Twenty-one people have died in Punjab’s three districts — Amritsar, Batala and Tarn Taran — allegedly after drinking spurious liquor.

The deaths have taken place in Punjab’s Amritsar, Batala and Tarn Taran districts since Wednesday night, Punjab Chief Minister’s Office informed.

In view of more deaths being reported, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has ordered a magisterial inquiry by Divisional Commissioner Jalandhar into the matter.

Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta said the first five fatalities were reported from Mucchal and Tangra villages in Amritsar’s Tarsikka on July 29 night.

On July 30 evening, two more persons died in suspicious circumstances in Muchhal, while one person was hospitalised in a critical condition but later succumbed at Sri Guru Ramdas Hospital, from where he was referred by Dr Sarabjit Kaur Hospital in Tangra.

Later, two more deaths were from reported from Mucchal, while another two persons reportedly died in Batala city, also due to spurious liquor consumption.

Five more deaths were reported on Friday in Batala. One person was admitted in hospital in a critical condition.

Four more deaths have been reported from Tarn Taran.

The inquiry panel will look into the facts and circumstances leading to the tragedy as well as into any other connected issue(s) or relevant to the incident(s) and the circumstances leading to it, an official statement said.

The Divisional Commissioner of Jalandhar will inquire into the tragedy along with the Joint Excise and Taxation Commissioner and SPs (Investigation) of the districts concerned, an official spokesperson was quoted as saying by IANS.

The Chief Minister has given Commission the liberty to co-opt any civil or police officer or any expert to facilitate the expeditious conduct of the inquiry.

He has also promised strict action against anyone found guilty in the case.

Taking serious note of the deaths, Amarinder Singh also directed the police to launch a search operation to crack down on spurious liquor manufacturing units operating in the state.

The Punjab Police has arrested Balwinder Kaur in Tarsikka village in Amritsar district with regard to the Hooch tragedy.

Further investigations are in progress under the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by SSP Amritsar-Rural, from where the first cases were reported.

The post-mortems of four victims — Jaswinder Singh, Kashmir Singh, Kirpal Singh and Jaswant Singh — will be conducted to ascertain the exact cause of the deaths.