while Tiwari and Verma were tanker drivers working with Amit Roadlines, a transport firm in Mumbai. Yadav was earlier involved in bootlegging activities.
Police said that methanol, loaded in tankers, was on its way from a firm in Mumbai and was likely to be delivered to another firm in Bharuch.
Yadav used to purchase methanol from them and mix it with spurious liquor and sell it to bootleggers, police said. Shukla said, “Today, we have made three arrests and in future as the investigation progresses, we will arrest more people. We have seized methanol barrels from them and have sent them to FSL for lab analysis.” He added: “We are also probing whether (other) employees of both firms in Mumbai and Bharuch are involved in this racket. We will question the company officials and if they are involved, we will take strict action against them.”