A joint delegation of the SAD–BJP on Thursday urged Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore to dismiss the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government and recommend an inquiry by a sitting judge of the high court or the CBI into the hooch tragedy.
The delegation also sought an Enforcement Directorate probe into money trail from illicit liquor trade to recover ill-gotten wealth.
The SAD-BJP delegation, which was led by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and BJP leader Manoranjan Kalia, also urged the Governor to “direct confiscation of properties of all those involved in the illicit liquor trade, however big they may be besides stopping smuggling of denatured spirit and extra neutral alcohol (ENA) from distilleries”.
It also demanded that murder cases be registered against all those named by the victim families. It also urged that “all 118 victim families as well as those who were severely affected after imbibing spurious liquor be rehabilitated”.
The joint delegation which was accompanied by a victim family, while handing over a memorandum to the Governor, said “the hooch tragedy was the direct result of State patronage and this was why people across three districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur were affected by the same lot of contaminated liquor”.
Stating that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had failed to perform his duty as the Excise and Home Minister, Sukhbir told the Governor that no action was taken after two illegal distilleries-cum-bottling plants were unearthed at Rajpura and Khanna. He alleged that the government had also denied access of the case files to the ED despite repeated requests indicating that it did not want the money trail in the case to the exposed.
Both Sukhbir and Kalia said “attempts were being made to divert attention from the role of distilleries in the hooch tragedy by conducting raids against bootleggers making country liquor despite knowing that it was denatured spirit procured from distilleries which was behind the 118 deaths”.
He said “the excise and police department had seized lakhs of liters of ‘lahan’ used to make country liquor which itself raised questions why it had not done any such raids in the last three and a half years”.
Stating that the “illicit liquor trade had already caused a loss of Rs 5,600 crore to the State treasury”, the delegation said the former chief secretary had also accused ministers of causing a massive loss to the treasury before there was a compromise between the two. It said the night curfew during the extended lockdown in Punjab was also used to transport illicit liquor freely from one place to another.
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