Police started issuing warnings on Wednesday against consumption of locally made Malta liquor from batch date Nov 16, 2021, made by Oasis Overseas Distillery.
Four more people died in different districts of Haryana in the last 24 hours, officials said on Saturday, taking the toll from deaths due to consumption of spurious liquor to 18 in four days.
The deceased were identified as Paramjit (48), who only goes by one name, of Saaran village, Rishi Pal (45) of Mangloura village and Arun Kumar (30) of Mandebari village, all from the district of Yamunanagar. The identity of the fourth victim could not immediately be ascertained. At least 18 deaths have been reported in the past four days across five villages, including Panjeto Ka Majra and Phoosgarh, of Yamunanagar district.
Yamunanagar police, which has formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the matter, said it arrested three local men — Mahender, a liquor contractor, Subhash and Radhe, who all go by one name — on Saturday. Ten people in total have been arrested in the district, including two illegal vendors, and four in Ambala in connection with the case.
Himadree Kaushik, the additional superintendent of police (SP) of Yamunanagar, said, “16 people have died here. We arrested seven men earlier including a few prime accused, who have further disclosed involvement of several others. We are issuing warnings to the villagers to not consume the same brand of liquor in view of the tragedy.”
The police started issuing warnings on Wednesday against the consumption of locally made Malta liquor from batch date November 16, 2021, made by Oasis Overseas Distillery.
Most of the deceased were labourers, police said.
According to SP Jashandeep Singh Randhawa, Ambala district police traced the source of the liquor supply to a makeshift site in Dhanoura village, which falls under the purview of Mullana police station. Police raided the site on Wednesday night and seized 14 empty drums and the material used for making the illicit liquor.
They are trying to find out when the accused started making the liquor and who were involved in its manufacture, police said.
Two men, who were working at the illegal unit and consumed the same batch of illicit liquor, also reportedly died. It was not immediately clear if these deaths were included in the death toll.
Arshinder Singh Chawla, additional director general of police (ADGP) of the Haryana state enforcement bureau, Haryana Police, visited the site of the illegal alcohol manufacture on Saturday.
Haryana school education minister and Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Jagadhri in the Yamunanagar district, Kanwar Pal, said that he will speak to chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar to provide financial assistance to the victims’ families.
“This is the biggest such tragedy in the history of Yamunanagar. A detailed report has been sought from the police department. We have ensured that no culprit will be spared and that those admitted at the hospital are given proper treatment. 10 police teams have been constituted to arrest the accused. Stock at all liquor vends in the area is also being checked,” he said.
Demanding action, opposition parties targeted the state government over the deaths. Former Haryana chief minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Thursday said the state government has failed to learn any lessons from several such incidents in the past.
“The black trade of intoxicants is spreading in the state under the patronage of the BJP-JJP (Jannayak Janta Party) government and the deaths are the result of the failure of the government,” the leader of the Opposition said.
Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Chautala said if action had been taken in previous incidents, the new deaths could have been avoided.