Uttarakhand: Candidate distributes hooch ahead of panchayat poll, six dead


At least six people have died in the last three days after allegedly consuming liquor distributed by a panchayat election candidate in Haridwar district Friday.

Pradhan candidate for Phoolgarh village, Babli, got liquor distributed in the village, police said.

They arrested her husband Sunday and booked him for murder. Police are still searching for Babli and her brother Naresh.

According to senior police officials, at least six people have died so far after consuming the liquor. While residents claim the toll is eight, officials said two of them died due to other reasons.

Four police personnel and nine excise department officials have been suspended for negligence.

“As per our report, six hooch-related deaths have been reported in the area. Out of this, one person died on Friday, four on Saturday, and another person on Sunday. Two more deaths have been reported in the concerned villages but we cannot confirm if these are liquor-related deaths because one person died several days ago and another was involved in a fight for which a murder FIR is already registered. We are waiting for the post-mortem report to confirm the cause of death. Of these six hooch deaths, four are from Phoolgarh village and two from Shivgarh village,” said Haridwar SP (Rural) Parmendra Singh Dobhal.

“We have arrested one Vijendra Kumar, who is the husband of pradhan candidate Babli. We have found that those deceased consumed the liquor at their house. The liquor was distributed in wake of the upcoming Panchayat elections. The candidate distributed liquor on the last day of nomination. We have booked the husband under section 302 (murder) of the IPC. Along with this, four police personnel have been suspended. Those suspended include Pathri SO Ravindra Kumar and 3 constables,” he said. A statement issued by the Haridwar police said they have seized 35 litres of illegal raw liquor from Vijendra.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said action will be taken against those found responsible, and directed the excise department to make sure such incidents are not repeated. Excise Commissioner Hari Chandra Semwal has issued an order to suspend nine excise officials.

The order issued by the Excise Commissioner stated “A preliminary report by the Additional Excise Commissioner confirmed that those deceased had consumed the liquor. The report found serious negligence on behalf of the (excise) staff… Therefore, nine officials are suspended with immediate effect and are attached to the Dehradun office,” the order read.

The panchayat elections in Haridwar will be held on September 26. Haridwar is the only district in the state where elections to three-tier panchayats are not held along with other districts. This sequence has been maintained since the formation of the state. Here panchayats are formed a year after other districts.





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