Mandi Hooch tragedy: SIT nabs three more, including kingpin of illicit liquor trade

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The Special Investigating Team of Himachal Pradesh Police probing the hooch tragedy in Mandi busted the illicit liquor gang and arrested three more persons, including kingpin Gaurav Minhas alias Guru. With this, seven people have been arrested.

SP Mandi Shalini Agnihotri identified the arrested accused as Narender alias Kalu, Minhas and Ajay Kohli. A local court sent them in police remand till January 26. She added that more than half a dozen people who were apprehended by the SIT are being interrogated.

During investigation, two illicit liquor plants, one in Hamirpur and another in Nalagarh, were also found. The SP said that more arrests are likely to take place.

Director General of Police Sanjay Kundu said that the hooch that cause the deaths was manufactured in Hamirpur. He said it is being probed if the liquor mafia used methyl alcohol instead of ethyl alcohol to manufacture liquor.

He said that it came to during the investigation that Guru was running an illicit bottling unit at Hamirpur in collusion with Praveen Thakur of the district. The raw material for production and packaging was received from other states.

He said that one Sagar Saini of Delhi provided the spirit in drums and AK Tripathi, from Samba in Jammu and Kashmir, provided the formula. The bottling unit in Hamirpur was run by two persons belonging to UP, who mixed the ingredients to manufacture liquor. Empty bottles were procured from a scrap dealer in Hamirpur while caps, boxes and cartons were procured from Parwanoo.

Kundu said based on interrogation and inputs, it seems Guru was the kingpin of the illegal trade. DGP said that he had a very strong network of distributors and supply chain.

The SIT seized more than 6000 bottles of illicit liquor, five plastic tanks, seven cartons containing bottle caps , 124 sheets containing more than 2,500 holograms, two bottle sealing machines.

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