Rajat Sharma Blog: Gujarat toxic hooch tragedy who did it? , Who is responsible for the deaths due to spurious liquor in Gujarat?

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India TV Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma.

The death toll in Gujarat due to spurious liquor reached 40 on Wednesday. Seven more people died in this incident during the last 12 hours. About 50 people are still fighting for their lives in hospitals in Ahmedabad, Botad and Bhavnagar. Most of the dead were from villages in Botad district, while the rest were residents of Dhanduka taluka of Ahmedabad district.

The police have arrested ten people in this case. The Ahmedabad and Botad police have registered 3 FIRs against about twenty people on charges of murder (IPC Section 302), causing harm (Section 328), and criminal conspiracy (Section 120B). In the early hours of Monday, those consuming spurious liquor were admitted to hospitals in Botad and Ahmedabad.

The Gujarat government has constituted a three-member committee headed by a senior IPS officer Subhash Trivedi to investigate the matter and submit a report within 3 days.

India TV correspondent Niyaan Kapoor went to the village where many people died due to spurious liquor. They came to know that a guard named Jayesh alias Raju had stolen 600 liters of methyl alcohol or methanol from a godown in Ahmedabad. It is a poisonous chemical that comes in industrial use. Jayesh sold that ethanol to his cousin Sanjay for Rs 40,000. Sanjay sold this toxic chemical to the smugglers of spurious liquor in Botad and its surrounding areas. He mixed water with methyl alcohol and sold it to people at the rate of Rs 20 per sachet. In this way about 110 liters of methyl alcohol and water were mixed and filled in sachets and sold to people in many villages. Police said that out of 600 liters of methyl alcohol stolen from the godown, 490 liters have been recovered.

Liquor prohibition is strictly enforced in Gujarat since 1960. It is sad and surprising that such a large number of people died here due to poisonous liquor. Usually spurious liquor sellers use ethyl alcohol, but in this incident methyl alcohol was used. Methyl alcohol is poisonous, and is used only in industries. Because of its cheapness, spurious liquor traders use it.

According to the police, the first delivery of methyl alcohol in the name of liquor was made on July 22. It was first filled in drums, then 5-5 liter bags were made from it. Those who bought it, mixed water in it, then made small bags of it and sold it as country liquor. Methyl alcohol is extremely toxic. A person can die within 15 minutes of drinking it. Once it reaches the body, it damages the liver and can lead to multi-organ failure. Since water was added to the chemical, its effect was visible in 12 to 24 hours.

When asked how illicit liquor was being sold there, Botad SP told our correspondent that usually country liquor was secretly made and sold in many villages. The SP said that since it takes at least 6 days to make country liquor, and there is a fear of police raids, now those selling spurious liquor found a shortcut way and used methyl alcohol.

But the sarpanch of Rojid village of Botad district revealed that he had given a written complaint to the police 4 months back that illegal liquor was being sold in his area, but the police did not take any action.

The negligence of the local police in this matter is clearly visible. The Botad SP, however, dismissed the sarpanch’s allegations as baseless, but admitted that he had received the sarpanch’s letter in March this year. The SP claimed that action was taken against the accused and several cases were also registered. He said that spurious liquor makers mixed water with methyl alcohol by adopting a shortcut method.

This incident in Gujarat raises many questions. Fake, poisonous liquor is sold in Gujarat because there is a ban on alcohol, so should the ban on liquor be lifted? This business of poisonous liquor happened due to the use of methyl alcohol in the industry, so should the supply of methyl alcohol to the industry be stopped? People came to the verge of death due to alcohol poisoning, but kept avoiding going to the hospital because they were afraid that the police would make a case against them, so should the police stop making cases against those who drink alcohol in a dry state?

I say time and again, always say that banning something is not a solution. One way is to make people aware, to explain the difference between real and fake, this may reduce such accidents. But it is difficult to stop the business of spurious liquor, raw liquor, spurious liquor in the dry state.

As far as the police is concerned, she cannot escape by saying that she had closed the distilleries of raw liquor. I feel that without the connivance of the local police, such wrongdoings could not have happened. Along with action against the criminals, there should also be identification of those policemen who give protection to those who do such black acts. Although this is not a matter of politics, but still since this incident happened in Gujarat, and there are assembly elections to be held in December, the political parties have started attacking each other. (Rajat Sharma)

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