Even as the death toll continues to rise in the hooch tragedy at Malwani which claimed 64 lives till the time of going to press Mumbai Police has responded by suspending eight policemen, including the Senior PI at Malwani police station, for their failure to shut down the illicit liquor racket.
Mumbai hooch tragedy: 64 dead, but did Malwani cops help culprits escape?
Mumbai Police spokesperson Dhananjay Kulkarni confirmed that eight cops from the police station had been suspended, and sources said this included SPI Prakash Patil who was heading the station.
As mid-day reported yesterday, families that lost their loved ones to the toxic brew alleged that they had complained about the racket to the police several times, but no action was taken.
However, the suspension could be seen as a face-saving move, since the pressure is now on the police to explain why no action. On Friday, mid-day had highlighted how the police station and SPI Patil had a chequered history. Under his watch, the station saw two anti corruption bureau investigations and a custodial death.
Mumbai hooch tragedy: Malwani SPI knew about racket, allege cops
Despite this, Patil was not transferred, nor did he face any other consequences. Sources had also pointed out that since Patil had investigated a 2004 hooch case in Vikhroli, he was familiar with how such rackets operated, and he could have averted the tragedy by taking action on time.
Also under the scanner is API Jagdish Panhale, who was the beat officer at the police chowky that covered Laxmi Nagar, where the spurious liquor was sold. “We have suspended SPI Prakash Patil, API Jagdish Panhale, PSI Shankar Gharge, PSI Manisha Shirsat, head constable Rammilan Singh, constables Arun Jadhav and Vilas Desai and police naik Sanjay Mane,” said a police officer who did not wish to be named.
Also read: Hooch horror in Malwani; toll rises to 41
Incidentally, the state excise department’s office also responsible for keeping watch on spurious alcohol is just 100 metres from the spot where the hooch racket operated. Sources said the department is also likely to launch an inquiry against its officers for failing to monitor and prevent the situation.