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One Arrested After Illicit Liquor Claims 7 Lives in Dehradun, Excise Dept Officials Under Radar

Five officials, including three excise officials and two police officials, have already been suspended.

Anupam Trivedi | News18

Updated:September 21, 2019, 7:53 PM IST
One Arrested After Illicit Liquor Claims 7 Lives in Dehradun, Excise Dept Officials Under Radar
Representative Image (Reuters).

Dehradun: As seven people lost their lives in Dehradun after consuming illicit liquor on Friday, the government has tightened the noose around nexus between the section of officials, politicians and liquor mafia. This is the second incident in seven months where people died after consuming hooch.

Earlier in February, more than 38 people died in Haridwar district after consuming unscrupulous liquor.

Among the accused is Ajay Sonkar alias Ghonchu and is reportedly associated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Alleged illicit liquor peddler Sonkar was earlier associated with Congress and had switched sides last year. His photos with leaders of both Congress the and BJP has embarrassed leaders.

“Government will act against all those who are responsible for the deaths, no matter how strong political connections they have,” Ganesh Joshi, senior BJP legislator from Mussoorie told News18. Joshi is also seen with accused Ghonchu in one of the photographs.

Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, who also holds excise department, has asked officials to act against the offenders. District Magistrate C Ravishankar said a magisterial probe has already been ordered and the report is expected in two weeks.

A top official in Uttarakhand’s excise department said eight officials of the department are on ‘radar’, while five officials, including three excise officials and two police officials, have been suspended.

Meanwhile, the ruling BJP and opposition are passing the buck over the matter. Former chief minister Harish Rawat accused the government of going soft on “politically aligned liquor traders”. The BJP legislator and spokesperson Munna Chauhan asked Rawat to refrain from indulging in “dirty politics”.

Sources said illegal hooch business has skyrocketed in the last few years in major cities of Uttarakhand which have witnessed massive expansion. More than 150 slums are in Dehradun alone and are seen as “potential market”. Excise department on Saturday collected samples from various country liquor shops in the state capital. The eyes are also set on a liquor factory in the outskirts of city.

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| Edited by: Sana Fazili
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