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Ghusuri hooch tragedy: Death toll rises to nine

 With three more people succumbing, the death toll in the hooch tragedy in Ghusuri in West Bengal's Howrah district on Wednesday rose to nine.

Ghusuri hooch tragedy: Death toll rises to nine

The toll is likely to rise during the course of the day as the condition of some of those admitted to a local hospital is stated to be "extremely" critical.

Local police sources said that on Wednesday morning, six people died after they consumed spurious liquor at a local hooch-joint which is at a stone's throw distance behind the local Malipanchghora Police Station. Twenty others were admitted to a local hospital where three died.

The deceased have been identified as Amit Kumar Burma, Anil Chaurasia, Ranjit Gupta, Lakshman Shau, Tribhuban Pandit, Sukumar Chowdhury, Prakash Mitra, Biskut Roy and Rajeshwar Roy. The first six persons named in the list reportedly died in the morning, while three more died later. All of them were employed in local factories and foundry units in the Ghusuri area.

Meanwhile, the owner of the said hooch-joint which is located adjacent to the railway tracks near the Malipanchghora Police Station, Pratap Karmakar, who was absconding since Wednesday morning, has been ultimately nabbed by the local police. He is being interrogated now on where from he sourced the liquor which was served on Tuesday night, consuming which so many people died.

On Wednesday afternoon, the commissioner of Howrah City Police, Praveen Kumar Tripathi reached the area and interacted with the local people. He said that the police are investigating the matter and none will be spared.

Meanwhile, political mud-slinging has started over the tragedy. State Congress president and the veteran party MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that hooligans have a free-ride in West Bengal in the current Trinamool Congress regime. "We have heard of coal-mafia, cattle mafia and illegal arms-mafia before. Now we are hearing of hooch-mafia enjoying the patronage of the ruling party and the local police administration. The hooch joint was running from very close to the local police station. Is it believable the local ruling party leaders and the local police were not aware of it," he said?

CPI(M) central committee member, Sujan Chakraborty said that liquor is the only source of revenue for the state government and also an avenue for earning for local Trinamool Congress leaders. "So, such illegal hooch-joints are mushrooming across the state under the direct patronage of local administration and local ruling party leaders," he said.

The Trinamool Congress's state general secretary and party spokesman, Kunal Ghosh said that opposition parties are unnecessarily doing politics over dead bodies. "The police will not spare those responsible for this tragedy. I would like to remind Sujan Chakraborty that the network of liquor shops in West Bengal was extended mainly during the previous Left Front regime," he said.

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