Launching a massive crackdown in the hooch tragedy, the Punjab Police on Saturday arrested 17 more people as it conducted over 100 raids in the three affected districts of Amritsar Rural, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran, along with several other places in and around Rajpura and Shambhu border. The total number of arrests in the case has gone up to 25.
So far 86 people have lost their lives in the tragedy. Tarn Taran accounts for 63 deaths, followed by Amritsar Rural at 12 and Gurdaspur (Batala) at 11, the state government has said.
Seven excise officials and six cops have been suspended in connection with the case and an inquiry has been launched against them.
The action has been taken on the orders of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh against seven Excise & Taxation officers & Inspectors along with two DSPs and SHOs.
Singh has also announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 2 lakh to each of the kin of the deceased, most of whom are from Tarn Taran.
Among the arrested accused are a mafia mastermind, a woman kingpin, a transport owner, a wanted criminal and owners/managers of various dhabas from where the illicit liquor was being supplied, Punjab Police DGP Dinkar Gupta informed.
The raids exposed a massive racked in illicit liquor and large quantities of Lahan was seized from various villages and dhabas in the region around Shambhu border, Rajpura and Patiala, he added. At least 750 litres of Lahan had been seized from village Baghaura from where two persons, Satnam and Rashem, had been arrested while another, identified as Lakhwinder, had been identified as a culprit.
In the raid at Jhilmil Dhaba, 200 litres of Lahan was seized. The dhaba owner Harjit Singh has been named in the FIR while its manager Narinder Singh has been arrested.
Another 150 litres was seized from one Parminder Singh and 200 litres from Baljit Singh. Both these men have also been arrested.