Death toll reaches 13 in Bihar, opposition blames Nitish Kumar
Patna, Aug 17 (IANS) As the toll in the mystery deaths in Bihar’s Gopalganj district climbed to 13 on Wednesday, opposition blamed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the tragedy.
“Three more people died on Wednesday, including an early morning death and two later during the day, taking the overnight death toll to thirteen,” a district official said.
Two more are reported to be critical at a government hospital, the police said.
The administration on Wednesday morning ordered a probe after families claimed it to be a hooch tragedy.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has targeted the Chief Minister for the tragedy.
Senior BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav said: “If there is total ban on liquor in Bihar, how come the poor are dying after consuming it? The Nitish Kumar-led government has failed to enforce liquor ban.”
All victims of the supposed hooch tragedy were residents of Nonia Tola locality. Families had reported that the victims had complained of uneasiness and breathlessness, followed by stomach pain and vomiting, after they consumed “desi” alcohol on Tuesday evening.
Their condition deteriorated on Tuesday night and later they died in the hospital, the police said.
Rahul Kumar, Gopalganj District Magistrate, constituted a three-member team and ordered a probe into the incident.
“It is too early to say anything about the exact cause of the deaths,” Kumar had said.
Gopalganj Superintendent of Police Ravi Ranjan had, however, refuted the rumours of spurious liquor consumption.
“It is a matter of coincidence that they died one after another in a span of few hours,” Ranjan said.
The incident has exposed that despite total prohibition on liquor consumption in Bihar since April 5 this year, alcohol is available in the black market.
Additional Director General of Police Sunil Kumar said at least 4,707 people were arrested during the last four months and 3,719 FIRs were lodged in connection with flouting of the liquor ban.
Two soldiers, policeman killed in pre-dawn Kashmir attack
Srinagar, Aug 17 (IANS) Two soldiers and a policeman were killed in a pre-dawn attack on Wednesday when militants ambushed an Indian Army convoy on a highway in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district – the second deadly strike on security forces in three days.
The attack comes amid the deadliest Kashmir unrest in six years that began after the July 8 killing of rebel commander Burhan Wani. The militant’s death has provoked angry protests by Kashmiri youth who hail Wani as their hero.
As the street unrest continues, militant violence has also escalated in the state.
Security officials blamed the unrest on the surge in militant attacks after years of decline.
“Militants have been able to consolidate as security forces remain busy in controlling the unrest,” a top police officer told IANS in Baramulla where the latest attack occurred.
The officer said heavily armed men ambushed an army convoy near Baramulla town around 3. 30 a.m. and killed two soldiers. They struck again and killed one policeman when a police deployment reached there.
Authorities have said some 60 militants have managed to sneak into the valley from Pakistan in the weeks of unrest.
At least four security personnel were injured in the attack, which comes two days after militants killed a paramilitary commandant in Srinagar on Independence Day. Militants also attacked a police station in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district late on Tuesday, injuring five policeman.
The Kashmir Valley has been on the boil for nearly six weeks now. Some 63 civilians have been killed in firing by security forces during clashes with protesters. At least two policemen have also been killed.
Schools, shops, banks and offices have remain closed in much of the valley as police and paramilitary troopers patrol on roads to prevent people from coming out on the streets.
The curfew and separatist-called shut down on Wednesday continued to paralyse normal life for the 40th day in a row.
The curfew and communications blackout have, however, failed to bring calm in the valley. Separatists have called for a march to the UN office in Srinagar and a 72-hour sit-in if security forces stop them.