Hooch tragedy claims 14 lives in MP; probe on, 4 suspended

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(Eds: Updating toll, number of seriously ill persons) Morena/Bhopal, Jan 12 (PTI) At least 14 people have died and 20 others fallen seriously ill after drinking what is suspected to be spurious liquor in Madhya Pradesh's Morena district, a senior police officer said, in second such incident in the state in the last three months.

As per preliminary reports, some residents of Manpur and Pahawali villages in Morena district consumed a white- coloured liquor on Monday night, the officer said.

Later, people in some other nearby villages also fell ill after consuming suspected spurious liquor, he said.

An investigation in the tragedy has been ordered and four government officials, including policemen, have been suspended.

'Fourteen persons have died and 20 others taken seriously ill after drinking suspected spurious liquor (in Morena district),' Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Rajesh Hingankar told reporters.

This was the second hooch tragedy in Madhya Pradesh in the last three months. In October, 14 people died after drinking spurious liquor in Ujjain.

The DIG said a case has been registered under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections 34 and 91 of the Excise Act.

A few persons have been rounded up for investigation in the case, he said.

The senior police officer from Morena said ten people from Manpur and Pahawali villages died on Monday night.

The four other deaths were reported later, he said.

He said those who fell seriously ill were admitted in Gwalior hospitals for treatment.

A post-mortem report is awaited to ascertain whether the liquor consumed by the victims was poisonous or not, the officer added.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan termed the incident as 'tragic' and ordered suspension of the Morena district excise officer for negligence.

He said stern action will be taken against the guilty.

'The Morena incident is very unfortunate and tragic.

The investigation of the case is going on. The District Excise Officer has been suspended for prima facie negligence.

'As soon as the remaining facts of the investigation come out, whoever is found guilty will not be spared. We will take drastic action,' Chouhan said in a tweet.

In Bhopal, Home Minister Narottam Mishra said a police official has been suspended following the incident.

'The incident of deaths caused by drinking poisonous liquor in Morena is very sad and painful. The in-charge of the police station concerned has been suspended.

'A separate team is also being sent for investigation,' Mishra said in a tweet.

Those responsible for the incident will not be spared, he added.

The DIG informed that two more policemen - a sub- inspector and a head constable - were also suspended in connection with the tragedy.

State Congress president Kamal Nath hit out at the Chouhan-led BJP government over the incident.

He alleged that the chief minister has been making false claims about action against mafias operating in the state.

'Liquor mafia continues to wreak havoc, after killing 16 in Ujjain, now they have killed about 10 people in Morena.

'Shivraj ji, how long will the liquor mafia keep killing people like this? The government should provide proper treatment to the sick and help the affected families in every way possible,' Nath said in a tweet. PTI COR MAS ADU GK NSK RSY RSY