The Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh Police launched a joint operation and arrested two persons who had sold the spurious liquor to villagers of Ballupur in district Haridwar. The accused have been identified as Fakira and his son Sonu, both residents of Ballupur. The police are looking for three more persons who are said to be the main accused in the case.

Sonu told police that they had bought 35 bottles of country-made liquor from one Sardar Hardev Singh from village Punden in Saharanpur (UP). He sold the liquor to different persons, including 20 bottles to Gajraj of Ballupur. Sonu said that the colour of the liquor was white. When he asked Hardev Singh about the colour, he said that while preparing, the liquor turned black so he used milk to make the colour light.

High politics has started in Uttarakhand over the hooch tragedy in which about two dozen people have lost their lives so far. Uttarakhand Congress staged a protest and burnt the effigy of the state government. Over a dozen persons, receiving treatment at Rishikesh based All India Institute of Medical Sciences, were discharged on Saturday.

Haridwar Police conducted raids at different areas of the district arresting 31 persons and demolished many liquor manufacturing units up till Saturday night. Haridwar Senior Superintendent of Police Janamjay Khanduri said, “We will be conducting the operations regularly.”

The budget session of the Uttarakhand assembly is all set to start in Dehradun from Monday and the main opposition party, Congress, is all very much likely to raise the hooch tragedy incident in the house.

A total of 50 people are presently receiving treatment at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh.

Meanwhile, in Uttar Pradesh, the death toll on the third day reached 62 while over two dozen people are recuperating at hospitals in Saharanpur and Meerut Medical College.

The toll is likely to rise further as the condition of many of the admitted is stated to be critical.

Till Saturday night, 36 people were reported dead from Saharanpur while 23 people were reported dead from Meerut Medical College Hospital. One death each was reported from Bahadre, Kolki and Humayun Kota taking the toll to 62.

So far, cases of deaths have been reported from at least 15 villages of Nangal, Gagalheri and Deoband areas of district Saharanpur. Initially, on Thursday, deaths were reported mostly from Umahi, Sarbatpur, Salempur and Mali but now more villages are reporting hooch related deaths.

Meanwhile, five of the admitted persons, who were being treated at Meerut Medical College Hospital, died on Saturday night. Hospital’s Medical Officer (Casualty) Dr Harshwardhan confirmed the deaths and told that out of the 19 patients in the Medical College Hospital, the condition of two is critical. All possible efforts are being made by the medical staff to save their lives.

So far 17 persons have lost their lives at Meerut Medical College Hospital. According to Dr Harshwardhan, seven people were already dead when they were brought to the hospital.

DM Saharanpur, Alok Kumar Pandey, and SSP, Dinesh Kumar, while briefing the media on Saturday evening, informed that 56 post-mortems were conducted in Saharanpur out of which 36 deaths were confirmed due to the spurious liquor. The viscera of the remaining 20 dead bodies have been kept for further tests to confirm the cause of their deaths.

The Bheem Army chief and Congress leader Imran Masood’s son visited the families of the dead and the sick.

Masood’s son said that the families of victims have accused the administration of adopting a negligent attitude in providing treatment to the sick. “Officials were busy in their operations against bootleggers to please the chief minister and seem least concerned about the dying villagers,” he said.

Meanwhile, angry family members and residents of village Kolki in Gagalheri blocked the roads to protest against the alleged negligent attitude of the officials.