Hooch deaths: Khonra Badsha gets life term
Noor Islam Fakir a.k.a. Khonra Badsha, the main accused in the 2011 Sangrampur hooch tragedy that claimed 172 lives and blinded many others, received a life sentence from the additional district and sessions judges’ court in Alipore on Monday.
He will serve his sentence till death, the court ordered.
The Sangrampur hooch tragedy occurred on December 14, 2011, after which the state government had handed over the probe to the CID.
On Saturday, additional district judge Pushpal Satpathi had held Fakir guilty of “poisoning people”.
The court acquitted seven other accused, including Fakir’s wife Shakila Biwi, because of inadequate evidence. Fakir’s lawyers, however, said they would challenge the verdict in high court.
Fakir, who is physically challenged, ran the hooch racket at Mograhat and nearby areas in South 24-Parganas allegedly using political clout during the Left Front era.
The CID in its charge sheet stated the hooch that killed 172 people was adulterated with methyl alcohol and other chemicals to make the drink more potent.
Most victims were daily workers, rickshaw-pullers, and hawkers. Post-mortem indicated respiratory and cardiac failure from methyl poisoning.
Fakir had surrendered before the police and remained under judicial custody since January 2012.
The district court in 2018 had convicted him with a life sentence in connection with another case in Usti police station area. The court on Monday said both sentences will run concurrently.
Fakir’s lawyer Rampada Jana said: “The court ignored my client’s submission as he was not directly associated with the trade. We will move Calcutta High Court challenging the sentence.”Abu Bakkar Dhali, another defence lawyer, said the police “failed to produce any convincing evidence against Fakir”.
Family members of the victims welcomed the verdict. Manjila Bewa, who lost her husband Jahangir in the tragedy, said: “Hope Fakir feels the pain that we have been feeling for long. We would have been happier had the court awarded him a death sentence.”