Assam hooch tragedy: Govt bans molasses, to look after orphaned children

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Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal interacting with those hospitalised after consuming spurious liquor in the Assam hooch tragedy. File Photo.

Guwahati, March 04: Following the hooch tragedy and its aftereffect which has resulted in the death of 158 people and over 500 affected, including women, in Jorhat and Golaghat district, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ordered ban on molasses in the state.

Chairing a high level meeting in the aftermath of the state’s worst hooch tragedy, Sonowal asked State Chief Secretary Alak Kumar to ban molasses in the state.

The ban has been necessitated as molasses are widely used to prepare sulai – an intoxicating drink.

The Assam Chief Minister also asked the Chief Secretary to direct the Deputy Commissioners to generate awareness in all the tea gardens and their periphery areas by conducting awareness meetings so that people can be made aware of the evils of consuming sulai.

Assam Excise department personnel destroy illegal country liquor.

The meeting also decided to extend government help for looking after all children who lost their parent or parents in hooch tragedy under Juvenile Justice Act.

Minister in-charge for Tea Tribes Welfare Pallab Lochan Das, Chief Minister’s Legal Advisor Santanu Bharali, Chief Secretary Alak Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary in charge of Labor Department Jishnu Baruah, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Sanjay Lohiya, and a host of senior officers from Revenue, Excise and Labor Departments were present on the occasion.

Assam hooch tragedy, which has claimed as many as 158 lives in Golaghat and Jorhat districts, has also left many orphaned.

The preliminary report prepared by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of Golaghat and Jorhat districts under the government run State Child Protection Society, revealed that 32 children of both districts have lost both of their parents to the hooch tragedy.

According to the report, 30 children were found alone in Golaghat district, the most affected district in the incident, where around 100 people have died after consuming spurious liquor.

The report revealed that, among the orphans, six are from the same family.

Golaghat district CWC chairperson Dr Lukumoni Goswami said that, during the ongoing survey, they have found 30 children, in the age group between 2-17 years, who lost both their parents.

“We have found 30 orphans, who lost both their parents, from Halmira tea estate and Gulampatti area. We have found them in very tragic situation. So far two children – a girl and her brother, have been rehabilitated to a Child Care Institution at Bokakhat area,” Lukumoni Goswami said.

Goswami further said that, in most cases, the relatives of the orphans are refusing to hand over them to the concerned authorities.

Following the incident, the Assam government has announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those who are hospitalised.

The CWC officials fear that the relatives of the orphans may be refusing to hand over the children to the authorities just because of government’s announcement to give ex-gratia to the kin of the deceased persons.