Hooch tragedy: Excise probe finds official lapses



Thiruvananthapuram: A probe by the excise department into the twin hooch tragedy that claimed 26 lives in Mallapuram district has found lapses on the part of its officials in taking steps to prevent contamination of toddy despite intelligence warnings.

The preliminary inquiry findings also quoted police reports on the tragedy which pointed out that a section of officials were receiving money on regular basis from the 'liquor mafia'.

The report prepared by Excise Commissioner Subbai was submitted to the Excise Minister PK Gurudasn here today.

Twenty-six people died after consuming illicit liquor from two toddy shops in Kuttipuram and Vandoor in Mallapuram District on September 6 following which the state government ordered a judicial probe.

According to officials sources, the probe found that the Excise officials in the area failed to take preventive steps despite intelligence reports that contamination of toddy had been taking place in some parts of the state.

The officials did not bother to regularly collect samples from shops and send them for quality tests to authorised laboratories, it said.

The report also indicated that the toddy consumed by those dead was mixed with chemical material and spirit.

The tragedy in Kuttippuram in Malappuram, from where the majority of the victims consumed toddy, was quite serious as the shop was situated very near to the Excise office, the report said.

The report observed that the findings were of general nature since the state government had already ordered a judicial probe into the incident and also the investigation by the Crime Branch police was on.

Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court has turned down the state government's request for providing the services of a sitting judge to conduct the judicial inquiry into the tragedy.

High court sources said a written reply in this regard had been sent to the government.

PTI

Jammu: Several Hindu organisations today demanded that an all party delegation should visit Jammu and Ladakh regions and meet representatives of Jammu, Ladakh and displaced Kashmiri Pandits for taking note of their political aspirations and grievances.

"The people in Jammu and Ladakh regions have been at the receiving end in the state and their aspirations and grievances deserve urgent redressal and solutions," the leaders of these organisations said at a joint-press conference here.

Among those who were present included Ramakant Dubey (President of VHP state unit), Nand Kishore (state president of Bajrang Dal), Ashwani Chrungoo (President of Panun Kashmir), A N Vaishnavi (President of All State Kashmiri Pandit Conference) and Surrinder Aggrawal (President of Shri Baba Amarnath Yatri Niyas).

The all party delegation should not ignore political aspirations of people of Jammu, Ladakh and displaced Kashmiri Pandits and ensure to incorporate their views in a report to be submitted to the Centre, Dubey and Chrungoo said.

"We jointly resolve to safeguard national interests at all costs and appeal to patriotic forces to join together to fight this nationalist struggle in the state," the leaders said.

A delegation from the state comprising various organisations would meet personalities in Delhi and other places in the country to apprise them about the situation prevailing in the state, they said.

The leaders also collectively condemned violence and large-scale arson, besides asking the government to establish the rule of law in Jammu and Kashmir.

PTI