The death toll in the Hooch tragedy in Marakkanam and Chengalpattu may rise. So far there are 17 deaths. 12 in Marakkanam and 5 in Chengalpattu. 37 victims are in treatment in Jipmer. Some of them may lose their eyesight. Without even ascertaining facts, CM announced a relief of 10 lakhs to the deceased and 50,000 to the injured. Stalin’s able intelligence wing sleuths bungled, and an accused in the hooch tragedy got himself admitted and received 50,000 compensation. His name also figures in the FIR in this connection.
Such is the state of the TN police. A Chief Minister need not and should not visit the scene of a crime or hospital in a hooch tragedy. What could he tell the injured ? Drink my nutritious drink in TASMAC ?
Not even a single sane officer is around MK Stalin to guide him properly. Being a mediocre and reluctant leader he not only fails to rise to the occasion but also fails to assess officers properly. He is not able to identify the right person for the job and is entirely dependent on a couple of IAS officers and his close friend Raja Shankar. Each one pulls in each direction. The result is an indecisive Chief Minister who cannot take any decisions on his own. The result is chaos.
The ADMK had a well-oiled system that was impregnable by spurious liquor manufacturers. Each Taluk will be assigned to an ADMK office bearer. A Taluk normally comprises 7 to 10 TASMAC outlets. All the outlets will have an illegal bar, and the collection from the said bar will go to the ADMK office bearer. 3 out of 10 TASMAC outlets will be given to the local DMK men to avoid any conflicts.
The ADMK office bearer is fully responsible for ensuring that no illicit or spurious arrack makes an entry. If any illicit or spurious liquor is found in his limits, he will lose his rights to run a Bar and he thus carries the responsibility of preventing illicit liquor. The ADMK man who runs the bar may sell liquor after permissible hours; overcharge customers; or sell on dry days. But such mistakes are condoned so that he prevents illicit liquor.
Whenever any ADMK office bearer is caught smuggling liquor of another state or spurious liquor he will be booked without any hesitation. An ADMK Minister was running a spurious liquor unit in his limits. State intelligence gathered the details and submitted it to CM Edappadi Palanisamy. EPS promptly called the minister and instructed him either to close the unit or resign. The minister shut down the unit immediately.
After DMK came to power, MK Stalin almost shirked his overall responsibility and has allowed a free run to all Ministers. Among the Ministers Senthil Balaji commands huge clout with the family and the entire family dances to his tunes. He is paying unimaginable amounts as family share and almost all are in awe of him.
Senthil Balaji, after he was made TASMAC Minister, introduced the notorious “Karur Gang”. Karur gang is headed by Eswaramurthy of Coimbatore. This Karur gang not only controls all the licensed and unlicensed bars across the state but also extorts the TASMAC employees to collect Rs. 2 extra per bottle from customers. Those who fail to toe the Karur Gang’s line are either transferred to faraway shops with less income or placed under suspension.
The Karur gang comprising rowdy elements were threatening TASMAC employees and the Chief Minister turned a deaf year to the complaints. Now, the Karur gang has almost brought the entire TASMAC employees in line and they do pay Rs.2/- per bottle based on everyday sales which is regularly monitored by the Karur gang.
The bars which ruling party men hitherto controlled were brought under Karur Gang and DMK party men are paid a pittance to keep them silent. DMK party men do not have any say in the TASMAC bars. Since they get some money periodically, and understand the clout of Senthil Balaji, they become mute. Further now they do not have any responsibility to monitor illicit arrack or out-of-the-counter sales.
Since the bars are controlled by the agents of Senthil Balaji, they are least concerned about illicit arrack.
The Prohibition Enforcement Wing, which monitored and prevented illicit arrack was merged with the Narcotics Intelligence Bureau to create the Enforcement Bureau CID. Stalin, who claimed that this move was to fight drugs would be ruing the moment he took that call.
The Prohibition Enforcement Wing has three SP level officers. For the North zone alone Senthil Kumar is the SP. Similarly, the TN police have an exclusive intelligence gathering unit called the “Central Intelligence Unit”. This is headed by an SP named Jayanthi.
