Hooch tragedy: Par­ties in­dulge in blame game

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ROOR­KEE/LUC­KNOW: Two peo­ple were ar­rested Sun­day in con­nec­tion with the hooch tragedy that claimed over 70 lives in two ad­join­ing dis­tricts in Ut­tarak­hand and Ut­tar Pradesh, po­lice said.

The death toll in Ut­tarak­hand rose to 36 on Sun­day, with 11 more peo­ple suc­cumb­ing af­ter con­sum­ing the spu­ri­ous liquor in a vil­lage in Harid­war dis­trict.

Ac­cord­ing to an Ut­tar Pradesh govern­ment state­ment re­leased Satur­day evening in Luc­know, 36 died in Sa­ha­ran­pur dis­trict which ad­joins Ut­tarak­hand.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, the ar­rested father-son duo, Fakira and Sonu, told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that they had pro­cured the spu­ri­ous liquor from Ut­tar Pradesh and sold it in Balupur and its neigh­bour­ing vil­lages in Ut­tarak­hand’s Harid­war dis­trict.

The two are res­i­dents of Balupur vil­lage, Harid­war SSP Jan­me­jay Khan­duri and Sa­ha­ran­pur SSP Di­nesh Ku­mar, who held a joint press con­fer­ence in Roor­kee, said.

The ac­cused have told in­ter­roga­tors that the liquor they had bought did not have its usual colour and smelt of diesel, the Harid­war Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent of Po­lice (SSP) said.

“It was white like milk and smelt of diesel,” they said in their state­ment to the po­lice.

The vic­tims, hail­ing from Harid­war dis­trict in Ut­tarak­hand and Sa­ha­ran­pur dis­trict in Ut­tar Pradesh, had con­sumed the liquor af­ter the ‘tehravin’, the 13th day of mourn­ing rit­ual, fol­low­ing a rel­a­tive’s death.

Ef­forts are un­der­way to ar­rest the res­i­dents of Pun­den vil­lage of Sa­ha­ran­pur who man­u­fac­tured the il­licit liquor, the Harid­war po­lice chief said.

He said raids had been con­ducted at their res­i­dence, but they are on the run.

The tragedy took a po­lit­i­cal hue on Sun­day, with UP Chief Min­is­ter Yogi Adityanath sug­gest­ing

the in­volve­ment of the Sa­ma­jwadi Party in “such mis­chievous acts” and BSP chief Mayawati seek­ing a CBI probe into the mat­ter.

Adityanath, from his home turf Go­rakh­pur, warned of stern ac­tion against all those found in­volved in il­licit liquor trade even if they were as­so­ci­ated with any po­lit­i­cal party.

“In the past too, such type of mis­chievous acts by SP lead­ers had come to fore. In Aza­m­garh, Har­doi, Kan­pur and Bara­banki, SP lead­ers were found to be in­volved in past hooch tragedies. We can’t deny con­spir­acy this time too,” Yogi told re­porters Satur­day night.

Sa­ma­jwadi Party (SP) pres­i­dent and for­mer Ut­tar Pradesh chief min­is­ter Akhilesh Ya­dav slammed the BJP govern­ment in the state over the deaths.

The Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party (BSP), the SP’S al­liance part­ner for the up­com­ing Lok Sabha polls, also blamed the BJP gov­ern­ments in UP and Ut­tarak­hand for the tragedy.

BSP chief Mayawati in a state­ment said that both the state gov­ern­ments were “cal­lous” in their ap­proach to­wards ban­ning the sale of spu­ri­ous liquor and de­manded a CBI probe into the tragedy.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the newly ap­pointed gen­eral sec­re­tary in charge of East UP, also de­manded the BJP gov­ern­ments in both the states en­sure strict pu­n­ish­ment to those re­spon­si­ble for the hooch tragedy.

Later on Sun­day, the Ut­tar Pradesh govern­ment or­dered a SIT probe into the deaths.

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