Gujarat sets up panel to probe hooch deaths in Surat

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Surat, Sep 10 (IANS) A three-member committee has been set up to inquire into the hooch tragedy at a village near Surat that saw 18 persons lose their life in separate incidents over the last one week, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said on Saturday.

“We have appointed a high-level panel to probe in to the matter that prima facie appears to have happened due to consumption of spurious liquor. The team would visit the place of incident and along with forensic report, it will provide state government a complete pictureof the real situation,” he said.

“We will not spare anyone found involved in this,” he added.

The three-member panel, headed by Additional Director General of Police (Law & Order) V.M. Parigi, and comprising Prohibition & Excise Department Director B.K. Kumar, and Forensic Science Laboratory Director M.S. Dahiya, have been asked to submit their report on the Vareli incident in three days.

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Rupani’s intervention followed the pressure on the state administration from the locals about the incidents in Vareli village since September 4.

There were allegations that the officials were delaying action and were refusing to acknowledge that the deaths were indeed by consuming hooch. With prohibition in place, the local administration and police find it difficult to explain availability of spurious liquor.

“Prima facie all the post mortem reports suggest presence of methanol. We have sent all the reports to Forensic Science Laboratory. Once we receive FSL report we would be able to establish the exact cause of death,” said Surat’s in-charge Collector K. Rajesh.

Chief District Health Officer, Megha Mehta, too was cautious in her diagnosis. “Many of the patients brought in showed symptoms of vomiting and severe breathlessness, with their pulse rate falling drastically.

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“Though the victims showed symptoms of having consumed spurious liquor, we wanted to be sure about whether there was some kind of a new virus and so have sent samples to forensic laboratory for confirmation,” she said. The blood samples of the victims have also been sent for tests to National Institute of Virology, Pune.



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