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53 dead in TN hooch tragedy, govt rules out CBI probe

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
June 22, 2024 18:18 IST
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The death toll in the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy rose to 53 on Saturday and the administration said the condition of 140 people is currently stable.

IMAGE: Tamil Nadu Youth Welfare Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin pays his last respects to the victims of the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy, in Kallakurichi on Thursday. Photograph: ANI Photo

About 140 people out of 193 who were admitted to various government medical facilities after they consumed the spurious liquor on Tuesday night were currently stable, Kallakurichi district collector M S Prasanth said.

"So far 53 people have passed away. Seven people have been arrested in connection with the spurious liquor tragedy," he told reporters after visiting the victims at the Kallakurich government hospital.


Meanwhile, the hooch tragedy echoed for the second consecutive day in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Saturday with the main opposition party All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam staging a walkout over the matter.

The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam hit out at the AIADMK for attempting to do politics over the painful issue and dismissed the plea for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry saying the government is transparent.

"The government is transparent, we have not hidden anything, CBI inquiry is not needed," Law Minister S Regupathy said.

The AIADMK legislators, led by leader of opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami, sought adjournment of the question hour as soon as the House convened and demanded that they be permitted to raise the Kallakurichi issue.

Speaker M Appavu said question hour cannot be adjourned and told them that they will be given the time they wanted during zero hour to raise the matter.

However, the AIADMK members persisted on their demand and later staged a walkout.

Speaking to reporters outside the House, Palaniswami said his party was denied permission to raise the Kallakurichi issue for the second consecutive day.

"We have information that out of the 183 treated persons 55 were dead; everyday the death toll is rising," he claimed and said several lives could have been saved had the government acted swiftly.

Referring to Health Minister Ma Subramanian's reported statement that a reason for the deaths was delay on the part of the affected people in seeking treatment he alleged: "What he says is a blatant lie; it shows the government's incompetence."

The government is responsible for the delay as the former collector himself had initially claimed that the deaths were not due to illicit arrack. Hence, people believed that there was no issue with illicit liquor. Also, several people who turned up at a locality to mourn the death of victims consumed spurious liquor.

The former chief minister reiterated his claim that a life-saving drug, an antidote to methanol was 'not available'.

He alleged that truth will not emerge from the inquiries of the one-man commission set up by the state government.

In order to ensure justice for the poor people the government should order a CBI probe and that is why the AIADMK has approached the Madras high court.

Law Minister Regupathi, describing the Kallakurichi deaths as grievous, told reporters that the AIADMK has lost all the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies (39 in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry) in the recent Parliamentary election and hence it is attempting to create problem.

Palaniswami attempted to stall the House proceedings for the second successive day and made unfounded allegations.

The main opposition deliberately created ruckus during question hour since they have no scope to do politics and have been defeated at the people's court. The people have boycotted them and they are looking for opportunities to do politics, he alleged.

In the Thootuhkudi custodial death case (2020), the DMK, as main opposition party had then sought CBI probe as the then chief minister, now LoP, Palaniswami 'concealed' facts, he claimed.

Earlier, Appavu said opportunity is given to raise issues during zero hour and the opposition party members should conduct themselves in a civilised manner.

Palaniswami had been the CM and taking a position to raise any issue at any time is not acceptable. The main opposition party continuously hindering proceedings is not fair and not acceptable. On August 18, 2016, the then Speaker (P Dhanapal) had given a ruling that permission will be given during zero hour to members following completion of question hour and the then opposition party (DMK) had extended cooperation, he said.

Senior Minister (PWD) EV Velu, referring to Palaniswami seeking adjournment of Question Hour and urging permission of the chair to raise the issue said that the Question Hour is common to all party members be it ruling or opposition and the Speaker is giving equal opportunity to all. Motion for adjournment and call attention motions are usually taken up during the Zero Hour.

Adjournment motion (on a matter of public importance) is governed by a specific rule and the main opposition party did not submit any request in this regard in the prescribed form to the Speaker.

By harping on 'adjournment, they are taking the time of all the members', and they should be briefed on adjournment and call attention motions once again.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.