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Police carried out more than 100 raids, confiscating supplies of the suspected liquor and making 25 arrests.

India: death of dozens due to drinking poisoned alcohol

Source – BBC , The Hindu
At least 86 people have died in recent days as a result of drinking illegally-made alcohol, officials in the northern Indian state of Punjab say.

On Saturday, police carried out more than 100 raids, confiscating supplies of the suspected liquor and making 25 arrests.

The number of dead has steadily risen in the last few days. Hundreds of people die in India each year after drinking bootleg alcohol from backstreet distilleries.

On Friday, Punjab’s Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered an inquiry into the deaths. Reports suggest the illegal liquor may have been produced in bulk, sold to roadside cafe owners and then distributed to local communities.

The case follows reports on Friday of the deaths of 10 people – said to have alcohol addictions – who drank hand sanitiser in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Deaths from illegally produced alcohol, which is much cheaper than branded spirits, are common in parts of rural India.

Bootleggers often add methanol – a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an anti-freeze – to their mixture to increase its strength.

The Chief Minister also ordered the suspension of, and inquiry against, seven Excise and Taxation Officers and Inspectors, along with two Deputy Superintendents of Police and four Station House Officer of Punjab Police in connection with the hooch tragedy

“Strict action will be taken against any public servant or others found complicit in the case,” said the CM, describing the Punjab Police and Excise Department’s failure to check the manufacture and sale of spurious liquor as “shameful”. He was speaking at a Facebook Live interaction event.

According to the Excise Commissioner, though reports of the chemical analysis of the material seized in Friday’s raids were yet to come, a superficial check showed that the material was denatured spirit, generally used in the paint and hardware industries.

If ingested in even small quantities, methanol can cause blindness, liver damage and death.

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