MP hooch tragedy:Toll reaches 20, Morena collector, SP removed

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(Eds: Adding details on formation of a probe panel) Bhopal/Morena, Jan 13 (PTI) With the death of six more persons, the toll in the hooch tragedy in Madhya Pradesh's Morena district has risen to 20, prompting Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to order the removal of the district collector and superintendent of police and to form a high-level probe committee.

A senior police officer said 21 people are currently undergoing treatment in Morena and Gwalior.

A medical officer said that initial autopsy report revealed the cause of the death as consumption of excess liquor which damaged vital body organs of the deceased.

'The death toll (in the Morena spurious liquor incident) stands 20 now as six more people have died. Besides, 21 other people are undergoing treatment in Morena and Gwalior,' Deputy Inspector General, Chambal range, Rajesh Hingankar told PTI.

Taking serious cognisance of the incident, the chief minister ordered the removal of Morena collector and the SP, after holding a review meeting on the situation on Wednesday, another official said.

A three-member committee, to be headed by Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajesh Rajora, has been constituted to probe the incident from various angles.

'Additional Director General of Police (CID) A Sai Manohar, and Deputy Inspector General Mithilesh Shukla are two other members of the panel,' Rajora said.

As per preliminary reports, some residents of Manpur and Pahawali villages in Morena district consumed a white-coloured liquor on Monday night. Later, people in some other nearby villages also fell ill after consuming suspected spurious liquor, police had said.

Police have registered a case against seven people in connection with the incident on the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and under the Excise Act, and declared a reward of Rs 10,000 each for their arrest, an official said.

'An initial autopsy report revealed the cause of death as consumption of excess liquor which damaged vital body parts. The viscera have been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory in Sagar for examination,' Morena's in-charge Chief Medical and Health Officer Dr R C Bandil said.

The forensic science lab's report will reveal the exact nature of poison in the liquor, he said.

CM Chouhan told the high-level meeting held at his residence in Bhopal that the collector and SP would be held directly responsible in such matters, a Public Relations department official said.

The CM said he will not remain a 'mute spectator' to such incidents.

'It is a painful and very inhuman incident. A campaign should be launched against illegal liquor sale in the state,' the official quoted Chouhan as saying.

State Home Minister Narottam Mishra, Chief Secretary I S Bains, DGP V K Jouhri, Additional Chief Secretary Rajesh Rajora were among those present in the review meeting. PTI CORR MAS ADU GK NSK NSK