Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday ordered the state police chief to charge those directly involved in the hooch tragedy that claimed the lives of 113 people for murder.
Promising justice for the victims of the case, which he called the biggest tragedy of recent times, the chief minister said he would not tolerate any political interference in the case.
Mr Singh also proposed an increase in the penalty for manufacturing and smuggling fake or poisonous alcohol under the excise law, to ensure that repeat offenders stay behind bars and are not able to get out easily to commit the crime again.
During the cabinet meeting, several ministers accepted Advocate General Atul Nanda’s suggestion that a strict law like the Punjab Control of Organized Crime Act (PCOCA) was needed to fight organized crime such as illicit smuggling of ‘alcohol.
The chief minister asked the sub-committee, established under the leadership of Minister Brahm Mohindra, to review the provisions of the bill, finalize and submit its report as soon as possible.
He agreed with Sukhjinder Randhawa and other ministers that the Punjab Control of Organized Crime Act (PCOCA) could help control hard-core criminals and act as a deterrent to gangsters, who continue to fight organized crime. even from prison, and also have close ties to terrorists, according to a government statement.
The chief minister’s guidance on the hooch tragedy came in two separate video conferences – one from the cabinet meeting and the other from a review meeting of the case with senior police officials and administration.
Amarinder Singh also led his cabinet meeting observing a two minute silence in tribute to the victims of the tragedy. No less than 113 people died in the hooch tragedy with 84, the maximum number of dead, in Tarn Taran, followed by 15 in Amritsar and 14 in Batala.
“End this case, clean up the border areas. It must stop,” the chief minister said in his directive to police and district officials during the review video conference earlier.
The trade in poisonous alcohols, using “lahan” (raw material for making alcohol), has long existed in border areas. But now it had taken on even more dangerous proportions with the new trend in smuggling from neighboring states, the then chief minister said.
Claiming that he wanted “to see an end to this whole fake and illicit alcohol or smuggling business,” Mr. Singh ordered the officials concerned to be extremely strict in their dealings with criminals, whether male or female. women.
Reiterating his government’s zero tolerance policy towards alcohol and illicit and fake drugs, he called on the police to coordinate closely with the excise and other relevant services to eliminate once for all this Punjab threat.
Stressing that the victims of the hooch tragedy were the poorest of the poor, Singh set a 10-day deadline for relevant deputy commissioners and police officers to identify and process cases in order to provide additional targeted assistance to their families. families.
The Chief Minister has already announced Rs 2 lakh free of charge to the families of each of the victims of the tragedy.
Senior police official SPS Parmar said cases had been registered under culpable homicide charges not constituting murder under the IPC and the excise law, and that a coordinated crackdown had been launched in all border areas to identify and catch criminals and initiate strict measures. against them under the law.
He revealed that initially the families of the victims of Tarn Taran, who had suffered the maximum loss of life, hid the dead and cremated the bodies without an autopsy.
Mr Parmar suggested the introduction of a color code for ethanol and other spirits to verify their illegal sale and distribution.