Chandigarh, August 4Asserting that he will finish the liquor mafia in the state, Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, on Tuesday said no one, whether a politician or a public servant, will be spared if found complicit in the hooch deaths.

The Chief Minister said nobody will be allowed to get away with killing people with the poison called spurious liquor. He had put the entire force of the Punjab Police to crack down on the mafia, said Captain Amarinder.

Some unscrupulous elements took advantage of the police focus on battling the Covid pandemic to satiate their greed at the cost of the lives of Punjabis, said the Chief Minister. While the state government was busy battling Covid, which has claimed 449 lives in the state so far, the liquor mafia seized the opportunity to play with the lives of our people, he added.

This is sheer murder and the killers will not get away with it, Captain Amarinder said, referring to the death of 111 people (83 from Tarn Taran, 15 from Amritsar and 13 from Batala) due to the spurious liquor. “They knew this could kill and yet they supplied/sold the poison to innocent people. They deserve no mercy,” said Captain Amarinder, adding that his government stands with the families of the deceased in their hour of grief and he will leave no stone unturned to ensure justice for them. 

Castigating the opposition for exploiting the tragedy for their petty political interests, the Chief Minister said this is not the time to play politics but to stand by the government in its efforts to eliminate the mafia that is indulging in such acts. He flayed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over its dharnas against the hooch tragedy, and asked how this would help in battling the mafia or supporting the bereaved families

The Chief Minister pointed out that such tragedies have been taking place through the years across states, under different political dispensations. Mafias and criminals do not have any political affiliation, their only interest is to earn money by hook or by crook, he said, noting that 2019 had seen three hooch tragedies, all in the BJP-ruled states of Assam, UP and Uttarakhand, claiming 168, 97 and 30 lives. In 2016, 16 people had died in Janata Dal ruled Bihar while in 2015, BJP-led Maharashtra had lost 102 lives to hooch in Mumbai and under the Trinamool Congress rule in West Bengal, as many as 167 people had similarly died due to consumption of spurious liquor.

Almost every year, India sees some or the other hooch tragedy, which has nothing to do with who is in power in the affected state, said Captain Amarinder, urging the opposition parties to stop playing politics over the lives of innocent Punjabis. “Our people don’t care which party is ruling the state, all they want is justice for their loved ones, who fell victim to the greed of the liquor mafia,” he said, pointing out that Punjab had also witnessed similar tragedies under the SAD-BJP regime.  The Chief Minister urged the opposition to rise, for once, above their petty political interests, to fight for justice for the people.

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