With death toll in Mumbai’s worst hooch tragedy crossing 100 and many still battling for their lives at various hospitals, the tragedy has prompted opposition Congress to mount an attack on BJP-led Devendra Fadnavis government.
On Monday, the toll in Mumbai’s worst hooch tragedy rose to 102 with the death of five more victims who consumed spurious liquor in Malad area and another 46 were in hospitals with eight of them struggling to survive serious ill-effects of the killer brew.
Asking chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to step down owning moral responsibility, the opposition also demanded a CBI inquiry into the hooch network.
While seven persons have been arrested so far in the case, the alleged mastermind of the bootlegging network was nabbed in Delhi on Tuesday, June 23, TV reports said. Already, eight police and four excise officials have been suspended.
Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said, “Excise Minister should take responsibility of this tragedy and quit. Since the Home Department is with the Chief Minister he should also resign.”
Lamenting that the state does not have a full-fledged Home Minister, he said when the death toll is increasing on hourly basis the Chief Minister was busy doing Yoga.
“Since the onus for the death of over 100 people lay at the Chief Minister’s door step, he should resign,” he said.
He said when a similar tragedy happened in Vikhroli in 2004, claming over 87 lives, the then Congress-NCP Government had suspended the local DCP and raided and shut illegal distilleries across Mumbai.
According to The Hindu , since 2001, illicit hooch has killed over 700 people across India in 18 recorded incidents. The biggest such tragedy, which killed 180 people in May 2008, was in Karnataka. Then, 170 people were killed in West Bengal in December 2011.
Rattled by the tragedy that occurred at the Laxmi Nagar slum in suburban Malwani on Wednesday night, Excise Minister Eknath Khadse said the Government would bring in a harsher law to deal with the menace with provisions to ensure that those arrested for distilling and selling illicit liquor would not get bail at least for one year after their arrest.
“Since January this year, 117 raids have been conducted in Malad and nearby areas in suburban Mumbai. Several people have been arrested. But, they have been let off on bail of Rs 2,000. The need of the hour is to make stringent laws,” he said.
Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who visited the kin of the victims, demanded resignation of Khadse. “The loss of lives is also due to the negligence of the Shatabdi Hospital run by the municipal corporation,” and wanted the hospital authorities and health officer of the ward be booked for homicide.
Meanwhile, Excise Minister Eknath Khadse on Tuesday, June 23 said that Maharashtra Chief Secretary will head a probe into the worst-ever hooch tragedy in Mumbai. “The government has ordered a probe under the Chief Secretary to enquire into the deaths caused in the unfortunate Malwani hooch tragedy,” Excise Minister Eknath Khadse told reporters after a meeting of the state Cabinet.