Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Thursday questioned which ruling forces were protecting the mafia involved in the trade of spurious liquor and drugs in Gujarat.

Gandhi made the statement after 42 residents died in Gujarat after drinking spurious liquor earlier this week. Manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol are banned in the state.

The matter had come to light on Monday morning when some residents of Rojid village in Botad district had to be hospitalised after their health deteriorated.

Gujarat Director General of Police Ashish Bhatia said that the victims had consumed methyl alcohol, or methanol, an industrial chemical. Small doses of the compound can be fatal, according to The Methanol Institute, a trade association.

In a tweet on Thursday, Gandhi wrote that several families faced ill-fate in the “dry state” of Gujarat due to spurious liquor. He also pointed out that drugs worth billions have also been seized in the state on several occasions.

“It is a matter of great concern, on the land of Bapu [Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi] and Sardar [Vallabhbhai] Patel, who are these people who are doing drug business indiscriminately?” he asked. “Which ruling forces are giving protection to the mafia?”

Other political leaders have also held the Bharatiya Janata Party state government responsible for the deaths.

On Monday, the Congress had alleged that a nexus of bootleggers in Gujarat is aided by BJP leaders. “The police regularly take bribes from the bootleggers,” Congress leader Amit Chavda had said.

Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal had said that the ban on liquor in Gujarat was only on paper. He added that if his party is voted to power, the ban will be imposed strictly.

BJP leader Alpesh Thakore also had said that there was a need to implement the ban strictly. “I would urge the government to enforce the law strictly and stop the illegal flow of liquor in the state, particularly in the villages,” he had said.

So far, the police have arrested 15 persons in connection with the case. On Thursday, superintendents of police of Botad and Ahmedabad districts were transferred and six other officers suspended for dereliction of duty.

A day before that, Gujarat Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi had said that 97 persons were still being treated at hospitals in Bhavnagar, Botad and Ahmedabad.