Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said he will not tolerate any political interference in the hooch tragedy case and directed the Director-General of Police (DGP) to book those directly involved for murder under Section 302 of IPC.
Promising justice for the victims of the case, which he termed as the biggest tragedy of recent times, the CM also mooted enhancement of punishment for spurious liquor manufacturing and smuggling under the Excise Act, to ensure that the repeat offenders remain behind the bars and are not able to come out easily to indulge again in the crime.
As several ministers agreed, during a Cabinet meeting, to the suggestion of Advocate General Atul Nanda that a strict law like Punjab Control of Organised Crime Act, (PCOCA) was needed to combat organised crime like illicit liquor smuggling, the CM asked the Sub-Committee, that was set up under Brahm Mohindra to examine the provisions of the proposed law, to finalise and submit its report at the earliest.
The CM’s directives on the hooch tragedy, which has claimed 113 lives so far, came during two separate video conferences – one of the cabinet meeting and the other a review meeting of the case with top police and administrative officials.
Amarinder also led his council of ministers in observing a two-minute silence as a mark of homage to the victims of the tragedy. “Finish off this business, clean up the border areas,” was Amarinder’s strict directive to police and district officials during the review VC earlier, which was attended by DGP Dinkar Gupta and chief secretary Vini Mahajan, along with senior officers of the affected districts of Tarn Taran, Amritsar Rural and Gurdaspur.
“This has to stop,” he said, adding that the illicit liquor business had been going on in border areas for a long time but now it had assumed an even more dangerous proportion with the new trend of smuggling from neighbouring states.
Asserting that he wanted “to see an end to this whole business of spurious and illicit liquor,” the CM directed the concerned officials to be extremely strict in dealing with the criminals, whether men or women.
Reiterating his government’s zero-tolerance policy to spurious liquor and drugs, he asked the police to coordinate closely with the Excise and other concerned departments to wipe this menace out of Punjab once and for all.
Pointing out that the victims were the poorest of the poor, Amarinder set a 10-day deadline for the concerned DCs and police officers to identify and process cases to provide targeted additional relief for their families.