Sur­vivors de­mand 10 times more ex-gra­tia

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - Htnation - S Raju

UMAHI(SAHARANPUR): When dawn broke on Fri­day, screams could be heard from the far end of this vil­lage where Dal­its live. Vil­lage prad­han Mus­sarat Ja­han’s hus­band Mum­taj Ali rushed to the Dalit quar­ters where, he said, he was told that three men had died after drink­ing tainted liquor the pre­vi­ous night.

As vil­lagers con­soled the griev­ing fam­i­lies, re­ports of more peo­ple hav­ing fallen sick after con­sum­ing the same liquor came in. By the end of Fri­day, 11 more died, tak­ing the toll in Umahi to 14, the high­est in a sin­gle vil­lage among four vil­lages in Ut­tar Pradesh’s Saharanpur and Kushi­na­gar dis­tricts and neigh­bour­ing Ut­tarak­hand’s Haridwar where spu­ri­ous liquor claimed 77 lives. Prad­han Pati (prad­han’s hus­band) Ali listed 23 peo­ple among dead and those taken ill in Umahi after drink­ing the liquor.

Twelve of the 14 dead were Dal­its and the other two Mus­lims who con­sumed the liquor after pur­chas­ing it from a per­son iden­ti­fied sim­ply as Pintu, a Dalit. Pintu also con­sumed the liquor with his fa­ther Bal­ram, brother Jal Singh, un­cle Shyamu and an­other rel­a­tive, Ra­jku­mar. All five of them were among the dead.

Mat­loob, a mem­ber of the block de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee, claimed that bar­ring Shyamu and Ra­jku­mar, the other 12 vic­tims were less than 40 years old and left be­hind chil­dren as young as three years and as old as 16.

Re­ports of peo­ple dy­ing and fall­ing crit­i­cally ill after con­sum­ing spu­ri­ous liquor also came in from the nearby vil­lages of Mali, Sar­bat­pur and Salem­pur.

Saharanpur district mag­is­trate Alok Ku­mar Pandey ad­mit­ted to the deaths of 36 vil­lagers in the district and claimed that an ex-gra­tia pay­ment of ~2 lakh each was al­ready dis­trib­uted to fam­i­lies of 16 of the vic­tims.chief min­is­ter Yogi Adityanath had on Fri­day or­dered pay­ment to the kin.

The sur­vivors weren’t pleased with the amount. The money wouldn’t be enough for the fam­i­lies to sur­vive, some res­i­dents said, and de­manded 10 times as much to se­cure fam­i­lies’ fu­ture.

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