Kingpin behind spurious liquor tragedy nabbed

May 23rd, 2008 - 2:16 am ICT by admin  

Bangalore, May 22 (IANS) The prime suspect behind the spurious liquor racket which has claimed at least 168 lives since Sunday was arrested at Dharamapuri in Tamil Nadu, a top police official said here Thursday. “We have arrested Sounder Rajan, 38, the prime accused in the spurious liquor incident that has claimed 168 lives so far in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu since the tragedy struck Sunday,” Bangalore Deputy Commissioner of Police (crime branch) N.D. Mullah told reporters.

Rajan was taken into custody at Dharamapuri, about 90 km from India’s IT hub, and was being brought here, he said.

Rajan is charged with selling the spurious liquor from his illegal outlet in a crowded suburb here. He fled from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu when victims of the poisonous brew began to die by the hour in their houses and state-run hospitals since Sunday afternoon.

Sale of arrack, also known as toddy, was banned by the previous Karnataka government in June 2007 on pressure from working women, self-help groups and NGOs, as its consumption by men-folk was ruining the lives of poor families.

“We had arrested three other suspects in the city Tuesday after they were interrogated for involvement in the illicit liquor trade. We are also on the look-out for more suspects who had distributed the hooch in Bangalore rural, Kolar district and Krishnagiri in neighbouring Tamil Nadu,” Mullah said.

The police suspect most victims bought the adulterated liquor, which had higher content of deadly methanol, from Rajan’s outlets in the city, Anekal and Hosur in the rural parts and Krishnagiri.

Meanwhile, the police said with seven more victims succumbing during the day, the toll had gone up to 125 in Karnataka, including 65 in Bangalore city, 35 in Bangalore Rural district and 25 in Kolar district. In Krishnagiri, the number of deaths increased to 43.

“About 150 of the victims are under observation in private and state-run hospitals, including 103 in Karnataka and 47 in Krishnagiri,” the police added.

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