21 June, 2021

The Unholy Spirits

Kollam's liquor deaths point to a murky politician-cartel-cop nexus

The Unholy Spirits
Last fortnight's illicit liquor tragedy in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts brought into focus the nexus between politicians, the police and the powerful cartel that operates the illegal trade in Kerala. As many as 35 people were killed after consuming spurious liquor laced with lethal methyl alcohol. The killer brew was traced to supply centres run by an influential cartel of liquor barons operating from Attingal near Thiruvananthapuram on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. And although the kingpins responsible for supplying the toxic arrack went underground, the police did manage to zero in on Hairunnisa, owner of the retail outlet where the poisonous brew was served.
Hairunnisa sparked a spiralling political controversy when she divulged details of cash contributions made to political parties and politicians on either side of the coalition divide. The focus then shifted from retailer to supplier when she claimed the liquor came from stocks stored in the godowns of bigtime abkari (liquor contractor) S. Chandran, popularly known as Manichan, said to be close to political...

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