Amarinder faces opposition heat, resignation demand as hooch tragedy death toll crosses 60

File image of Punjab CM Amarinder Singh | Photo: @capt_amarinder | Twitter
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh | Photo: @capt_amarinder | Twitter

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Chandigarh: The opposition Akali Dal in Punjab Saturday claimed that the illicit liquor industry, being allegedly run with Congress patronage, is causing an annual loss of Rs 5,600 crore to the state excise department. This even as 27 more deaths due to illicit liquor consumption were reported on the day, taking the toll up to 65.

The deaths, occurring in less than a week, have seen the issue snowballing into a political controversy with the opposition targeting Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for not cracking down on the illicit liquor trade.

So far, the deaths have occurred in three districts of the state — 12 in Amritsar rural, 11 in Batala and 42 in Tarn Taran.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal Saturday said CM Amarinder was heading a “murderous” government. “The CM should step down, taking moral responsibility for this gruesome carnage,” said Badal, who visited the families of the deceased and victims at the civil hospital Tarn Taran.

“The hooch tragedy is the direct and natural consequence of the patronage given to Congress leaders, including ministers and MLAs, for freely carrying out rampant illicit liquor trade in the state. It is murder, pure and simple. All the guilty, including ministers and ruling party MLAs, (should) be arrested,” he demanded.

The former deputy CM rejected the magisterial probe ordered by Amarinder Singh and demanded an independent probe by a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Amarinder has been facing flak ever since a huge manufacturing unit for illicit liquor was discovered in his Patiala constituency in May. The opposition alleged the CM was shielding the accused after it was found that the factory was run by two close aides of senior Congress leaders. In the month before, another factory was discovered in Khanna and was allegedly being run by a Congress worker.

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