Nitish Admits Deaths in Gopalganj Caused by Illicit Liquor

Family members of the hooch tragedy in Gopalganj.

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Patna: After four days of playing coy over the death of sixteen people in Gopalganj district, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on late Friday admitted that the tragedy was the result of the consumption of illicit liquor and not food poisoning as previously conjectured by him.

Not willing to admit though that the prohibition in Bihar was far from working and more such deaths would take place in the coming days or months, Kumar instead ordered the suspension of 25 cops holding them directly responsible for the tragedy in Gopalganj.

Whether Kumar will order the arrests of all adult family members of all sixteen victims as outlined in the new Excise Law is yet to be seen.

Kumar had earlier stated that the autopsy report did not conclusively determine that spurious liquor was the cause for the 16 deaths.

"In the postmortem report, the liquor angle has not been proved but there must be some reason for 15 deaths. That reason could be liquor", the Chief Minister had said on Friday.

Superintendent of Police (SP) Raviranjan Kumar said that 15 policemen, including the station in-charge of Khajurbanni, were suspended on the charge of dereliction of duty.

Meanwhile, four other victims of the hooch tragedy remain admitted at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) battling for their lives.

So far over a dozen people have been arrested in the case while many remain at large, officials said.

Kumar, who was celebrating Rakhi with his sisters and visiting school girls, said the 'culprits would be dealt with seriously'. He further said that this incident would have no impact on the current liquor policy in the state.

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