WITH SEVEN more deaths reported overnight, the toll in the spurious liquor tragedy in Etah and Farrukhabad districts of Uttar Pradesh climbed to 40 Tuesday even as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took suo motu cognizance of the matter and issued notices to the state government asking it to file a report in four weeks.
In the notices issued to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, the NHRC observed that some government employees, including from the state excise department and police officials, have been suspended pointing towards “negligence on the part of the official machinery resulting in the tragedy”. It asked the Chief Secretary and the DGP to file reports in the matter within four weeks.
Meanwhile, senior official informed that death toll in two districts has risen to 40.
District Magistrate of Etah, Ajay Yadav told The Indian Express that three more deaths were reported till Tuesday evening. “The toll in Etah is now 32. Around a dozen persons are undergoing treatment at Safai medical college. Including 10 today, we have have arrested 37 persons involved in sale of illicit liquor,” Yadav said.
Contacted, DM Farrukhabad, K S Chauhan, informed that four more people died overnight in the district taking the toll to eight. “We have learnt that the victims had bought the liquor from Etah. We are trying to get hold of the stock left. Announcements are being made using drums and loudspeakers asking villagers not to consume liquor,” added Chauhan.
Meanwhile, BSP supremo Mayawati accused the state government of going soft on the officials responsible for the death. “The liquor tragedy is a fallout of dismal criminal negligence and failure of the Samajwadi Party government,” she said in a release.
Expressing grave concern over the loss of lives, Mayawati said it is because of the rampant ‘jungle raj’ that such incidents are taking place in the state. She said that the erring officials should have been dismissed and put behind the bars. “The action (suspension) taken by the SP government appears to be insufficient..such incidents also take place because those responsible get away with minor punishment “, the BSP supremo said, adding no action has been initiated against the real culprits who are behind such nefarious acts.
BJP MPs Ram Shankar Katheria and Rajvir Singh said: “The matter will be raised in Parliament Wednesday. We will also stage a dharna at the Gandhi statue”.
“People have lost their lives consuming liquor being made illicitly under the patronage of ruling party and the government claims to fulfill its responsibility merely by arresting a salesman and suspending some officials, Katheria said, alleging the real culprits are roaming freely.
A Congress delegation also visited the district and met the victims and their families. State in-charge of disciplinary committee of the Congress R K Dubey said his party will protest demanding justice and an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the families of the victims.
The victims, mostly daily wage labourers, had consumed the liquor bought from a local vendor in Aliganj area of Etah district Friday night. The main accused, Shri Pal Lodh, was arrested Saturday while 11 officials were suspended. The government also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the families of each deceased.
DGP Javeed Ahmed has already issued directives to conduct a drive against the manufacture and sale of illicit liquor.