Botad: At least ten persons died and 20 others were admitted to different hospitals after consuming spurious liquor in Botad district of Gujarat, officials said on Monday night. Some of the patients are in critical condition, they said.
Police have detained a few persons and the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) and the Ahmedabad crime branch have also joined the investigation.
While two persons died in the morning, another five lost their lives while undergoing treatment during the day, Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) Ashish Bhatia had said. Three more persons died later during treatment, officials said on Monday late at night.
“As per our information, five persons from the Botad district and five from two villages of nearby Dhandhuka taluka of the Ahmedabad district have died so far. At least 20 persons are still under treatment at different hospitals, mostly at Sir Takhtsinhji hospital in Bhavnagar. Some of them are critical,” Botad Superintendent of Police Karanraj Vaghela told reporters on Monday late at night. He said a case of accidental death has been registered and some persons were detained for questioning.
“Police will add the charge of murder if required. Gujarat ATS as well as the Ahmedabad crime branch have also joined our probe to nab the culprits,” said Vaghela.
Bhatia had said the police detained three persons from the Botad district who were allegedly involved in manufacturing and selling spurious country-made liquor. Most of the deceased are labourers.
The matter came to light after some residents of Rojid village in Barvala taluka of Botad district and some other surrounding villages were referred to government hospitals in Barvala and Botad towns after their health started deteriorating early Monday morning.
Earlier in the day, the wife of a victim undergoing treatment had told reporters that her husband’s condition started deteriorating hours after he consumed hooch at Rojid village on Sunday night.
One Himmatbhai, who is recovering, claimed at least 15 people fell ill after consuming the hooch they had purchased from a bootlegger on Sunday night. Inspector General of Police (Bhavnagar range), Ashok Kumar Yadav, visited the Botad civil hospital in the evening. He said a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under a Deputy Superintendent of Police-rank officer will be formed to probe the incident and nab bootleggers who sold the spurious liquor.
Terming the incident “unfortunate” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is on a Gujarat visit, alleged that illegal liquor is being sold in large quantities in Gujarat where prohibition is in place. He alleged that people selling illicit liquor are enjoying political protection and demanded a probe into the “trail” of money generated by selling booze.
“It is unfortunate that despite prohibition, illegal liquor is sold in huge quantities in Gujarat. Who are the people who sell illegal liquor? They enjoy political protection. Where does the money (generated by selling illegal liquor) go? This needs to be probed,” he told reporters in Porbandar.
The Gujarat Prohibition Act, earlier known as the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949, empowers the police to arrest a person for purchasing, consuming or serving alcohol without a permit with punishment ranging from three months to five years in prison. It also penalises the transporting of liquor.