Opposition calls for CM’s resignation, CBI probe in Punjab hooch case

Opposition parties in Punjab on Sunday attacked the state government over the hooch tragedy that has killed 104 people, with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) asking chief minister Amarinder Singh to step down and demanding action against “Congress leaders patronising spurious liquor trade.”

The SAD also rejected the magisterial inquiry ordered by the state government and sought a probe either by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a sitting judge of the high court. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also demanded an investigation by the CBI, with its state chief Bhagwant Mann indicating that political leaders might be involved in it.

Also read: ‘Mind your business’: Punjab CM to Kejriwal on demand for CBI probe into hooch deaths

AAP also held a statewide agitation against the government.

Both parties demanded that a murder case be registered against those behind it. “There should be a probe by the CBI or a sitting judge of the high court into this incident,” SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia said, describing the investigation ordered by the state government as “farce and mere eyewash”.

He accused the state government of suppressing the actual number of casualties. He also demanded that former Tarn Taran senior superintendent of police (SSP) Dhruv Dahiya be booked for murder. He claimed that many people in the area had approached the then SSP about bootleggers and their alleged Congress “kingpins”, but the official had turned a blind eye.

AAP MP Bhagwant Mann said, “Nothing will happen with the transfer of some officers. The problem is deep rooted and there is a big nexus. People are openly taking names of leaders. There should be a probe by the CBI.”

Survivors of the tragedy have complained of low vision and uneasiness after consuming spurious liquor.

Fifty-year-old Tilak Raj, a contractual employee of the Batala Municipal Corporation, says he felt uneasy after drinking the liquor, which he had bought for ₹60 from Triveni Chauhan and Darshana Rani, alias Faujan, outside the Hathi Gate locality in Batala. Both accused have been arrested. “After I drank it, I was not able to see properly and felt uneasiness,” said Raj.

He survived as his family immediately took him to a doctor. “Now, I am feeling slightly better but my vision has not improved and I am feeling giddy,” said Raj.

According to a senior excise official, although the chemical analysis reports of the material seized in police raids were awaited, a superficial check showed that the material was denatured spirit, generally used in paint or hardware industry.

Meanwhile, some families of the deceased in Amritsar flayed the police for not taking any action against those culpable.

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