Gopalganj: More than 550 litres of country liquor, which was buried under the earth, was recovered during a search operation launched in Khajurwani ward of Gopalganj town where 16 persons died in a suspected hooch incident early this week.
Search operation in which JCB machines are being used to dig the earth for hidden plastic containers of "mahua" (country liquor) is continuing on Saturday, District Magistrate Rahul Kumar told PTI.
Meanwhile, Lalbabu Passi, said to be the main accused in the suspected hooch tragedy has been arrested by Deoria in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, Officer In-charge of town police station Santosh Kumar said.
Passi had fled to Deoria after the incident.
The Gopalganj DM said he has sought proposal from the Excise department for imposition of "collective fine" on residents of Khajurwani ward where as media reports suggest liquor trade continues despite total prohibition.
The DM said there are 56 households in the Khajurwani and the Excise department has been directed to survey households involved in preparation of country liquor so that a collective fine could be imposed on them as per provisions of new Liquor law, 2016 of Bihar.
Principal Secretary Excise KK Pathak who paid a visit to Gopalganj in the wake of the incident has said that if hooch is confirmed, the property of the culprits would be attached as part of stringent provisions of the new Liquor law.
The Gopalganj DM discounted soaring figures presented by media in Wednesday's tragedy and said officially the death toll stood at 16.
Meanwhile, Madhepura MP and chief of Janadhikar Party Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav slammed Nitish Kumar government over Gopalganj tragedy before leaving for the place to meet the families of the victims.
Talking to reporters in Patna, Pappu Yadav described the new Excise law as a "black law" and said within two weeks he would file a writ in the Supreme Court against it.