1998 hooch tragedy accused acquitted

Tamil Nadu
Krishnagiri (TN), April 24: Almost 18 years after 46 persons were killed after consuming spurious liquor, a court here on April 23 acquitted all the 21 accused in the case for want of evidence.

Hosur Sub Judge P R Ramakrishnan acquitted all the accused citing that the prosecution failed to prove the charges. There were 28 accused in the case of which five persons, who consumed the hooch while selling it, died while two others died during the trial at the Hosur Sub-Court here.

According to the prosecution, 282 persons belonging to nine villages including Soolagiri, Samalpallam, Melmalai, in the district were affected after consuming the hooch on August 25, 1998. 46, including 11 women, died on the spot while the rest were admitted to hospital of which six lost their vision.

The CB-CID, which probed the case, found that a team of distillers and sellers led by one Selvam, who is the sitting AIADMK Panchayat president of Kelappanahalli, and Thandavan, had illegally purchased methyl alcohol which was transported from Bangalore in a tanker to Mettur in Soolagiri, 28 km from Hosur.

The methyl alcohol was used in making the illicit brew. The tanker driver R Suresh of Chennai turned approver in the case. Eighteen police personnel, including a police inspector, were placed under suspension.

The judgement created sorrow among the victims' families in Soolagiri and surrounding areas. The CB-CID planned to go for appeal in higher court, police sources said.


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