Death toll rises to 45, five in critical condition

Toxic liquor

Toba Tek Singh

Initial investigation report held police authorities responsible over sale of toxic liquor that claimed over 45 lives in Toba Tek Singh. Initial investigation report submitted to the Chief Minister on Wednesday stated that police confiscated alcohol two months ago and allegedly sold it to culprits on Christmas eve as Bishop Joseph Arshad said he had been informed that the liquor was brought from the Chuttiana police station’s storehouse.
Residents of the area alleged that Sawan Masih, a sweeper at the Chuttiana police station, had sold the liquor to Sajjad Masih, a district police lines sanitation worker. Sajjad had first sold the liquor in the Mubarikabad Colony and later filled the rest of it in a water cooler and placed it on a street corner to be consumed for free. Sajjad Masih was the first person who drank the alcohol and fainted after consuming it.
He was taken to the DHQ Hospital and later referred to the Allied Hospital but could not survive. Following his death, residents of the locality made announcements from the church loudspeaker requesting anyone who had consumed the liquor and felt poorly to rush to the hospital without delay. Meanwhile, addressing a press conference, DPO Usman Akram said that three bootleggers—Sawan Masih, Shahid and Qasim had been arrested and investigation was in progress.
He added that 20 victims were still under treatment in the hospital while the condition of five was stated to be serious. The last rituals of 30 dead have been performed here and they were buried in Masihi graveyard. Meanwhile, MNA Muhammad Junaid Anwar and MPAs- Ch Amjad Ali Javed and Mian Muhammad Rafique visited Christian colony and expressed condolence with the bereaved families.
They assured the bereaved families of full cooperation from the government for all kind of assistance and providing jobs to the members of the affected families.
The legislatures announced that Christmas Fund would be disbursed among the affected families. The legislatures also participated in prayers ceremony at Saint Peters High School here.
Ruling party’s MNA Khalid Javed Warraich has called for stern action against SHO Younas Gujjar. Meanwhile, emergency is still imposed in District Headquarters Hospital as death toll continues to mount. DHQ MS Mohammad Asif Saleemi told that a total of 149 people were affected. Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has constituted a committee and has directed report in 48 hours.—INP

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