The job of both Senthil Kumar and Jayanthi is to monitor and prevent sale and distillation of illicit liquor. But both were sleeping like most of the other units of TN police.
If at all anyone should have been suspended it is IG North Zone Kannan, PEW North SP Senthil Kumar and CIU SP Jayanthi.
In May last year, Kannan IPS, former Addl CoP South, Chennai was transferred as a punishment for registering a case against Vikatan, and a few others on the complaint of G Square. This FIR caused much embarrassment to the government, and he was sent to Armed Reserve following the controversy. No one knew what transpired in between; Kannan was posted as IG North Zone in just five months.
What happened to the embarrassment he caused the government five months ago? No one has a clue. Kannan is a scorchingly corrupt officer, and the present hooch tragedy happened in his jurisdiction. He should have been placed on suspension. But alas ! MK Stalin chose Villupuram SP Shreenatha IPS to be placed under suspension.
To understand the rot that is setting into police, let us see how the police handled this hooch tragedy.
Four days back, people residing in Marakkanam started complaining of uneasiness, vomiting and thronged the hospitals. The police got wind of this development and picked up an accused named Amaran. He was handed over to two PEW unit Sub-Inspectors Sivagurunathan and Deepan.
At this juncture, Villupuram DMK Town Secretary Ravikumar intervened and ensured that the arrack seller Amaran is released on his own bail. Both the Sub Inspectors received 15,000 rupees each as bribe and released the accused on bail. After people started dying, the same Amaran was arrested again and sent for remand.
Two Sub-Inspectors of police, knowing well that people are going to hospitals after consuming spurious liquor, and knowing well that something is wrong with the liquor, received bribes and let off the accused. Twenty years ago, an SI wouldn’t even dream of doing this. This is the kind of deep rot that is setting in in the Tamil Nadu police.
Speaking about the Hooch tragedy, former ADMK Prohibition Minister Thangamani had this to say. “The total failure of police administration has led to this. During Amma’s tenure and Annan EPS’s tenure, we were very keen that not even a single drop of illicit liquor should enter Tamil Nadu. Illicit arrack will not only cause revenue loss to the government but may also lead to people losing their vision. What will a person from a poor household do if he loses sight? It is unimaginable.
Similarly, both Amma and Annan EPS also prevented the smuggling of cheap arrack, liquor from adjacent Pondicherry. Regular searches by police, excise and revenue officials were done during our tenure.
The present hooch tragedy and the handling of the same by the government show that the official machinery is slowly breaking down”.
Launching a scathing attack on the DMK for the hooch tragedy, LoP Edappadi Palanisamy said CM Stalin is ‘inept and a puppet CM’ and demanded his resignation. He said, “DMK promised rivers of milk and honey if they came to power, but alcohol is flowing”.
In a knee-jerk reaction after the hooch deaths, Sylendra Babu, issued a press release which claimed the destruction of 19,028 litres of illicit liquor and 4943 litres of brew were destroyed. Sources in police department say, this figure is fudged, and 25,000 litres of illicit liquor could not have been destroyed in two days. Normally, the police, whenever they seize such huge quantities of liquor release videos and images of the seizure and destruction. No supporting evidence was released for the 25K litres of illicit / spurious liquor.
This aside, even if the claim of Sylendra Babu is taken at face value, 2 days of illicit liquor stock is 25K litres, then what EPS says is right. It is only illicit liquor that is flowing like a river.
Another question that begs an answer is, if the police can destroy 25k litres of illicit arrack in two days, what were they doing hitherto ?Sylendra Babu, did not respond to our queries in this regard.
The two year misrule of MK Stalin has done unimaginable damage not only to the police but to almost all departments in the government of Tamil Nadu. Stalin’s inefficiency and his extreme dependance on a handful of IAS & IPS officers is causing havoc on the state.
Now one can understand why Karunandhi did not hand over the mantle to Stalin till his death. He knew.