Alok Mishra

Gopalganj: Axe is likely to fall on the officials of Excise Department in Gopalganj district after death of 16 persons ( official figure), who had consumed hooch on August 15. Earlier, on Thursday, all the police personnel of Town police station including SHO were placed under suspension by Gopalganj SP Ravi Ranjan. The state government sent Principal secretary, Prohibition and Excise Department, K K Pathak to Gopalganj on Friday. According to unconfirmed reports, 19 persons had died in hooch tragedy.

Pathak, who visited village Khajurbani where liquor was being manufactured, directed the officials to carry out survey of the village. He said that property of liquor mafias would be seized and their bank accounts would be freezed. “We should take lesson from such incident so that it is not repeated again,” he told the officials.

Pathak, who was accompanied by Gopalganj DM Rahul Kumar and SP Ravi Ranjan, gave necessary directives to both the officials. Seeing the topography of the village, Pathak said that it is crystal clear that liquor trade was going on in an organized manner in the area. Raids were on to nab those involved in this nefarious trade, he said.

Regarding action by the Gopalganj district administration against liquor traders, Pathak said that seven persons had been arrested in this connection. He said that police officials of Town police station have already been placed under suspension.

The Principal secretary said that if any official of Excise Department is found guilty, stern action would be taken against him. He also visited the areas from where liquor was recovered. Both DM and SP also showed Pathak the houses of liquor mafias from where some arrests were made.

Talking to reporters after his visit, Pathak gave indication that action would be taken against the officials of the Excise Department. He said that he has given necessary directives to the DM and asked him to work on some points. He admitted that a large number of bhattis (liquor manufacturing units) were running at village Khajurbani. “The officials of Excise Department never took action against the owners of such units,” he admitted adding the officials of Excise Department are equally guilty like the district police. “Action would be taken against such officials,” he pointed out.

Pathak said that he tried to mingle with the people of the village. But there was none as they have fled from there fearing action, he said adding that he talked to a physically challenged person Vishwanath Sharma and inquired from him about the clandestine trade going in the village. Pathak also saw the demolished bhattis and directed the officials to collect evidences from there. After holding parleys with DM and SP, Pathak returned to Patna. Gopalganj DM said that actions including collective fines would be taken after getting nod from the Excise Department and local police.

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