Six people died and at least 20 others were taken ill after consuming spurious liquor in the district, prompting the Yogi Adityanath government to order a high-level probe to look into all angles including possibility of a political conspiracy, officials said Tuesday.
Four members of a family are said to be among those who died in the incident that took place on Monday night.
Heads rolled after the incident with authorities suspending 10 excise and two police officials.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for each of the deceased and ordered a high-level probe to look into all angles, including political conspiracy and submit a report within 48 hours, UP government spokesperson and cabinet minister Siddhart Nath Singh said.
Locals belonging to Raniganj and adjoining villages consumed liquor purchased from a shop in Ramnagar area on Monday night and were rushed to Ramnagar Community Health Centre (CHC) after they were taken ill early Tuesday morning, police said.
At least 16 of those taken ill have been referred to the King George Medical University Hospital in Lucknow where they were undergoing dialysis while 5-6 others were being brought to Balrampur and Ram Manohar Lohia hospitals in Lucknow, Singh said.
He said directives have been issued to ensure all possible medical facilities to those undergoing treatment in hospitals.
UP Excise Minister Jai Pratap Singh said the excise commissioner, joint and deputy commissioners have rushed to the spot and further information was awaited.
District Excise Officer, Barabanki, Shiv Narayan Dube, Excise Inspector Ramtirath Maurya, three head constables and five constables of the excise department have been suspended with immediate effect, the excise minister said.
Police Circle Officer Pawan Gautam and Station House Officer Rajesh Kumar Singh have also been suspended on charges of dereliction of duty.
The chief minister has taken serious note of the incident and directed senior officials to take stern action against all those found guilty, a senior government official said.
The chief minister has set up a high-level committee comprising Commissioner and IG (Ayodhya) and Excise Commissioner to probe into the incident to fix responsibility and identify lax employees.
The committee will also look into any political conspiracy angle into the Barabanki incident as had been seen in some incidents of similar nature in the past, Singh said.
After a major hooch tragedy in two adjoining districts in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh earlier this year that claimed around 100 lives, Adityanath had suggested the involvement of the Samajwadi Party in "such mischievous acts" and had warned of stern action against all those found involved in illicit liquor trade even if they were associated with any political party.
"In the past too, such types of mischievous acts by SP leaders had come to the fore. In Azamgarh, Hardoi, Kanpur and Barabanki, SP leaders were found to be involved in past hooch tragedies. We can't deny conspiracy this time too," Adityanath had told reporters in the aftermath of the tragedy in Saharanpur in February.