Chandigarh, Aug 4 (PTI) Under fire from the opposition over the spurious liquor tragedy that has claimed over 110 lives, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said no one will be spared if found complicit in the hooch deaths.
Describing the deaths in the hooch tragedy as 'sheer murder', the chief minister said he would now allow the 'killers' to get away with it.
As many as 111 people have died in the hooch tragedy that took place in Tarn Taran, Amritsar and Gurdaspur's Batala.
The chief minister said he would finish off the liquor mafia in the state.
'No one, whether a politician or a public servant, will be spared if found complicit in the hooch deaths,' said the chief minister.
He said the entire force of the Punjab Police would crack down on the mafia.
Promising the strictest action in the matter, Singh said, '111 deaths have taken place because of spurious liquor. The entire police force and the Excise department have been put on the job, and I want this job to be finished in the next two days.' 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, the CM said in a statement here.
While the state government was busy battling COVID-19, 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,' the CM said.
'They knew this could kill and yet they supplied/sold the poison to innocent people. They deserve no mercy,' he added.
Singh said his government was with the families of the deceased in their hour of grief, and asserted that he would leave no stone unturned to ensure justice for them.
Slamming the opposition for 'exploiting' the tragedy for their 'petty political interests', the CM said this was 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 targeted the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over its dharnas against the hooch tragedy, and asked how it would help in battling the mafia or supporting the bereaved families.
The chief minister pointed out that such tragedies had been taking place through the years across states under different political dispensations.
The mafia and the criminals do not have any political affiliation, their only interest is to earn money by hook or by crook, he said.
Singh said 2019 had seen three hooch tragedies, all in BJP-ruled states of Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, that claimed over 290 lives.
In 2016, 16 people had died in Janata Dal-ruled Bihar, while in 2015, BJP-led Maharashtra had seen 102 lives lost to hooch in Mumbai, and under the Trinamool Congress rule in West Bengal, as many as 167 people died due to consumption of spurious liquor, he added.
Hooch tragedies take place almost every year, but this has nothing to do with the party in power in the affected state, the chief minister asserted.
He urged the opposition 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,' Singh said, pointing out that Punjab had also witnessed similar tragedies under the SAD-BJP regime.
The chief minister urged the opposition to rise above political interests and fight for justice for the people.
Opposition parties have been targeting the Congress government over the hooch deaths and have demanded the resignation of the chief minister.
Two Congress Rajya Sabha MPs, Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo, have petitioned the Punjab governor for a probe by the CBI and the ED into the alleged 'illegal' liquor trade. PTI CHS VSD IJT