Bhopal: The city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh woke up to seven deaths on Wednesday morning after police found seven dead bodies on the roadside. The number almost doubled by the end of the day.
News of the chilling incident spread like wildfire in a bypoll-bound state. At the end of the day, the Ujjain police issued a statement which said that 12 bodies have been found so far. Most of the deceased were labourers and those who resorted to begging for a living. They reportedly died after after consuming hooch (potali) made of “denatured spirit” also called ‘ginger’.
With the matter gaining national attention, the Congress targeted the BJP government and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan formed a three-member Special Investigative Team (SIT) to look into the incident.
A team headed by Rajesh Rajora, Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, Additional Director General S.K. Jha and Deputy Inspector General, Ratlam Division, Sushant Saxena, has been formed and is camping in Ujjain at the moment.
Ujjain SP Manoj Kumar said that an FIR has been filed under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code and the Excise Act against three bootleggers and that one of them has been rounded-up.
In addition, four policemen, including M.S. Meena, the inspector of Kharakuwa police station, sub-inspector Niranjan Sharma and two constables have been suspended in connection with the incident.
Former CM Kamal Nath attacked the government. “The liquor mafia has again become active since the BJP government returned to power in the state. We had tried to control them when we were in power,” he said.
Illicit Liquor Flows ahead of Bypolls
With the dates of crucial bypolls to 28 seats approaching, illicit liquor is flowing in the state. In Ujjain itself, the police has recovered illicit liquor of worth Rs five lakh in the last month.
The scene of the crime, Ujjain, is only 12 kms away from bypoll bound Sanwer assembly seat of Indore district. The police seized Rs 55 lakh from Sanwer on October 7.
Since September 15, when the Election Commission of India announced bypoll dates, the state Excise Department and police have found illicit liquor worth Rs 4.27 crore. In addition, the police has seized narcotic worth over Rs one crore, Rs 1.94 crore in cash and other illegal material worth more than Rs 3.74 crore.
When asked about the connection between illicit liquor and the bypolls, Manoj Kumar Singh, the SP of Ujjain, said: “We often conduct campaigns against illegal liquor. The recent incident has nothing to do with liquor, but toxic spirit. All 12 deceased were habitual drinkers but on Tuesday night they drank too much and died.”
The SIT took over the case and probe is on, he added.
A few weeks ago, two BJP leaders were found distributing cash and saris in bypoll bound constituencies. Former Congress leader who switched to the BJP in March 2020, Bisahulal Singh from Anuppur district, was found distributing Rs 100 and Rs 500 notes during an event in Annupur.
Similarly, Public Health Engineering Minister Brijendra Singh Yadav was also caught on camera distributing saris to women in poll-bound Mungaoli. The Congress has filed a complaint with the Election Commission in both the incidents.
To keep a tab on illegal the use of liquor, cash, materials in the bye-elections, a total of 149 flying squads, 173 static surveillance teams have been deployed in the bypoll bound districts by the Election Commission, aside from an expenditure monitoring team.