Making a statement in the Assembly, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said seven persons had been arrested on the basis of preliminary administrative enquiry into the incident, but the owner of the liquor den Badshah Khokon, named in the FIR, was absconding.
Investigation into the incident had been handed over to the CID, she said. Something toxic was mixed in the liquor, she said, adding as per reports last received, 101 people had died and 80 bodies had been sent for post-mortem. Banerjee said the state government had already announced compensation of Rs two lakh for the families of the dead.
Trade in illicit liquor has been going on for a long time in the state and it is a social problem, she said, and added that the state government would help the traders if they switched to other businesses like setting up tea or fruit stalls.
Banerjee said an all-party decision must be taken on the steps required to end the menace of illicit liquor. She said the government could have legalised the business and earned revenue for the cash-strapped exchequer, but would not do it.
"Character cannot be bought with money," she said.
The chief minister suggested that the all-party meeting be held on December 19 so that she could be present.
Speaker Biman Bandopadhyay agreed to the suggestion and fixed the all-party meeting on that date.
While expressing satisfaction at the chief minister's statement, Rezzak Molla of the opposition CPI(M) said the incident occurred under the very nose of the police.
The high toll could have been avoided if the medical team had intervened in time, Molla said.Banerjee asked Molla to find out through his party network who the den owner Badshah Khokon was. The business in illicit liquor was going on for a long time and it should not get political support.