The kingpin of the illicit liquor manufacturing gang is a person nick-named ‘Doctor’, which has a good knowledge about spirits.
Five people have been arrested for allegedly manufacturing and selling spurious liquor that killed as many as 80, including a minor, in Bihar’s Chapra. The gang prepared an alcoholic substance using homoeopathic medicines, chemicals and sugar, according to the police.
The gang members have been identified as Shailendra Rai of Madhaura area, Sonu Kumar Giri of Khaira, and Arjun Mahto and Sanjay Mahto of Ishuapur.
“A man named Rajesh Singh alias Doctor is the mastermind of the gang. A member had fallen ill after consuming the liquor. He was arrested upon his return from the hospital. The role of this gang came into light after his questioning,” said Santosh Kumar, superintendent of police (SP) of Saran district.
Kingpin Rajesh was arrested based on the statement given to the special investigation team (SIT) of Saran Police by gang member Sanjay Mahto, a resident of Ishuapur area.
The majority of deaths due to the consumption of this liquor took place in Ishuapur and Mashrak areas of Saran district.
“After Mahto’s arrest, it was revealed that Rajesh was arrested in the past for his involvement in the illicit liquor trade. He has a good knowledge about spirits,” the police officer informed.
SP Singh further said, “Rajesh bought homoeopathic medicines with more than 90 per cent alcohol in their ingredients from drug companies based in Uttar Pradesh using fake name and address.”
The gang members manufactured and sold liquor but no one fell ill after consuming it. “However, they have said that they made a mistake in the manufacturing process which made the liquor spurious,” said the police officer.
The SIT has also recovered empty bottles of homoeopathic medicines used in manufacturing.
Hundreds of bottles of medicine named ‘Aconite Napellus’ sold under the brand name ‘Dilution’ by New Delhi-based pharma company Lord’s Homoeopathic Laboratory Pvt Ltd were recovered based on the statement of Sanjay Mahto. This medicine has 90 per cent of alcoholic content.
According to medical journals, Aconite is used to treat patients for sudden fever caused by exposure to cold weather.
The hooch tragedy in Chapra has caused a political storm in Bihar, with Opposition parties and even members of the ruling alliance blaming chief minister Nitish Kumar’s 2016 law of liquor prohibition for such deaths in the state. They argue that such incidents will keep happening in the absence of quality-controlled packaged alcohol in the state.
Several leaders have called for CM Kumar to step down and demanded compensation for the victim families, but the Janata Dal (United) leader has refused to relent.
“You think the government will give compensation to those who die because of liquor consumption? If you drink you will die. Piyega, garbar piyega, marega (if you drink and if you drink bad liquor, you will die,” he told legislators in the state Assembly last week.
Kumar’s statement was met with protests by his former ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which raised the matter in the parliament.
Leaders in Bihar have called the state’s liquor ban a “failed affair”. Several BJP leaders have demanded that Kumar should be booked for murder every time any person dies after consuming spurious liquor in Bihar.
Days after people started dying, the state government constituted the SIT, comprising three deputy superintendent of police (DSP) level officers and 31 other cops to investigate deaths.
Earlier, at least 40 illegal liquor suppliers were detained.