Legislators from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam were evicted from the Tamil Nadu Assembly after they staged a protest to demand a discussion on the deaths of at least 48 persons who had drunk spurious liquor in the Kallakurichi district, the Deccan Herald reported.

The toll increased to 48 on Thursday night after nine more persons lost their lives, The Hindu reported. Over 100 others were undergoing treatment at various hospitals.

The spurious liquor was bought from a vendor in the Karunapuram area of Kallakurichi town. After consuming the liquor, the patients complained of severe dizziness, headache, nausea, stomach pain, and eye irritation.

On Friday, MLAs of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam led by Opposition leader Edappadi K Palaniswami demanded that Question Hour be suspended and a discussion be held on the tragedy, the Deccan Herald reported.

Party MLAs, wearing black clothes, held placards and shouted slogans in the Assembly, and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister MK Stalin.

Speaker M Appavu told Palaniswami that he could raise the issue after Question Hour. However, the Opposition leaders continued to chant slogans. At one point, party legislators crowded around the speaker’s chair and began to protest, The Hindu reported.

Appavu then ordered the removal of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MLAs from the Assembly. They were later allowed to re-enter the session. But the party refrained from joining, according to the Deccan Herald.

Following their eviction, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader and state minister Duraimurugan said that the Opposition legislators could have raised the matter after the Question Hour, The Hindu reported.

“We are not against them raising the issue,” he said. “They have the right to raise it. I even said they could convey their message though it is against the rule of the House to do so before the Question Hour.”

On Thursday, Stalin said that action had been taken against the officials who failed to prevent the sale of the spurious liquor. The Tamil Nadu government directed the Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department to carry out an inquiry into the matter.

The police also arrested a man, identified as K Kannukutti, after nearly 200 litres of illegal liquor containing methanol was seized from him. High levels of methanol in liquor are toxic for human consumption.

Nine other police officers, including those from the Kallakurichi prohibition wing, were also suspended.