Hooch toll 171, excise OC suspended in West Bengal

Hooch Tragedy
Canning (WB), Dec 16: Deaths in the worst-ever hooch tragedy in West Bengal continued unabated today with the toll touching 171 amidst fears of more casualties as authorities suspended the excise officer-in-charge for dereliction of duty.

The Officer-in-charge of Excise department in Diamond Harbour, Radheshyam Pande, was today suspended on charge of dereliction of duty, South 24-Parganas district police superintendent L N Meena said.

According to the Chief Medical Officer (Health) S Adhikary, the killer hooch claimed 171 lives in Diamond Harbour sub-divisional hospital, M R Bangur hospital and at National Medical college and hospital. She said that nearly 90 victims were still under treatment in the hospitals where condition of some was critical.

Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting C M Jatua said that he had shot off a letter to the Commissioner of Excise three months ago, calling for action against mushrooming of liquor joints in Sangrampur and other areas of the district.

"No action has been taken so far," Jatua told PTI. The CMO(H) said that Diamond Harbour sub-divisional hospital, where most of the victims were admitted, alone accounted for 121 deaths, followed by 44 in M R Bangur hospital and six in National medical college and hospital.

She said that blood samples of the victims had been sent to Belgachia laboratory by forensic experts. Police said that 12 arrests were so far made but the kingpin of the hooch racket Khonra Badshah was still absconding. 


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