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Hooch deaths: Capt talks tough, says guilty will not be spared

Asserting that he will finish the liquor mafia in the state, chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said that no one, whether a politician or a public servant, will be spared if found complicit in the hooch deaths.

Amarinder said nobody will be allowed to get away with killing people with liquor. “I have put the entire force of the Punjab Police to crack down on the mafia. Some unscrupulous elements took advantage of the police focus on the pandemic to satiate their greed at the cost of the lives of Punjabis,” he said in a statement, terming the deaths due to spurious liquor as “sheer murder”.

Accusing the opposition of exploiting the tragedy for their “petty political interests”, the chief minister said this is not the time to play politics but to stand by the government in its efforts to eliminate the mafia. He flayed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over its dharnas against the hooch tragedy, and asked how this would help in battling the mafia or supporting the bereaved families.

The chief minister said that such tragedies have been taking place through the years across states, under different political dispensations. “Mafias and criminals do not have any political affiliation, their only interest is to earn money by hook or by crook,” he said, noting that 2019 had seen three hooch tragedies, all in the BJP-ruled states of Assam, UP and Uttarakhand, where 168, 97 and 30 people lost their lives, respectively. In 2016, 16 people had died in Janata Dal-ruled Bihar while in 2015, BJP-led Maharashtra had lost 102 lives to hooch in Mumbai and under the Trinamool Congress rule in West Bengal, as many as 167 people had died due to consumption of spurious liquor, he added, listing similar tragedies in other states.

He urged the opposition parties to stop playing politics over the lives of innocent Punjabis. People do not care which party is ruling the state and all they want is justice, he said, adding that Punjab had also witnessed similar tragedies under the SAD-BJP regime.

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