Punjab Police on Thursday ordered an SIT probe after seven people died in two Amritsar villages within 24 hours allegedly after consuming spurious liquor. While six deaths were reported from Muchhal village, one person died in village Tangra, which is 2 km away. Confirming the deaths, Amritsar SSP Vikramjeet Duggal said that a four-member SIT has been formed under IPS Gaurav Toora to probe the deaths. Late on Thursday evening, a case under Section 304 of the IPC was registered and a woman, Balwinder Kaur, was arrested on suspicion of selling illicit liquor in the village.
“Everyone in the village knew that Balwinder Kaur was selling liquor. How could the police and the government not know about it? Her husband also consumed the same liquor that she sold to others. He has now been admitted to a private hospital,” said Balbir Singh, a local SAD leader. Balwinder Kaur’s husband is among three persons who are undergoing treatment after consuming illicit liquor. Police is yet to record their statements.
Baljit Singh, husband of Muchhal village sarpanch and Congress leader Rajwant Kaur, said, “Our village has serious drug problem. Apart from spurious liquor, drugs are also available in our village. We have made many complaints about this. This problem existed during the SAD-BJP rule. Now, the problem has doubled under our government…These deaths should be properly investigated. Post-mortem should be conducted of the two deaths reported Thursday evening. Other bodies have been already cremated.”
After the first five deaths were reported till Thursday morning, the local police had denied any link with liquor consumption. The five deceased — Mangal Singh (60), Balwinder Singh (65), Dalbir Singh (75), Kuldeep Singh (24) from Muchhal and Baldev Singh (35) of Tangra — were cremated without any autopsy.
After five deaths, SHO, Tarsika, Bikramjit Singh, had said: “It hasn’t been verified that they died due to the liquor they consumed. Some political people have been making such claims that they died due to consuming liquor. These deaths have no such connection. These are separate incidents and reasons behind deaths are also different. Families have gives us different reasons behind these deaths.”
After two more deaths — Kashmir Singh (75) and Harpal Singh Kala (45) — were reported on Thursday evening, SHO Bikramjit Singh was suspended and a probe ordered.
Muchhal village sarpanch Rajwant Kaur admitted that all deceased were habitual drinkers.
“All deceased were liquor addicts. Tangra man was married into our village. Families have given different reasons behind their deaths,” said the sarpanch.
Former sarpanch Sukhraj Singh claimed: “All these deaths are linked with spurious liquor. I am with one victim who is still alive, but his eyesight has been badly affected. We are taking him to a hospital at Amritsar.”
Balkar Singh, relative of deceased Harpal Singh Kala, said, “Harpal had bought country made liquor from a woman. He was a liquor addict and died this evening. His death is linked to all other deaths in village in the last 24 hours.”
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