Govt orders judicial probe, toddy shops closed in 3 districts

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - 18:30

Malappuram: Kerala overnment today
sought the services of a sitting High Court judge to conduct
judicial probe into the hooch tragedy in Malappuram which
claimed 23 lives while five persons were arrested a part of
the investigations and closed down toddy shops in three
districts.

With the fear of the spurious liquor spreading to nearby
areas toddy shops in Malappuram, Palakkad and Thrissur
districts were shut down after one person was admitted to
hospital in Thrissur with eye problem after consuming toddy
from a shop.

A Deputy Commissioner and an Assistant Commissioner of
Excise in Malappuram were placed under and the authorities
indicated that action against more officials are likely in
the coming days.

The preliminary assessment based on analyses of samples
collected from the affected areas was that toddy was laced
with methyl alcohol to make it more heady, official sources
said.

Police had arrested two more persons today, taking the total
arrests to five in the case, including Unnikrishnan and
Balakrishnan, the licensees of the toddy shop at Kuttippuram
in Malappuram where most of the casualties happened.

Those arrested yesterday included one Dhravyan, the key
suspect who was allegedly running the shop at Kuttippuram
as benami for the licensees.

According to police and excise sources, the toddy was sourced
mainly from Palakkad district and it was mixed with chemical
substances to increase the kick.

Searches conducted at the house and godown of Dravyan last
night yielded documents throwing light into the wealth
amassed by him through liquor trade, sources said.

Enraged people in Malappuram and Palakkad let loose
their ire at toddy shops in many places in the area.

A meeting of the state cabinet announced a solatium of
Rs five lakh each for the kin of those died, Rs four lakh
each for those who lost the eye sight.

Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said murder charges would
be brought against the culprits and authorities had been asked
to take stringent action against adulteration of liquor.

The tragedy came at a time when liquor consumption and sales
reached dangerous proportions in Kerala, especially during the
festival season.

It also came as an embarrassment to the ruling LDF as the
state is getting for the local body polls of next month.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - 18:30

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