Hooch toll 171, excise OC suspended in WB

Last Updated: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 18:02

Canning: Deaths in the worst-ever hooch
tragedy in West Bengal continued unabated on Friday with the toll
touching 171 amidst fears of more casualties as authorities
suspended the excise officer-in-charge for dereliction of
duty.

The Officer-in-charge of Excise department in Diamond
Harbour, Radheshyam Pande, was today suspended on charge of
dereliction of duty, South 24-Parganas district police
superintendent L N Meena said.

According to the Chief Medical Officer (Health) S
Adhikary, the killer hooch claimed 171 lives in Diamond
Harbour sub-divisional hospital, M R Bangur hospital and at
National Medical college and hospital.

She said that nearly 90 victims were still under
treatment in the hospitals where condition of some was
critical.

Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting
C M Jatua said that he had shot off a letter to the
Commissioner of Excise three months ago, calling for action
against mushrooming of liquor joints in Sangrampur and other
areas of the district.

"No action has been taken so far," Jatua told news agency.
The CMO(H) said that Diamond Harbour sub-divisional
hospital, where most of the victims were admitted, alone
accounted for 121 deaths, followed by 44 in M R Bangur
hospital and six in National medical college and hospital.

She said that blood samples of the victims had been
sent to Belgachia laboratory by forensic experts.

Police said that 12 arrests were so far made but the
kingpin of the hooch racket Khonra Badshah was still
absconding.

Meanwhile, a CID team, led by DIG, CID (operations) K
Jayraman, visited Sangrampur and adjacent villages as also
hospitals to talk to the victims as part of the inquiry
process into the hooch tragedy.

The hooch victims included labourers, rickshaw pullers
and hawkers.

Postmortem on 141 bodies have been done and the bodies
handed over to the respective families, police said.

Police said that 12-year-old Raju Laskar, who took a
glass of killer hooch out of fun mistaking it a glass of
water, died at the M R Bangur hospital last night.

Health department sources said doctors, nurses, and
para-medical staff whose leaves were cancelled were working
overtime to attend the hooch victims.

The victims fell ill after consuming spurious liquor
from several illegal joints on Tuesday night. Preliminary
investigations suggest that the deaths occurred due to methyl
alcohol toxicity which led to respiratory and cardiac failure.

Meanwhile, locals on Friday dismantled many liquor joints in
Mograhat, Usthi and nearby areas in the district.

Excise department personnel broke hundreds of hooch
bottles and destroyed the shanties in North 24-parganas
district.

PTI



First Published: Friday, December 16, 2011 - 10:14

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