Sixteen people have died and 123 taken ill after they consumed spurious liquor in Lucknow and bordering Unnao district. The incident took place on Sunday evening when people had gathered to watch a local cricket match.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who has called an emergency review meeting, has suspended 10 officials, including Malihabad’s Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Circle Officer (Deputy SP), Station House officer, District Excise Officer, Assistant Excise Commissioner (Enforcement) and Excise Inspector. He has sought explanation from Excise Commissioner and ordered departmental action against Joint Excise Commissioner.
Police have arrested one Jugnu of Datali village in Lucknow’s Malihabad area. “It appears that a majority of the people who had come to watch the (cricket) match, had purchased the liquor from Jugnu and fell ill,” said SP of Lucknow (Rural) Habibul Hasan.
Police claimed to have recovered 50 litres of spurious liquor from Jugnu’s house. IG (Lucknow Zone) Subhash Chandra said the seized liquor would be sent for examination and police will probe the source of the toxic methyl alcohol that was supplied to the accused.
Chief Medical Officer S N S Yadav said the symptoms so far indicates that methyl alcohol was mixed with the country-made liquor leading to the deaths. According to him, the condition of nearly 15 patients is critical and seven are on ventilator.
Chief Minister has announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and free treatment to those admitted in the hospitals.
The incident soon acquired a political colour with state Congress chief Nirmal Khatri slamming the SP government for its “incompetence”. He accused the state government of concentrating more on realising maximum revenue through its excise department, while ignoring the lives of the people.
BJP also attacked the government. “Since SP came to power, the business of spurious liquor is flourishing. The government is yet to get out of its slumber,” said BJP’s Vijay Bahadur Pathak.