Police probe into illicit liquor deaths in three Punjab districts has revealed that raw material for making illicit liquor reached Tarn Taran from two places – Patiala and Ludhiana – after which the hooch was distributed across Tarn Taran, Batala (Gurdaspur) and Amritsar.
On Tuesday, DGP Dinkar Gupta blamed one of these two streams — involving a Ludhiana-based paint store owner — for being behind 111 deaths reported so far due to illicit liquor consumption in three districts. Rajeev Joshi, owner of Ludhiana paint store, was nabbed late on Monday evening, the DGP said.
However, local police officials in Tarn Taran said that a Patiala-based supplier was also being investigated for his link to the deaths in Tarn Taran.
According to the police probe, the two streams of raw material supply converged at a family of illicit liquor suppliers from Pandori Gola village in Tarn Taran.
Crucial arrest made
After the arrest of Ludhiana-based paint store owner, Rajeev Joshi, the DGP said the accused had disclosed that he had supplied the three drums of methanol (methyl alcohol), which were used to make the spurious alcohol. Arrest of Joshi, the DGP added, has led the police to identify some more key people involved in the manufacture and distribution of spurious liquor, including the supply chain of methanol (methyl alcohol), which led to the deaths in Tarn Taran, Amritsar and Batala.
According to the DGP, the three drums were supplied by Joshi to two other accused Ravinder Singh and Avtar Singh and they were then sold to Satnam Singh of Pandori Gola village, Tarn Taran.
Satnam and his family members (father and brother) then supplied the methanol-based illicit liquor to around a dozen distributors in the three districts.
The source of methanol supplied by Rajiv Joshi is being probed. The DGP said that Satnam’s arrest, the Tarn Taran module of the mafia involved in this case had been busted. He added that at least five more suspects in the district have been identified and raids were being conducted to nab them.
How illicit liquor reached Muchhal
The first death in the illicit liquor tragedy was reported from Amritsar’s Muchhal village on Wednesday last week. Police has now traced the route through which hooch reached the village.
According to Amritsar (Rural) police, Panadori Gola village residents Satnam Singh, his father Harjit Singh and brother Shamsher Singh delivered liquor to one Gobinder Singh alias Govinda in Tarn Taran’s Jandiala. Govinda supplied consignment to Balwinder Kaur of Muchhal village in Amritsar. Govinda and his other associate, Harpreet Singh from Kathunangal in Amritsar, also supplied it to three sellers — Trivani, Darshna and Dharminder — in Batala. All these accused have arrested.
Second source under probe
Police is also probing a network run by two brothers — Rachpal Singh, a self-styled godman, and Gurpal Singh, from Dhotian village of Tarn Taran – as part of investigations into the illicit liquor deaths. It was on July 9 that Gurpal was arrested with 4,000 litres of “chemical/spirit”. His arrest had led the police to one Hardeep Singh from Patiala, who was believed to supplier of this “chemical”.
According to police, Rachpal took over the operations after this and found a new supplier in Patiala and transported four consignments of spirit to Tarn Taran in the run up the tragedy.
“Rachpal Singh transported at least four consignments after arrest of his brother. He purchased raw material from a supplier Partap Singh Virk and delivered manufactured illicit liquor to one Kashmir Singh. Rachpal would not store liquor even for one night. It would be sent out to distributors right away,” said SSP, Tarn Taran, Dhruman H Nimbale.
He added that Kashmir Singh through his brother Hajit, his sons – Shamsher and Satnam – of village Panadori Gola sold it distributors for sale.
“It is suspected that one of the consignments transported by Rachpal was of methyl alcohol. We are waiting laboratory report. Majority of deaths are linked with the modus operandi busted by Amritsar (Rural) police. But Shamsher Singh is still absconding and our probe is on. There were at least two modus operandi behind deaths in Tarn Taran district. One is already busted by Amritsar police. Some of the deaths are suspected to be linked to liquor supplied by Kashmir Singh and Rachpal Singh,” said the Tarn Taran SSP.
“Majority of deaths are linked with modus operandi busted by Amritsar police. Less than 5 per cent deaths could be connected to other Modus operandi being probed by Tarn Taran police,” said Gaurav Toora, SP (Investigation), Amritsar (Rural) police.
Meanwhile, Partap Singh Virk, Rachpal Singh and Shamsher Singh are yet to be arrested.
How liquor was made
“Liquor cost used to depend upon content of water they were mixing into spirit. If they had added one-litre water into the one-litre spirit then one plastic pouch used to cost around Rs 25. However, more water meant less the cost of liquor. They were making liquor by just mixing water and spirit. It was done by both brothers Rachpal and Gurpal at Dhotian,” said the Tarn Taran SSP.
A police source added: “Liquor prepared by this method is very crystal clear. But it doesn’t smell like desi liquor. So they were stuffing it with ‘lahan’ to make it according to taste of their local customers who were fond of desi country made liquor.”
According to the source, customers were sold liquor made from spirit disguised as country made liquor.
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