In a major crackdown as spurious liquor claimed 86 lives in three districts of Punjab, police on Saturday arrested 17 more people in over 100 raids from parts of the state, officials said.
On Friday, police had nabbed eight people after deaths were reported due to the consumption of spurious liquor in Amritsar, Gurdaspur’s Batala and Tarn Taran.
So far, 25 arrests have been made in the case, the officials added.
According to them, 63 people have died in Tarn Taran, 12 in Amritsar and 11 in Batala after drinking spurious liquor.
According to an official statement, the CM ordered the suspension of seven excise officials, along with six policemen. Among the suspended officials are two deputy superintendents of police and four station house officers.
The tragedy has been unfolding since Wednesday evening in the three Punjab districts.
An excise official said though reports of the chemical analysis of the material seized in police raids are yet to arrive, a superficial check showed that the material was denatured spirit, generally used in the paint or hardware industry.
Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta in a statement said the raiding parties seized large quantities of 'lahan' (raw material for making liquor) from various villages and 'dhabas' in the region around the Shambhu border, Rajpura and Patiala.
The raids have exposed a massive liquor racket, extending across several districts, he said, adding that several dhabas at Shambhu, Banur and Rajpura of Patiala have been sealed.
Meanwhile, the Batala police arrested Darshan Rani, alias Faujan, a key accused in the case.
Another accused, Beeri of Deo village, was arrested by the Tarn Taran Sadar police for supplying spurious alcohol, the DGP said.
Prem Singh, owner of Azad Transport, and Bhinda (wanted by the Tarn Taran police) were arrested by the Rajpura police in raids conducted on Saturday.
Meanwhile, police arrested a dhaba manager after recovering 200 litres of “lahan”. Dhaba owner Harjit Singh has also been named in the FIR, police said.
At Green Dhaba on the Rajpura-Chandigarh road in Zirakpur, about 200 litres of diesel-like liquid was recovered. The dhaba has been sealed and its owner Gurjant Singh has been arrested.
One Narinder Singh, owner of Multani Dhaba, has also been arrested in the case, said the DGP.
One of the key arrested accused who was bringing spurious liquor from Tarn Taran to Amritsar has been identified as Govinderbir Singh, alias Gobinda, of Jandiala City.
He was the main mastermind in Amritsar district, said police.
Describing the modus operandi of the accused, the DGP said the trucks carrying spirit would be stopped at six to seven identified dhabas and their owners collected hooch from the drivers and sold it to one Bhinda of Rajpura, who was also an accused in a Rajpura illegal liquor factory case.
Bhinda and Bittu of a village near Patiala's Banur were supplying liquor to Amritsar and surrounding areas.
Raids are continuing with the Patiala SSP camping at Rajpura for supervision, the DGP said, adding that efforts were on to smash the supply chain of spurious alcohol.