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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Murder case for liquor tragedy

The 12 accused in the Patna City hooch tragedy have been charged with murder amid whiff of a nexus between the illegal liquor traders and local policemen.

Additional superintendent of police (Patna City) Chandan Kushwaha said two of the three named accused — Sunita Devi and her son Pappu Pandit — have already been arrested and raids were on to pick up Mahendra Pandit, the main culprit behind the death of 12 people. Two persons — Ram Babu Kewat (65) and Raj Kumar Das (35) — are also suspected to have died after consuming illegal liquor on Sunday.

All the 12 accused have been booked under Sections 302 (culpable homicide), 328 (causing hurt by means of poison), 120 (B) (conspiracy) and 34 (acts done by several persons with common intention) of the IPC, ASP Kushwaha said. A separate FIR has been lodged with Khajekalan police station against unidentified persons.

He added that Mehadiganj station house officer Sujay Kumar had been suspended for dereliction of duty and asked to report to the district control room.

Vinay Kumar, a sub-inspector posted at Shastrinagar police station, has replaced Sujay.Balram Choudhary, the local councillor of ward No. 60 of Patna City, hinted at a nexus between the police and illegal liquor traders. “Liquor pouches were sold in grocery stores even after complaining against it to senior administrative and police officers,” said Choudhary. The liquor suppliers had formed “chalant dasta” (mobile squads) to provide country liquor pouches at unauthorised shops on a regular basis. The mobile squads supplied the consignment on the basis of the demand of country liquor by a particular agent or dealer.

Local residents alleged that the sale of illicit liquor was rampant in the Beghumpur, Gariari Lane, Mathani Tal and Malsalami areas.