Death toll rises to 42, two SPs transferred, six officers suspended

Ahmedabad: In Gujarat’s Botad district, the number of people who allegedly lost their lives due to drinking spurious liquor has risen to 42.

At a press conference in Gandhinagar on Wednesday, Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghvi said that the police will file a charge sheet in the case within 10 days and the matter will go to fast track court.

“Two days ago in Gujarat’s Botad district, 42 civilians have died due to consumption of spurious liquor containing highly toxic methyl alcohol,” he said. 15 main accused who sold liquor to people, including the main accused who obtained the chemicals, have already been arrested.

On July 26, nine people admitted to various hospitals died during treatment.

He said around 97 people are still admitted in hospitals in Bhavnagar, Botad and Ahmedabad. “The police will file the charge sheet in the case within 10 days and the matter will be taken up in the fast track court,” Sanghvi said.

He said the government will also appoint a special prosecutor in the case.

On July 26, the Botad and Ahmedabad police registered three FIRs against around 20 people under sections 302, 328 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). At least 15 people have been arrested so far in connection with the case.

The Vadodara rural police on Wednesday arrested Jatubha Rathod, the accused named in the FIR registered by the Barwala police in Botad, who had absconded after the case was registered, an official said.

This spurious liquor case came to light on Monday (July 25) morning when some people living in Botad’s Rozid village and other nearby villages were admitted to government hospitals in Barwala and Botad area after the his condition deteriorated.

Police said preliminary investigation has revealed that some petty liquor sellers in different villages of Botad had made spurious liquor by mixing water with “methyl alcohol” (methanol), which is highly toxic. They sold it to the villagers at a price of 20 rupees a ‘bag’.

According to the police, the forensic analysis revealed that the victims had consumed ‘methyl alcohol’.

After the tragedy, Sanghvi announced that the state’s home department had decided to tighten controls on the production and sale of methyl alcohol in the state.

The state government said in a press release that the Gujarat Home Department has constituted a three-member committee under the chairmanship of Senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Subhash Trivedi to conduct a detailed investigation into the matter. The commission will present its report in three days.

So far, police investigation has revealed that a person named Jayesh alias Raju had stolen 600 liters of ‘methyl alcohol’ from a premises in Ahmedabad. Raju was a manager in that warehouse. He had sold the stolen ‘methyl alcohol’ to a relative of his brother Sanjay, a resident of Botad, on July 25 for Rs 40,000.

Police said, “Knowing that it is an industrial solvent, Sanjay sold it to liquor sellers in different villages of Botad. These sellers mixed this chemical with water and sold it to people calling it country liquor.

Two superintendents of police transferred, six officers suspended

Meanwhile, the Gujarat Home Department on Thursday transferred the Superintendents of Police of Botad and Ahmedabad districts and suspended six other policemen.

An official said this action has been taken after 42 people died due to drinking spurious liquor.

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajkumar said, “We have transferred Botad Superintendent of Police Karanraj Vaghela and Ahmedabad Superintendent of Police Virendra Singh Yadav. Two sub-inspectors of police, one inspector of circle police, one police inspector and two sub-inspectors.

The suspended police officers included Dholka Mandal, Ahmedabad, NV Patel, Botad Assistant Superintendent of Police SK Trivedi, Ahmedabad Dhandhuka Police Station Inspector KP Jadeja, Dhandhuka Mandal Police Inspector Circle SB Choudhary and Sub-Inspector of Botad Singh and Ran Shaaen BG.

The letter of suspension issued by the Department of the Interior of the State states that these agents have been suspended for “breach of obligations, since they did not prevent the transport, sale, etc., of alcoholic beverages containing toxic chemicals in their respective areas”.

Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Youth Congress workers staged separate protests on Wednesday against the BJP government over the liquor tragedy that claimed more than 40 lives in Gujarat in the last three days, and Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghvi called for his resignation.

Under the leadership of AAP state unit president Gopal Italia, AAP workers staged a sit-in against the government in front of the BJP office in Botad Nagar.

Youth Congress members protested in other cities of the state like Surat and Jamnagar. They burnt Sanghvi’s effigy and demanded his resignation over the tragedy.

Gujarat Youth Congress President Vishwanath Singh Vaghela tweeted: “Gujarat Youth Congress burns effigy of Home Minister (junior) Harsh Sanghvi and demands his resignation in connection with botad poisonous liquor scandal”.

AAP Italy state president led the protest at the BJP office in Botad and demanded justice for the families of the victims of the tragedy.

“The AAP workers also demanded the resignation of Harsh Sanghvi, who has failed to control liquor smugglers,” AAP said in a statement. State President Italy along with AAP workers and local leaders held a protest at Gandhi Chindhya Marg in Botad and the protest got support from the local people.

Before organizing the protest, Gopal Italia went to Rozid village where many people lost their lives and met the bereaved family members.

Quoting local residents, Italy claimed that BJP leaders often manage to transfer honest police officers.

Categories: special from India

Tagged As: Aam Aadmi Party, Ahmedabad, Barvala, Bhavnagar, BJP, Botad, Congress, 42 dead, dead, Gujarat, Gujarat liquor tragedy, liquor tragedy, News, poison liquor, spurious liquor tragedy, six suspended cops, The Wire Hindi

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