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Hooch toll mist amid bribe slur

Eleven people in Barabanki district died after drinking spurious liquor on Wednesday, district medical officer S.K. Singh told reporters the same evening.

By Piyush Srivastava

  • Published 12.01.18
Yogi Adityanath

Lucknow: Eleven people in Barabanki district died after drinking spurious liquor on Wednesday, district medical officer S.K. Singh told reporters the same evening.

District magistrate Akhilesh Tiwari, however, claimed on Thursday that hooch had killed only three while the rest died of illness or the cold.

A villager alleged the administration had pressured and bribed at least three households to say their family members had died of cold.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has announced Rs 2 lakh each for the families "of the victims of Barabanki" without specifying the number. He has ordered a probe.

Eight of the dead, aged between 22 and 55, are from three villages in the Deva Kotwali area and three are from Salarpur, a neighbouring village. "I visited the homes of the dead. Three relatives of an ailing old man had gone to see him. Later, they bought liquor from Deva (town) and drank it. They died in hospital," Tiwari told reporters.

"Two people died in the cold wave and one suffered a heart attack. The remaining five died of other illnesses."

Tiwari said the police had questioned a liquor seller in Deva and seized a pouch for a lab test.

Singh, the medical officer, had said on Wednesday evening that the 11 victims had drunk hooch and were unconscious when they arrived in hospital.

A Salarpur resident told reporters that excise officials had visited the village late on Wednesday night and asked the bereaved households to tell the police their family members had died of cold.

"They said we would receive a cash compensation if we didn't tell the police the real reason," the villager, who says his brother died after drinking hooch, said.

"They took our signatures on blank paper. Later, some people distributed Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 among the families of the dead and asked them not to change their statements."

Barabanki is notorious for its hooch racket.

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