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Gujarat police launch crackdown on hooch

Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD: Stung by the hooch tragedy in Ahmedabad, the Gujarat police have launched massive prohibition raids to flush out every liquor drop illegally brewed or supplied in the State. Over 200 patients are still in the hospitals.

Director General of Police S.S. Khandwawala said here on Saturday that since Tuesday when the tragedy took place, the police conducted 8,076 raids at all known liquor dens and booked 6,713 persons for violation of prohibition.

Mr. Khandwawala denied involvement of any ruling BJP leader in the hooch supply chain as alleged by the Congress and said so far the police had found no evidence of involvement of the former Mehmadabad municipality president, Rasik Parmar. He asserted that anyone involved, irrespective of party affiliation or post, would be booked by the police.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, Abhay Chudasma, said the spurious liquor was brought from Mehmadabad, near here, and the supplier was Vinod Chauhan alias Dagri of Vantwadi village in Mehmadabad. He said Harishankar Kahar, the main distributor, had bought 700 litres and another bootlegger, Daddu Chhara another 400 litres of the killer drink from Dagri. While Kahar sold the stuff in Odhav area where he ran a supply chain, Daddu sold the spurious drinks in Majoor Gaam from where the first deaths were reported.

The Crime Branch investigating the case also arrested three of Kahar’s associates, Vipul Luhar, Uttam Luhar and Himmatsinh, and secured 11-day police custody for them.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi held a high-level meeting with Home Department officials and top police officers to review the case even as many schools and colleges remained voluntarily closed in view of the “bandh” calls given by various organisations to protest against the liquor tragedy.

Union Minister Bharat Solanki visited the hospitals and inquired about the condition of the patients. He appealed to the State government to consider helping the affected families on humanitarian grounds.

Protests against the hooch tragedy were organised in various parts of the State, while the new Mahagujarat Janata Party headed by the former Minister of State for Home Gordhan Jhadaphia took out a rally here and demanded Mr. Modi’s resignation.

Meanwhile, the State government strongly reacted to liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s “advice” to lift prohibition in the State to avoid recurrence of such a tragedy.

Cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said Mr. Mallya had only his own business interest in mind.

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