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Home > India > News > Report

Karnataka: Where hooch flows like water!

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore | May 20, 2008 23:52 IST

The ghastly hooch tragedy has struck Karnataka once again and this time it has claimed 86 lives. The deadliest tragedy occurred in Karnataka in 1981 in which 323 people lost their lives after consuming spurious liquor.

There have been five such incidents, including this one, after the 1981 fiasco and ironically in none of the incidents, have the police managed to make any headway where the investigations are concerned.

Fingers have been pointed at powerful persons, several persons have been rounded up, but the conviction rate is next to zero.

Following the 1981 incident in which 323 people lost their lives, a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice R G Desai was set up to look into the matter. The Commission in its report had found several bootleggers guilty behind the incident. Ironically after the submission of such an extensive report, the police failed to nab the culprits and there were no convictions which came out of it.

In 1981, a similar incident took place at Mysore in which 36 persons lost their lives after consuming illicit liquor. The result was pretty much the same in this case with not a single conviction being recorded.

The year 2005 witnessed two incidents in which 60 persons lost their lives. The first incident, which occurred in Bangalore, claimed 35 lives while 25 died in a separate incident in Sakleshpur, Hassan Karnataka. This incident brought to the fore the nexus between the Excise Department and the bootleggers.

Around 20 excise officials were suspended following this case, but yet again the accused to manage to get away. Once the heat on the incident dropped, the officials were re-instated. The case was no different in so far as Sakleshpur with all the persons involved in the case getting away scot-free.

The year 2006 witnessed another tragedy in which 20 persons died after consuming illicit liquor at Srirampur in Bangalore. The culprits continue to walk scot-free and a Commission of Inquiry set up to probe the matter is yet to submit its report.

Police officers in Bangalore told that over the past one year the sale of spurious liquor has shot up. The liquor which is available in packets is sold at Rs 10, which is the price at which arrack was available before being banned.

The JD(S)-BJP government had banned the sale of arrack in the state around a year ago.

 Prior to the ban, contractors who dealt with arrack had their own squads which they used to call as raiding squads. To ensure that their product is sold well in the market, the raiding squads used to patrol the border areas to ensure that no spurious liquor is supplied into the villages.

However with the raiding squad out of action following the arrack ban, the sale of spurious liquor has shot up as it is the next option available for those drinking dirt cheap liquor.

The two special teams, which have been formed to probe this case, are looking at various factors which led to this incident. Apart from conducting investigation in the border areas along with their counterparts in Tamil Nadu, checking at railway stations have increased. The police now have concrete information that the hooch is being brewed in a place called Malur and transported into Bangalore by night by train.