The death toll due to the consumption of spurious liquor in Punjab has climbed to 86. So far, the police have carried out over 100 raids across Punjab and arrested around 25 people.
Police said 63 people have died in Tarn Taran, 12 in Amritsar and 11 in Batala after drinking spurious liquor.
Excise, police officials suspended
Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh ordered the suspension of seven excise officials, along with six policemen. Among the suspended officials are two deputy superintendents of police and four station house officers.
The tragedy has been unfolding since Wednesday evening in the three Punjab districts.
Denatured spirit was used
An excise official said though reports of the chemical analysis of the material seized in police raids are yet to arrive. A superficial check, however, showed that the material was denatured spirit, generally used in the paint or hardware industry.
Lahan seized from villages, dhabas
Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta in a statement said the raiding parties seized large quantities of ‘lahan’ (raw material for making liquor) from various villages and ‘dhabas’ in the region around the Shambhu border, Rajpura and Patiala.
Raids expose liquor racket
The raids have exposed a massive liquor racket, extending across several districts, he said, adding that several dhabas at Shambhu, Banur and Rajpura of Patiala have been sealed.
Meanwhile, the Batala police arrested Darshan Rani, alias Faujan, a key accused in the case.
Another accused, Beeri of Deo village, was arrested by the Tarn Taran Sadar police for supplying spurious alcohol, the DGP said.
Prem Singh, owner of Azad Transport, and Bhinda (wanted by the Tarn Taran police) were arrested by the Rajpura police in raids conducted on Saturday.
Meanwhile, police arrested a dhaba manager after recovering 200 litres of “lahan”. Dhaba owner Harjit Singh has also been named in the FIR, police said.
At Green Dhaba on the Rajpura-Chandigarh road in Zirakpur, about 200 litres of diesel-like liquid was recovered. The dhaba has been sealed and its owner Gurjant Singh has been arrested.
One Narinder Singh, owner of Multani Dhaba, has also been arrested in the case, said the DGP.
One of the key arrested accused who was bringing spurious liquor from Tarn Taran to Amritsar has been identified as Govinderbir Singh, alias Gobinda, of Jandiala City.
He was the main mastermind in Amritsar district, said police.
Modus operandi of the racket
Describing the modus operandi of the accused, the DGP said the trucks carrying spirit would be stopped at six to seven identified dhabas. Their owners collected hooch from the drivers and sold it to one Bhinda of Rajpura. Bhinda is also an accused in a Rajpura illegal liquor factory case.
Bhinda and Bittu of a village near Patiala’s Banur were supplying liquor to Amritsar and surrounding areas.
Raids are continuing with the Patiala SSP camping at Rajpura for supervision, the DGP said. He added that efforts were on to smash the supply chain of spurious alcohol.
To read the latest news in Gujarati click here