The toll from suspected spurious liquor consumption in Bihar’s West Champaran and Gopalganj districts increased to 24 on Thursday night, PTI reported. Eight people died in West Champaran’s Telhua village while the toll in Gopalganj increased to 16.
All the victims of Telhua village had allegedly consumed the liquor on Wednesday. In Gopalganj, at least nine of the 16 deaths have occurred since Tuesday. Four of the 24 people died while undergoing treatment at hospital. Two people died while they were being taken to the doctor.
Gopalganj Superintendent of Police Anand Kumar said that some people had died under “mysterious circumstances” in the district’s Muhammadpur village over the last two days. “The cause of their death cannot be confirmed as autopsy reports are still awaited,” he said. “Three teams are probing the case.”
Deputy Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Kumar Singh said four people have been arrested so far. The police have seized 30 pouches of “desi liquor” from the homes of two accused persons.
West Champaran Superintendent of Police Upendra Nath Verma said that investigation in the case is in progress, according to PTI. Senior officials of the district administration and police have been stationed at Telhua village.
Meanwhile, Bihar minister Janak Ram visited the homes of people who died after allegedly consuming spurious liquor. “It could be a conspiracy to defame the NDA [National Democratic Alliance] government,” he said.
Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav criticised the state government for failing to stop the sale and supply of spurious liquor in Bihar, PTI reported. “Police are disposing of the bodies of the dead without conducting the post-mortem of the dead,” he said. “Is Nitish Kumar, who is making tall claims on prohibition, not responsible for these deaths?”
In October, eight people had died in similar incidents in Muzaffarpur.
In Gopalganj, this is the second such major illicit liquor tragedy. In 2016, the number of residents who died after consuming spurious liquor was 21.
Nine people were sentenced to death and five others have been given life sentences in the case.