Alcohol protects against coronavirus? Don't fall for rumours, says Punjab's COVID expert

By Express News Service
LUCKNOW: Yet another Hooch tragedy has hit BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, this time in Aligarh district in western UP. At least 12 people from three villages have reportedly died after consuming spurious liquor since Thursday late night. 

As many as 17 others from the same villages have also been admitted to hospitals. Some of them are stated to be critical.

The series of deaths since Thursday late night happened in Karsua and Andla villages under Lodha police station area and Chherat village under Jawan police station area.

According to ADG-Agra Zone Rajiv Krishna, who visited Aligarh district after the incident, “Four men, including one of the three key accused Anil Chaudhary, have been arrested, while other accused, among them the two other key accused Rishi Sharma and Vipin Yadav are on the run. A bounty of Rs 50,000 has been placed on the arrest of each the two absconding key accused.”

As many as six police teams have been formed to investigate the Hooch tragedy and arrest the absconding accused, he added.

DIG-Aligarh Deepak Kumar said as per the instructions of CM Yogi Adityanath, Gangster Act and NSA proceedings will be initiated against the accused.

The three key accused — Anil Chaudhary, Rishi Sharma and Vipin Yadav — are influential men of Aligarh district, who control most of the licensed liquor vends in the West UP district through financial investments.

Anil Chaudhary, who is a newl- elected Aligarh district panchayat member, was arrested along with his brother in a similar case in 2009, while one of the absconding accused Rishi Sharma, has recently won the Ksehtra Panchayat polls. Chaudhary is reportedly associated with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).

Three excise department officers, including district excise officer, an excise inspector and a constable have been suspended in the matter and a department enquiry started against them.

Five licensed liquor vends near the affected villages have been sealed and samples from those vends sent for lab analysis. Around 500 more licensed liquor vends across Aligarh district, meanwhile, have been closed till the investigation in the hooch tragedy case is completed.

According to Ritesh Upadhyaya, the village pradhan of the worst hit Karsua village (which lost 8 lives), the liquor was purchased from the nearest licensed liquor vend. “Since Thursday night, the villagers started vomiting or else complained of loss of vision and some of them died, after which the matter came to the knowledge of the local administration and police.”

On the spot investigations and recording statements of hospitalized villagers have revealed that all of them had consumed Good Evening brand liquor.

“Investigations so far suggest that liquor which was purchased from the liquor vend near the Indian Oil Company (IOC) gas plant could have been mixed with some other chemical and then sold from the shop. There is a strong possibility of the liquor being mixed with some chemical in some nearby areas only.

Samples of liquor consumed by the residents of the affected villages as well as samples from the concerned liquor vend have been sent for chemical testing and anything concrete can be said only after the test reports are out,” Aligarh district excise officer Dhiraj Sharma said hours before his suspension.

Importantly, prior to Aligarh district, incidents of death due to spurious liquor consumption have been reported from other parts of UP also, including the recently concluded panchayat polls too. Deaths reportedly due to spurious/illicit liquor consumption were reported over the last two months from otherdistricts, including six deaths last month in Hathras district (which neighbours Aligarh), Ambedkar Nagar district and Chitrakoot district.