If the chief minister has his way, those responsible for the 104 deaths in the Malwani hooch tragedy could pay for the crime with their own lives. In what could be a strong deterrent for the illicit liquor mafia, CM Devendra Fadnavis yesterday demanded capital punishment for the culprits, and said he had asked the city police to make a watertight case.
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He added that the culprits’ actions amounted to mass homicide, which deserved nothing but the death sentence. “There could be no harsher sentence than this (death) for the people who have killed several people by selling them the fatal liquor,” he said, at his Vidhan Bhavan office.
Fadnavis said he had instructed the police to make a case under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA), which acts against organised crime and terrorism and went on to add, “I’m told there is a provision for death sentence in the MCOCA, and, hence, we will follow it and file the case chargesheet under it.”
Fadnavis has also appointed a committee under Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya to probe the Malwani case. The CS, who is on leave, has been asked to examine who is accountable for the hooch tragedy, and to recommend measures to prevent such incidents across the state.
The state cabinet, which met yesterday, also discussed the deaths caused by consumption of spurious liquor and supported a proposal to offer more assistance to the survivors and families of victims. Convinced that incidents like the Malwani tragedy occur only due to a nexus between bootleggers and the local excise/police officers, Fadnavis has issued directives to the heads of all city and district police units to take up massive drives to destroy unauthorised breweries.
mid-day had reported yesterday that the accused in the Malwani case admitted to the Crime Branch that the local cops would turn a blind eye to their operations (‘Senior Malwani cops looked the other way for Rs 600 a month?’, June 23).
In addition, yesterday’s front-page story (‘It’s business as usual for hooch units in national park’) also detailed how the Malwani hooch deaths had left hooch manufacturers unfazed, as they continue to brew moonshine in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
“Such a tragic event cannot take place without the connivance of local excise and police officers. Although action has been initiated in this (Malwani) case, it requires that an immediate, massive drive across the state is undertaken by the police commissioners and superintendents of police, with the help of excise officials,” stated the CM’s directive.
“If you find the slightest evidence of connivance by police/excise officers, take immediate strict action, including suspension, by following the procedure laid down by the law. Such actions should be taken against those found to be involved or found to be conniving, howsoever senior he or she might be,” Fadnavis said.