Stalin Government Refuses CBI Investigation Despite 56 Deaths from Poisonous Liquor; Protesters Arrested
Stalin Government Refuses CBI Investigation Despite 56 Deaths from Poisonous Liquor; Protesters Arrested

Chennai: The death toll from the tragic Kallakurichi illicit liquor incident has climbed to 56 as of Saturday night, despite the state government's refusal to allow a CBI investigation. Currently, 159 individuals are undergoing treatment in various hospitals. In response to the incident, hundreds of BJP members were arrested for protesting against the government's decision not to permit a CBI probe and demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Stalin, whom they hold morally accountable.

Addressing the media on the 22nd, Tamil Nadu Law Minister S. Regupathy defended the government's stance, asserting transparency in transferring the case to CB-CID and appointing an inquiry commission. He criticized the AIADMK for politicizing the issue, citing a similar incident in Panruti in 2001 where no commission or CB-CID probe was initiated by the AIADMK government. Regupathy reiterated the government's commitment to combating illicit liquor production and sales vigorously. Responding to suggestions about opening toddy shops, he stated that the current situation did not warrant such actions.

DMK MLAs T. Udhaysuriyan and K. Karthikeyan challenged PMK leaders Dr. S. Ramadoss and Anbumani Ramadoss to substantiate their allegations against DMK officials or exit politics. The PMK leaders had accused DMK district secretaries and MLAs of involvement in the illicit liquor issue. Opposition parties such as BJP and AIADMK allege that the government's resistance to a CBI probe is shielding party members linked to illicit liquor activities and insist on CM Stalin's resignation.

BJP leader K. Annamalai emphasized the demand for a CBI probe to uncover the truth behind the illicit liquor nexus involving DMK leaders and bootleggers. He accused the government of attempting to bury the case and vowed to persist until justice is served. Annamalai's statements during a press briefing in Coimbatore underscored BJP's resolve to challenge the DMK administration, with plans to petition the Governor and organize protests statewide.

The tragic incident has prompted widespread protests by the BJP across Tamil Nadu, including Coimbatore, Chennai, Madurai, and Salem, resulting in the arrest of over 500 party members, including women. Allegations of police misconduct during the protests have surfaced, with complaints of rough handling and inadequate facilities. Senior BJP leaders like H. Raja in Madurai and K.P. Ramalingam in Salem were among those detained, condemning what they described as suppression of democratic dissent by the DMK-led government.

The policy note from Tamil Nadu's Prohibition and Excise Department for 2024-25 highlighted an increase in revenue from state-run TASMAC liquor outlets, reaching Rs. 46,855.67 crores in 2023-24. It also mentioned beer exports totaling Rs. 1.88 crore to other states and abroad during the year. Although the note outlined measures to prevent deaths from illicit liquor, it did not directly reference the Kallakurichi tragedy.

Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker M. Appavu issued a gag order preventing media coverage of discussions related to the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy within the assembly, where the loss of 56 lives has deeply impacted the state.

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