Lucknow: An uneasy silence prevails in Phulpur area of Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj (Allahabad), a day after six persons died and around 15 others were taken ill in the slum colony allegedly after consuming illicit liquor.
The deceased were identified as Rajesh Gaur (48), Ramji Maurya (50), Basant Lal Patel (55), Shambhunath Maurya (55), Raj Bahadur Gautam (50) and Pyarelal (48), who worked at Allahabad University. Of these, Ramji Maurya died on the way to the hospital, two others died after reaching the hospital, and two people died at home, according to police sources.
The local police said that all the people who had died, had purchased country-made liquor on Friday morning from a government- controlled shop in Amilia village.
Most of those killed were the sole breadwinners of their families, who sustained themselves by doing menial jobs.
Prayagraj District Magistrate Bhanu Chandra Goswami said the incident took place in Amilia village under Phulpur police jurisdiction. The samples of the spurious liquor were sent for testing, the DM said, adding that the culprits would be punished as per the law. He said directives had been issued to ensure all possible medical facilities to those undergoing treatment in hospitals.
“A team of district officials reached Amilia village soon after getting information about the deaths due to consumption of illicit liquor. We have been informed about four deaths, while five to six people are admitted in the hospital,” Goswami was quoted as saying by PTI.
Meanwhile, the district administration has closed many government-controlled liquor shops in Phulpur region. "We are investigating what liquid they consumed and who sold it. We are carrying out raids and the culprits will be behind the bar soon," he said.
Kusum, the 15-year old girl, daughter of Basant Lal Patel, who was among the deceased, has been crying inconsolably since she lost him.
I want justice for my father. The killers of my father must be brought to book. I also want to the Uttar Pradesh government to investigate how and why illicit liquor trade is flourishing in the area. Who is involved?" Kusum told NewsClick.
In a scathing attack on Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s government, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that deaths due to consumption of “poisonous liquor” in the state were on a rise and the government was unable to handle the problem.
“In UP, there have been several deaths due to consumption of spurious liquor at many places, including Lucknow, Firozabad, Hapur, Mathura and Prayagraj. Deaths were also reported from Agra, Baghpat and Meerut due to consumption of spurious liquor. What's the reason that the Yogi government has failed to take action against the liquor mafia? Who is responsible?" Congress leader tweeted.
The latest incident has prompted the Adityanath-led government to order a high-level probe to look into all angles, including the possibility of a "political conspiracy"
In the past couple of days, at least 13 people have been estimated to have died allegedly due to consumption of illicit liquor. Last week, six people had died in Banthara area of the state capital, Lucknow, and seven in Hapur's Garh Mukteshwar area reportedly after consuming hooch during Diwali festival.