Aligarh hooch tragedy: Oppn alleges admn hiding facts, actual death toll 'much higher'

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Aligarh, May 31 (PTI) Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh on Monday alleged discrepancies in the official death toll in the Aligarh hooch tragedy and that last rites of many victims had been conducted without a post-mortem examination.

Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Zamirullah Khan produced before the media the families of 12 people who he claimed died over the past three days after consuming spurious liquor and whose last rites were conducted 'under pressure without a post-mortem examination'.

Leaders of the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) and the Congress claimed that there are several such cases and that the local administration was 'hiding facts'.

The toll in the hooch tragedy climbed to 36 on Monday with 11 more deaths being confirmed by the district authorities.

However, the number of deaths may rise as viscera reports of 35 others who are suspected to have died after consuming the spurious liquor are awaited. The cause of death will be confirmed by the viscera reports, according to officials.

SP leader Khan produced before the media the families of 12 people who allegedly died over the past three days after consuming the spurious liquor and 'whose last rites were conducted under pressure without a post-mortem examination'.

He demanded that compensation be given to all such families.

In one case, Khan claimed, a woman whose husband was among the hooch tragedy victims who were cremated without a post-mortem examination had been running from pillar to post with her four-day-old child to seek compensation.

'Can such victims be denied ex-gratia relief on vague technical grounds?' he asked.

The former Aligarh MLA further claimed that there were similar cases in several other villages and they should be investigated immediately in order to prevent further agony for the bereaved families.

President of the Bahujan Samaj Party's Aligarh unit Ratandeep Singh said he had also written to the district magistrate regarding the 12 cases from Lodha, Rait and Sujaapur villages in which the alleged hooch tragedy victims' last rites were conducted 'without a post-mortem examination'.

He claimed there were several such cases that can only be traced by conducting a detailed survey of the affected villages.

Congress leader Pradeep Mathur alleged that the actual death toll was 'much higher' than what the administration data showed.

'We visited three villages from where deaths were reported. The local administration is hiding the facts and the number of deaths is much higher. We demand that Rs 5 lakh and a house in the village be given to the kin of the deceased. The district magistrate should be transferred immediately as he is hiding data,' he said.

Mathur also accused the state government of 'patronising' the liquor mafia.

As of Sunday, 11 of the 12 people, including kingpin Anil Chaudhary, booked in connection with the hooch tragedy had been arrested, according to police.

Raids are being carried out across the district to seize illegal liquor. The district authorities have been sending teams to villages to urge people not to consume liquor bought a week ago. PTI CORR NAV DIV DIV

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