Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh
CHANDIGARH: Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Friday met families of the hooch tragedy victims in Tarn Taran district and said it was not an accident but “murder”, for which the culprits will be given strict punishment.
The chief minister said properties of those responsible for the “unpardonable act” will also be confiscated.
Singh said the death toll in the tragedy has risen to 121 with eight more people succumbing to spurious liquor in Tarn Taran, taking the fatality count in the district to 92, while 15 have died in Amritsar and 14 in Gurdaspur.
“No one involved will be spared. Whoever is involved will be given strict punishment as per law,” he said while addressing families of the victims.
The chief minister, who was accompanied by state Congress president Sunil Jakhar, announced an increase in the compensation from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased. He announced a relief of Rs 5 lakh to those who survived the tragedy, but lost their eyesight.
Singh also assessed the action taken in the case so far.
Addressing the families, Singh said the hooch tragedy was “man-made”.
“This is not an accident, but murder. Because when someone makes such a thing (illicit liquor), he knows well that it can be fatal and people will die. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, he is a murderer,” Singh said.
“Those who have made this and who know people will die should be tried for murder. Those who do such things should be behind bars” he said, adding that many families have lost their sole breadwinner in the tragedy.
“It’s hard to believe how people can even think of making such things (illicit liquor) and not even have fear of God,” he said.
Handing over a cheque of Rs 2.92 crore for 92 victim families of Tarn Taran to the deputy commissioner, Amarinder Singh said anyone responsible, however affluent he might be, will not be spared at any cost.
The chief minister said the investigation into the case is already underway and Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta has been directed to expedite it.
The chief minister said to ensure that the culprits get exemplary punishment, special prosecution teams will be deputed to vigorously pursue these cases.
He reiterated his government’s commitment to stand by the victim families in this hour of grief by providing jobs, education and other social security benefits to them.
Earlier, Singh told reporters that the opposition parties were playing politics over the tragedy.
“Politics is being played even when investigations have just started,” he said when asked about the Opposition taking names of some members from the ruling Congress in connection with the tragedy.
Earlier in his address, Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar hit out at the SAD-BJP alliance for allegedly nurturing the liquor mafia “which ultimately led to the tragedy of such a magnitude”.
Jakhar said the tragedy was an outcome of criminal negligence and merits exemplary punishment to the perpetrators of this crime.