Almost three weeks after the first death of the hooch tragedy was reported, a key accused, Rashpal Singh alias Shalu Dhotian from Dhotian village in Tarn Taran is still on the run and wanted in an ongoing investigation by Tarn Taran police into the tragedy that which claimed 123 lives.
“We believe that Rashpal also had a consignment of methyl alcohol. There are reasons to link Rashpal with some of the hooch tragedy deaths. Now it is confirmed that spurious liquor provided by Rashpal was the reason behind deaths reported in Rataul village,” said Tarn Taran SSP D H Nimble.
Raunak Singh, Joginder Singh and Surjit Singh of Rataul had died after allegedly drinking spurious liquor on July 16, around a fortnight before the unfolding of the hooch tragedy. An FIR was registered only on July 27, on the complaint of labourer Ravinder Singh, who had lost his eyesight after drinking the same liquor that was consumed by the three in Rataul. Later, the deaths reported at Rataul were also counted in the hooch tragedy death toll by administration.
“We have been waiting for the arrest of Rashpal to confirm from where he brought the consignment and to whom he delivered it. Rachpal was one of the sources. He was connected with Kashmir Singh, who further had many links who supplied the liquor and distributed it on ground,” said the SSP.
Kashmir is already arrested.
Rashpal Singh’s brother Gurpal Singh was arrested for smuggling of 4,000 litres of chemical/spirit liquor in Phillaur on July 9. The SSP said both brothers were in the business of spurious liquor for last nine years.
Rashpal was also a ‘godman’ and runs a dera in Dhotian village. Both brothers were also politically active and used to organise an annual musical show for the followers of Rashpal.
Rashpal had allegedly transported at least four consignments of spirit liquor after the arrest of his brother. He had multiple suppliers.
Police arrested Partap Singh Virk, Rajesh alias Bobby and Anil Saini, all working on the top of different chains from where Rashpal was taking supply of spurious liquor.
Rajesh alias Boby was getting spirit directly from factories or buying it from truck drivers. Around 46,000 litres of spirit was recovered from Boby after his arrest.
Originally from Ambala, Anil Saini has a house in Patiala. He was a truck driver and owned five trucks. He would drive himself and had also hired drivers.
He used to transport spirit from distilleries to factories. Somehow they were stealing spirit during transport and supplying it to dhaba owners, police said, adding that on average, they were getting out 300 litres of spirit per day.
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