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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hint of hooch tragedy

Patna, Jan. 4: Eight persons are suspected to have died consuming illicit liquor in Patna City within a span of eight hours from midnight yesterday, but the administration refused to accept it was a hooch tragedy.

The deaths were reported from three adjacent localities — Loha Ka Pul, Rampur Kasba and Pratappur — under Mehediganj police station of Patna City. The deceased were aged between 28 and 65 years. Six of them were identified as Munna Chauhan (40), Tulli Ram (28), Rajesh Mahto (35), Manoj Mahto (40), Mahendra Das (65) and Krishna Chauhan (60). “One of the bodies was found beside a temple. There was a liquor pouch and a plastic glass near the body, hinting at hooch tragedy,” a resident of Pratpur said.

Patna City sub-divisional officer (SDO) Raman Kumar Singh, however, refused to confirm that they died consuming spurious liquor.

“We cannot call it a hooch tragedy now. The relatives of most of the deceased said the victims were either ill or undergoing some treatment. Kin of a few deceased said they died of cold. At least six bodies have been cremated. The family members of the rest of the two victims are reluctant to hand over the bodies to the administration for post-mortem. We are trying to convince them,” Singh said.

Additional superintendent of police, Patna City, Chandan Khuswaha said: “We are trying to take the two bodies in our possession so that a post-mortem can be conducted. But the relatives of the victims are unwilling to do so. They claimed that the victims were ill and died naturally. The investigations are on.”

Sources said at least five bodies were cremated in a hurry in small hours of Friday at the Khajekala cremation ground after the kin of the victims were allegedly terrorised by hooch traders.

Patna senior superintendent of police Amrit Raj and district magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh visited the localities later in the day.

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