New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday sent a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government over reported deaths of 150 people in the last 15 years due to consuming "spurious liquor" in Pusaina village of Mainpuri district.
The commission, in a statement said it has taken suo motu cognisance of a media report which claimed that in Pusaina village, "out of 300 families, 150 have widows in the age of 25-65, whose husbands died after consuming spurious liquor in the last 15 years."
The NHRC has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, indicate "failure" on part of the concerned authorities in taking lawful action against culprits, forcing the distraught families to lead miserable lives violating their rights to life, liberty and dignity.
The commission issued the notice to the chief secretary, seeking a detailed report in four weeks.
"The report should be comprehensive, covering the steps taken or proposed to be taken by the state agencies along with status of benefits of the social welfare schemes provided to the aggrieved families," it said in the statement.
The illegal business of hooch has been thriving in the area for years together as mentioned in the news report and no action seems to have been taken to address the issue, it said.
Recently, around 100 people died due to consumption of spurious liquor in Saharanpur and Kushinagar districts of Uttar Pradesh and Haridwar district of neighbouring Uttarakhand.
According to media reports, the hooch was suspected to have been made in villages near the Uttarakhand-Uttar Pradesh border, the commission said.
"According to the media report, carried today, in Pusaina village there are families, which have lost more than one male member. The noxious alcoholic concoction, that sometimes comes mixed with deadly urea, battery fluid and chemicals, for an instant and extra high, is the main cause of deaths in such a large number," the statement said.
"Reportedly, according to local residents, of these, 600-700 litres is manufactured in Pusaina village alone, right under the nose of police and the excise department. It is mentioned in the news report that usually 60-80 litres of liquor is consumed by the villagers per day and the remaining is supplied to the nearby villages and adjoining districts," it added.
The liquor made in Pusaina is reportedly very popular due to mixing of urea in jaggery and yeast, to 'guarantee' a strong kick, the rights panel said, quoting the report.
"The village pradhan has also stated that the hooch business in the village has now declined in comparison with the past, but it still continues. He has further mentioned that he tried to stop the illegal trade in the village after many deaths occurred but he was threatened by the mafia," the statement said.
"Not only this, even children aged 10 years, are involved in the illegal hooch trade, with the passage of time, they also become the consumers of the spurious liquor," it said, quoting the report.
As mentioned in the report, the superintendent of police of Mainpuri has stated that police have been making sincere efforts to destroy the illegal business in the district and have seized property worth Rs 11 crore from some of the kingpins of the liquor mafia. Police parties are also conducting raids to destroy the network, it said.