More than 550 litres of country liquor was recovered on 20 August, during a search operation launched in Khajurwani ward of Gopalganj town where 16 persons died in a suspected toxic liquor incident early this week.
The search operation in which JCB machines are being used to dig the earth for hidden plastic containers of "mahua" (country liquor) is continuing today, District Magistrate Rahul Kumar told PTI.Meanwhile, Lalbabu Passi, said to be the main accused in the suspected toxic liquor tragedy has been arrested by Deoria in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, Officer In-charge of town police station Santosh Kumar said.
Passi had fled to Deoria after the incident. The Gopalganj District Magistrate said he has sought a proposal from the excise department for imposition of "collective fine" on residents of Khajurwani ward whereas media reports suggest that the liquor trade continues despite total prohibition.
The official said there are 56 households in Khajurwani and the excise department has been directed to survey households involved in the preparation of country liquor so that a collective fine can be imposed on them as per provisions of new Liquor law, 2016, of Bihar.
Principal Secretary Excise KK Pathak who paid a visit to Gopalganj in the wake of the incident has said that if the hooch is confirmed, the property of the culprits will be attached as part of stringent provisions of the new liquor law.
The Gopalganj district magistrate discounted soaring figures presented by the media in Wednesday's tragedy and said officially the death toll stood at 16.
Meanwhile, Madhepura MP and chief of Janadhikar Party Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav slammed the Nitish Kumar government over the Gopalganj tragedy before leaving for the place to meet the families of the victims.
Talking to reporters in Patna, Pappu Yadav described the new Excise law as a "black law" and said within two weeks he would file a writ in the Supreme Court against it.