Barabanki: Five-year-old Raju has been searching for his father since yesterday in the entire village. The villagers have told him that his father has been admitted to the hospital. The truth is his father Mukesh is one of the 23 victims of the hooch tragedy in Uttar Pradesh which took place on Tuesday, May 28.
In Barabanki district, hardly 50 kilometres from the state capital of Lucknow, 23 people have lost their lives and 30 more admitted to hospitals after consuming spurious liquor yesterday.
According to the Ramnagar police, people in the Raniganj area consumed liquor on Monday night and their health condition started to deteriorate after it. The victims of the illicit liquor were then rushed to the local community health centre (CHC).
The shop from where these people had reportedly bought the liquor belongs to one Danveer Singh who owns a government leased shop. Danveer is believed to be a resident of Bahraich and has been absconding since then. Among those who died are four brothers from the same family.
Also read: Spurious Liquor Claims 12 Lives in UP’s Barabanki, 40 Taken Ill
Narrating the ordeal, Raju’s mother says that her husband was badly drunk when he returned on Monday night at around 11 PM. “His father came and asked for food. He was drunk and he ate more than his regular diet and after that he went to sleep but before dozing off he started vomiting and complained of chest pain. We, with the help of neighbours and family members, took him to the government hospital but found that there were more people with the same problem,” she said, while preparing for the post last rites rituals.
The grieving wife further added that, “On enquiring with the bystanders and attendees of the patients we found that everyone at the hospital had consumed the liquor bought from the same shop.”
Meanwhile ten of the deceased have been identified as Rajesh, Ramesh Kumar, Sonu, Mukesh, Chotelal, Surya Bhan, Rajesh Verma, Mahendra and Mahendra Kumar. The postmortem of the other six is yet to be done and their identity has not been revealed yet.
It is to be noted that this tragedy has occurred three months after more than 100 lives were lost in Saharanpur and Kushinagar due to hooch.
Also read: Hooch Tragedy Claims 10 Lives in Uttar Pradesh
In a latest development, the police have arrested the main accused Pappu Jaiswal after exchanging several rounds of fire in the wee hours of Wednesday. Pappu was carrying a bounty of Rs 20,000. The Uttar Pradesh government on the orders of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had formed a committee headed by UP Excise Commissioner to probe the incident. The committee has been asked to submit its report to the government within 48 hours.
On the orders of the administration, District Excise Officer, Excise Inspector, Ramnagar Circle Officer, and Station House Officer have been suspended with immediate effect.
The bandwidth of illicit liquor trade in Uttar Pradesh
UP is one of the leading states in production and consumption of illicit liquor, believe retired top cops of the state. A former IPS officer who had held the post of UP DGP said, “The entire Ganga belt from west UP to east UP has several pockets where people from the marginalised section are into the business of making hooch.
“Hooch making is no longer a micro industry and is now operating at the extent of a small scale illegal industry running across the state. The magnitude of this illegally flourishing business is so large that one or two people die everyday and most cases go unreported. The cases are reported only when more than five or six people die and it comes to the notice of media,” he said.
Bhanmati, who won the President’s Award for raising her voice against the illicit liquor trade says that hooch is a low cost pain subsiding remedy which is easily available for the poor.
“People who drink hooch come from the lower and financially weaker sections of the society. They drink it because it provides them some relief and good sleep after they end their work. There is no other relaxation for these people and they easily get addicted to it,”she said.
Also read: Hooch Deaths Spur Protests In Saharanpur, Locals Demand Compensation
It may be mentioned that Bhanmati was also in the illicit liquor making industry for a long time but she then worked on curbing this problem after witnessing several youths of her village lose their lives due to consumption of liquor.
A Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment survey report, Magnitude of Substance Use in India, stated that of the total 160 million people consuming alcohol, about 30%, roughly about 48 million people, drink country liquor.
According to WHO’s Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018, India’s per capita alcohol consumption stood at 2.4 litres, 4.3 litres and 5.7 litres in 2005, 2010 and 2016, respectively. The report predicts India’s per capita consumption will increase further by 2.2 litres by 2025.