Updated: August 1, 2020 4:48:18 pm
The death toll in the Punjab hooch case rose to 64 on Saturday, with 42 of the casualties reported at Tarn Taran alone, officials said.
Till Friday night, the district had reported 19 deaths. Apart from Tarn Taran, authorities have confirmed 11 casualties in Amritsar and nine in Gurdaspur’s Batala since Wednesday night.
A senior police officer told news agency PTI that families of several victims were not coming forward to record their statements, and were “refusing to accept” that spurious liquor had killed their kin. Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Ishfaq was quoted by PTI as saying: “The wards of some of those who died are not accepting that they died because of hooch. They are saying their family member had a heart attack.”
Tarn Taran DC Kulwant Singh said some families had even cremated the bodies without informing the police.
On Friday afternoon, a Punjab government press note said that dead in these cases will not be cremated without a post-mortem.
So far, around 10 people have been arrested in the case, said the police, including seven bootleggers from Amritsar, Batala and Tarn Taran in over 40 raids conducted by five teams on Friday.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident.
The Divisional Commissioner, Jalandhar, will conduct the inquiry, along with Joint Excise & Taxation Commissioner Punjab, and SPs (Investigation) of the districts concerned, according to a state government spokesperson.
According to the police, the first five fatalities were reported from Mucchal and Tangra villages in Amritsar on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday. On Thursday evening, two more people died under suspicious circumstances in Muchhal, and one person died at Sri Guru Ram Das Hospital in Amritsar after being shifted from Tangra. Batala too had reported two fatalities linked to consumption of illicit liquor on Thursday.
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