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Punjab hooch tragedy: 12 more held, toll rises to 108

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Police on Monday arrested 12 more persons, including two businessmen, and launched a manhunt for a Ludhiana-based paint business owner who had initially supplied the three drums of spurious liquor that had triggered the wave of deaths. The death toll, meanwhile, has gone up to 108, with 82 deaths in Tarn Taran and 13 each in Amritsar and Batala.

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh directed DGP Dinkar Gupta to put the full might of the police force in tracking and apprehending every person involved in the case and move swiftly to ensure stringent action against each of them.

Police have launched a departmental inquiry against the two DSPs and four SHOs suspended for negligence. The magisterial inquiry ordered by Amarinder is also probing the involvement of all suspects, as well as the six police and seven suspended excise and taxation officers.

With the latest arrests, the total number of arrests in the case has gone
up to 37, including five kingpins of the illicit liquor mafia that spanned several districts of the state. A manhunt has been launched for eight more identified accused, including Ludhiana-based paint shop owner Rajesh Joshi, believed to be a key player in the mafia chain, said the DGP.

Investigations are also in progress to identify other links, he said, adding that efforts are in progress to identify the various supply routes across districts since there were multiple buyers of the Ludhiana-based businessman, who was still absconding The DGP said raids were still continuing.

Among the arrests made in the past 24 hours is Ravinder Singh Anand of Moga. Ravinder, who runs a factory manufacturing mechanical jacks, had bought 3 cans of 200 litres each of the spurious liquor at Rs 11,000 a drum from the Ludhiana businessman. He had recently started manufacturing hand sanitisers.

From Ravinder, the three drums went to one Avtar Singh, also of Moga, who sold it to Harjit Singh and his two sons, residents of village Pandori Gola in Tarn Taran, for Rs 28,000 a drum. Harjit and his sons paid Rs 50,000, with balance still pending, and hid the drums in the bushes near their village.

Further investigations have revealed that Harjit and his sons (Santam and Shamsher) gave 42 bottles worth of spurious spirit from the drums to Gobinder Singh for Rs 6,000. Each of these bottles was diluted by him by 10% to make 46 bottles, which he sold to the sons of Balwinder Kaur on July 28 and 29 in two instalments of 23 bottles each. Balwinder, the first person to be arrested in the case, had further diluted the alcohol by adding 50% water and sold a bottle of the diluted spirit for Rs 100.

Meanwhile, Ravinder Singh has revealed that he was an associate of a Moga-based paint store owner named Ashwini Bajaj, who has been arrested. Ravinder’s questioning revealed the involvement of Rajesh Joshi, who is evading arrest.

Source: TOI

Image Source: The Daily Guardian

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