Death toll in the hooch tragedy rose to 17 as twenty-five policemen were suspended and six people arrested in Bihar's Gopalganj district. The police have registered FIR against 14 people.
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The district administration on Thursday said that the deaths may been due to consumption of either hooch or spurious substance mixed in some drink, as it mulled sending viscera and blood samples of the deceased for forensic test.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed grave concern over the Gopalganj tragedy, the first major incident after Bihar was declared a complete dry state on 5 April. He told reporters that the incident was serious and expressed confidence that truth would come out in the forensic test of viscera and blood samples of deceased.
Gopalganj District Magistrate Rahul Kumar said post-mortem report of the deceased indicated death due to either consumption of hooch or some spurious substance mixed in some drink.
"The district administration would approach court to seek its permission to hand over viscera and blood sample of deceased for forensic test," Superintendent of Police Raviranjan Kumar said.
Nitish Kumar appealed to the kin of the deceased not to be scared and speak the truth so that the culprits behind the incident could be caught and severely punished. He said if the deaths are due to hooch, compensation of Rs 4 lakh each would be given to the family members of the victims.
He said Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh and state police chief PK Thakur were keeping a close watch over the Gopalganj incident and there was no chance of culprits escaping from the law.
The chief minister said total prohibition in Bihar since April has taken shape of a social change under which some such unpleasant events would crop up which would be dealt with sternly.
The SP said that during search operations in Khajurbanni locality, 45 gallons of 'mahua' (country liquor) hidden inside the earth have been recovered.
In addition, 25 empty bottles of a homeopathic medicine Dhuja which has alcoholic contents have been also found from the place of incident, the SP added.
The DM said that initially 13 people had died but later two more succumbed at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) in Patna where four more are under treatment.
The Gopalganj incident has provided opportunity to opposition BJP and its NDA partners to attack the Nitish government.
With inputs from agencies