Seventy people have died after they drank spurious liquor in a village in Haridwar in Uttarakhand on Thursday night, PTI reported on Saturday, quoting officials. Twenty-four of the victims belong to the Haridwar district and the rest were from neighbouring Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.
Authorities are examining the viscera of some more people who died since Friday to ascertain if their deaths were also alcohol-related.
The victims had consumed liquor on Thursday evening at a terahvin function, held to mark the 13th day of mourning to mark a death, unidentified officials said.
The Saharanpur Police said first information reports have been registered at three police stations, ANI reported. “A crackdown was done by a team last night,” an official said. “At least 30 people have been arrested and 25 FIRs have been registered. More than 400 litres of illicit liquor was seized. The crackdown will continue until this is completely finished.”
Sub-inspector Shailendra Kumar Sharma told The Indian Express that local residents had consumed liquor in Balupur village of Haridwar and brought back some of it to Saharanpur. “On returning home, they distributed those packets among other villagers,” Sharma said. “On Friday early morning, those who consumed the liquor started vomiting and when their condition deteriorated, they were rushed to hospital.”
Ten policemen and four excise officials were suspended following the deaths in Saharanpur.
In a separate incident in Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, eight people have died in the past three days after allegedly drinking hooch, The Times of India reported. Kushinagar district magistrate said five policemen and six excise officials were suspended in connection with the incident and two people were arrested.
Chief Minister Adityanath has ordered a 15-day joint drive by excise and police officials against those involved in the production and distribution of spurious liquor. Adityanath has also announced Rs 2-lakh compensation for the families of those who died and Rs 50,000 each for those undergoing treatment.
Meanwhile in Banda district, the police conducted searches at several places and seized spurious liquor, ANI reported on Saturday. Assistant Superintendent of Police Lal Bharat Kumar said raids would also be conducted on Sunday.