Chandigarh: Twenty-one people have died in three Punjab districts after allegedly drinking spurious liquor, prompting chief minister Amarinder Singh to order a magisterial probe, officials said on Friday.
The deaths took place in Punjab’s Amritsar, Batala and Tarn Taran districts since Wednesday night, an official statement said.
Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta said the first five fatalities were reported from Mucchal and Tangra villages in Amritsar’s Tarsikka on July 29 night.
On Thursday evening, two more people died under suspicious circumstances at Amritsar’s Muchhal village. One person died at Sri Guru Ram Das Hospital in Amritsar after being shifted from Tangra.
Later, two more deaths were reported from Mucchal village while another two people died in Batala, also due to the consumption of spurious liquor.
On Friday, five people died in Batala, taking the death toll in the city to seven, the DGP said, adding that four fatalities were reported from Tarn Taran.
Chief minister Amarinder Singh has ordered a magisterial inquiry by the Jalandhar divisional commissioner into the deaths of 21 people due to the alleged consumption of spurious liquor, the official statement said.
The inquiry will look into the facts and circumstances leading to the incidents, it said.
It will be conducted by the Jalandhar divisional commissioner along with the Punjab joint excise and taxation commissioner and the SP (investigation) in the concerned districts.
The chief minister has given the divisional commissioner the liberty to co-opt any civil/police officer or expert to facilitate the expeditious conduct of the probe.
Meanwhile, police have arrested Balwinder Kaur, a resident of Muchhal village, under Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code and under provisions of the Excise Act, the DGP said.
Chief minister Singh has promised strict action against anyone found complicit in the case and directed the police to launch a search operation to crack down on any spurious liquor manufacturing unit operating in the state.
The post-mortem of four people – Jaswinder Singh, Kashmir Singh, Kirpal Singh and Jaswant Singh – will be conducted on Friday to ascertain the exact cause of their death, the statement said.
According to the statement, the victims have been identified as Mangal Singh, Balwinder Singh, Dalbir Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Kashmir Singh, Kaka Singh, Kirpal Singh, Jaswant Singh and Joga Singh, all residents of Muchhal village; and Baldev Singh of Tangra.
Those who died in Batala have been identified as Buta Ram, Bhinda, Riku Singh, Kala, Kalu, Billa and Jatinder.
Those who died in Tarn Taran are Sahib Singh, Harban Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Dharam Singh.