Patna: At least five people died and four others were taken ill after consuming suspected spurious liquor in Rohtas district, around 140km southwest of Patna, late on Friday.
The district administration, however, confirmed only four deaths.
Tragedy struck Dhanwar village under the jurisdiction of Kachhwa police station in Rohtas district around 8pm. People allegedly consumed alcohol at a feast at the village, around 60km north of the district headquarters town, on Friday night. Those affected complained of vomiting, nausea, headache and stomach pain. Two persons died at the Jamuhar Medical College and Hospital and two more at a private nursing home in Ara in neighbouring Bhojpur district. Two others were undergoing treatment at the local hospital where the condition of one is said to be critical. Dhanwar village borders the Bhojpur district headquarters.
Rohtas district magistrate Animesh Kumar Parashar, who visited the spot with superintendent of police (SP) Manavjeet Singh Dhillon on Friday morning, told reporters that four persons had died and another fell ill after consuming liquor. The forensic team collected samples from the spot and sent them to the forensic science laboratory in Patna.
The dead have been identified as Uday Singh, 35, Dhanji Kumar Singh, 26, Kamlesh Singh, 35 and Harihar Singh, 50, all residents of Dhanwar village. Another person, Narendra Singh, is said to have died at Englishpur village, about 1.5km east of Dhanwar. Four others – Ravi Niwas Singh, Ashok Pandit, Nanhak Thakur and Rajendra Singh – were undergoing treatment at Jamuhar in Rohtas district and Ara in Bhojpur district. The condition of Ram Niwas was said to be critical.
Uday, who died in Jamuhar hospital, had told his family he consumed liquor with seven others after purchasing it from a grocery shop owned by Shashi Kumar. The local administration sealed another grocery shop, belonging to Antim Lal, for selling liquor. Two members of Antim’s family have been detained for interrogation.
This is the second suspected hooch death after the state came under total prohibition in April last year. The first incident was reported from Gopalganj where 16 people died in August last year. The state government had directed senior police and excise officials to enforce prohibition more effectively after the Gopalganj incident.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar has ordered a detailed investigation. Inspector-general of Patna zone Nayyar Hasnain Khan was directed to make an on-the-spot investigation and submit a detailed report to the police headquarters. IG Khan said disciplinary action was initiated against 12 police personnel. Kachhwa SHO Mukesh Kumar has been suspended and show-cause notices served on others.
Bikramganj sub-divisional police officer Neeraj Kumar and circle inspector Anil Singh. The IG has directed the police chiefs of Rohtas, Aurangabad and Bhojpur districts to launch special drives against the liquor mafia. The suspended policemen include SHO Mukesh Kumar, sub-inspector B.K. Ram, assistant sub-inspectors D.K. Paswan, Ram Avtar Ram, P.K. Jha, Rambabu Ram, constable Vinod Kumar and chowkidar Sudama Singh.
Earlier, Nitish had ordered action against excise officials in the region for their lapses. Deputy inspector-general of Shahabad range, Mohammad Rahman, has been asked to camp at the village. Agitated residents blocked the Dhanwar-Nasariganj road and paralysed traffic for over three hours. They demanded action against police officers for their links with those involved in illegal liquor supply.
IG Khan said two persons, bootleggers, have been arrested and 25 liquor bottles seized from the village during a raid. Investigating officers would try to ascertain from where they got ethanol, used to brew country liquor.
Sources said the stretch along the Sone river has become a safe haven for brewing liquor. Earlier, Dhanji Singh, a dreaded gangster, was killed in a turf war for the liquor trade.