Mumbai hooch tragedy: Accused face murder charges

Mumbai, Sep 10 (IANS) Police on Thursday filed a voluminous 13,760-page charge sheet invoking murder charges against the 14 main accused, including three women, in Maharashtra’s worst hooch tragedy which killed 106 people and left another 75 injured in Mumbai’s Malwani suburb in June.

Another two accused were shown as absconders, besides 577 witnesses, in the charge sheet filed before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Esplanade Court in south Mumbai, according to Crime Branch investigator Chimaji Adhav.

The accused have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code related to murder, attempt to murder, voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means, and other sections pertaining to sale of liquor.

The accused are Raju Thapar alias Langda (50), Donald Patel (40), Gautam Arde (30), Salimuddin Sheikh (40), Francis D’Mello (46), Kishore Patel (49), Mansoor Khan (26), Prakash Patel alias Lala (42), Leeladhar Patel (52), Bharat Patel (41), Subhash Giri (66).

The women accused are Mamta Rathod (30), Geeta Sayyed alias Simran (45) and Agnes Grace (50).

Natubhai Patel and Sanjay Tomar are the absconding accused.

Describing the modus operandi resulting in the tragedy, Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Atul Kulkarni said the accused used to get methyl containers from ink manufacturers mainly in and around Vapi in adjoining Gujarat.

These ink companies have licence to purchase a specified amount of the chemical, methyl, generally around 40-50 litres per company, which was illicitly passed on to the hooch traders.

Some people like Bharat Patel and Prakash Patel, working in these ink companies, were aware, and Subhash Giri passed it on to absconder Sanjay for mixing the killer hooch with methane or ethanol.

The 100 litres they managed to procure in this manner was diluted and made 200 litres which was in turn supplied to hooch traders like Raju Thapar and many others.

The investigations revealed that Bharat Patel used to supply methanol pilfered from sugar factories which legitimately manufactured it and was sold for industrial use by around 8-10 ink factories in Vapi.

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