Suspecting a “political conspiracy” behind the illicit liquor tragedy in Barabanki that claimed 12 lives, the Uttar Pradesh government has ordered a probe and sought a report within 48 hours.
The government cited previous such hooch tragedies in Hapur and Azamgarh districts while ordering to include “conspiracy angle” in the probe. In the past, too, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had accused the opposition of being the reason behind illicit liquor trade and the hooch tragedies.
“It is a sensitive and sad incident. The Chief Minister has expresed his condolence and ordered for action along with Rs 2 lakh compensation for the families of the victims,” said Sidhartha Nath Singh, Cabinet Minister and state government spokesperson.
Fifteen officials, including district excise officer, excise inspector, excise head constable, constable, circle officer and SHO have been suspended after the incident, Singh said adding the CM has instructed not to spare anyone once the inquiry report is submitted.
A three-member committee, headed by Excise Commissioner and comprising Commissioner Ayodhya and Inspector General of Police Ayodhya Range, has been asked to conduct an inquiry into the incident and submit its report within next 48 hours, Singh said. The committee members have already reached Barabanki, he added.
“As we have seen in the past, there is a political conspiracy also behind such incidents… this would also be seen,” he said and added, “This has been kept as a term of reference for the inquiry committee as it was seen in the past in the case of Hapur and Azamgarh incidents that people were involved from the political point of view.”
However, the opposition called it an attempt of the BJP government to “hide its failures in controlling law and order”. Samajwadi Party chief Akhikesh Yadav said, “It is shameful that instead of being sensitive towards the families of the victims, the government is seeing politics into the incident.”
SP spokesperson, Rajendra Chaudhary, said, “Just by indicating political conspiracy behind these illicit liquor deaths, the government is trying to shirk responsiblity. This incident is a clear failure of the government in maintaining law and order and curbing manufacturing of illicit liquor.”
Congress state president Raj Babbar said, “It is criminal and wrong to give a political colour to such incidents. Culprits responsible for these deaths is a criminal and should be punished. It is unfair to the families of those who have died to blame it on a conspiracy rather than finding out the culprits and punishing them first.”
In its order for inquiry, Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Anoop Chandra Pandey directed the committee to probe into the points, including the “source behind the supply of illicit liquor, the role of excise department, police department as well as administration and the officials involved”.
The instructions furher read, apart from these, “If there is any conspiracy suspected behind the incident, then on this point also Committee would submit its report.”