The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday sent a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government over reported deaths of 150 people in the last 15 years due to consuming "illicit liquor" in Mainpuri district.
In a statement issued by the commission, it said they have taken suo motu cognisance of a media report which claimed that in Pusaina village, "out of 300 families, 150 have widows in the age of 25-65, whose husbands died after consuming illicit liquor in the last 15 years."
The NHRC has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, indicate "failure" on part of the concerned authorities in taking lawful action against culprits, forcing the distraught families to lead miserable lives violating their rights to life, liberty and dignity.
The commission issued the notice to the chief secretary, seeking a detailed report in four weeks. The illegal business of hooch has been thriving in the area for years and no action seems to have been taken to address the issue, it said.
Recently, as many as 100 people died due to consumption of illicit liquor in Saharanpur and Kushinagar districts of Uttar Pradesh and Haridwar district of neighbouring Uttarakhand.
According to media reports, the hooch was suspected to have been made in villages near the Uttarakhand-Uttar Pradesh border, the commission said. "In Pusaina village there are families, which have lost more than one male member. The noxious alcoholic concoction, that sometimes comes mixed with deadly urea, battery fluid and chemicals, for an instant and extra high, is the main cause of deaths in such a large number," the statement said.
"Reportedly, local residents say, of these, 600-700 litres are manufactured in Pusaina village alone, right under the nose of police and the excise department. It is mentioned in the news report that usually 60-80 litres of liquor is consumed by the villagers per day and the remaining is supplied to the nearby villages and adjoining districts," it added.
"The village pradhan has also stated that the hooch business in the village has now declined, but it still continues. He has further mentioned that he tried to stop the illegal trade after many deaths but was threatened by the mafia," statement said.
"Even children aged 10 years, are involved in the trade, with the passage of time, they also become the consumers of the illicit liquor," it said.
As mentioned in the report, senior police official stated that they have been making sincere efforts to destroy the illegal business and have seized property worth Rs 11 crore from some of the kingpins of the liquor mafia. The police also conducting raids to destroy the network, it said.