Tainted booze in India kills 85 people, sickens hundreds

Victims receiving medical treatment at Jorhat hospital after allegedly drinking toxic bootleg liquor in Assam's Golaghat district on Feb 22 2019

Victims receiving medical treatment at Jorhat hospital after allegedly drinking toxic bootleg liquor in Assam's Golaghat district on Feb 22 2019

The victims of one of the most deadly bootleg liquor-related incidents in India were mostly tea plantation workers in Golaghat and Jorhat districts in Assam state, said top police official Mukesh Agarwal. The toll is likely to mount as condition of some victims in hospitals was stated to be critical.

Many Indian states have implemented or pushed for prohibition, which, according to critics, further increases the unsupervised manufacture and sale of alcohol.

Another 50 people have been sickened by the liqour, Sonowal said, which was laced with methyl alcohol, a chemical that attacks the central nervous system.

"It is a case of alcohol poisoning, and it has affected a few tea gardens and villages surrounding them in this district", said Partha Pratim Saikia, a senior police official in Assam.

Most of the victims of Assam hooch tragedy are poor labourers, working in the tea estates of Golaghat and Jorhat districts.

At Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, as many as 20 people - nine women and 11 men - have died.

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According to health department officials 46 people died in JMCH, 35 in Golaghat civil hospital and four in Titabor sub-divisional hospital.

Some people who consumed the brew, a hooch called "sulai", usually made from jaggery and ethyl alcohol, are suffering from vomiting, stomach pains and convulsions. Two persons were arrested in connection with the tragedy on Friday.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal ordered an investigation into the incidents. Following the deaths, authorities suspended several officials and have started a crackdown on illicit liquor manufacturing units and sales points.

Locals alleged that the liquor was supplied from outside. He inquired about the health of those undergoing treatment, while expressed condolences to the families of the deceased.

In order to ensure that there is no shortage of doctors in attending to the patients, medical professionals have been rushed to Jorhat and Golaghat from Assam Medical College Hospital, Dibrugarh, Gauhati Medical College Hospital, and Tezpur Medical College Hospital, Sonitpur. The Telegraph had said consumption of hooch is a habit with most tea garden laborers.

This is said to be the second major hooch tragedy in the country within a fortnight.

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