The toll from consumption of spurious liquor in Assam’s Golaghat and Jorhat rose to at least 124 on Sunday, PTI reported. As many as 331 people have been admitted to hospital, government officials said.
The victims had all sourced the liquor from a tea garden worker identified as Sanjay Oran, who also died after consuming the local brew known as Sulai, on Thursday. The liquor is a rectified spirit brewed from fermented molasses or rice in Assam.
The police have arrested 12 people so far in connection with the case. This includes the owners of the hooch factory.
“The toll and the number of people admitted is changing minute to minute,” Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said. “Patients who had developed complications two to three days ago are coming now. Some who had consumed liquor earlier are coming for treatment after hearing the news of the hooch tragedy out of fear.” He said doctors from districts near Jorhat have been rushed to the city to treat the sick.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday announced Rs 2 lakh in compensation to the families of each of the deceased, and Rs 50,000 for those who have fallen sick. Sonowal also met the affected people at Jorhat Medical College Hospital. The chief minister ordered Upper Assam Division Commissioner of Police Julie Sonowal to investigate the matter.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party workers allegedly attacked Prabin Das, a resident of Golaghat who heads a committee that has demanded the prohibition of liquor in the state. Das had blamed the state excise department for its failure to check manufacturing of spurious liquor.
Congress blames Assam government, questions Modi
Congress President Rahul Gandhi blamed the BJP-led Assam government for the deaths. “The apathy and incompetence of the Assam government has resulted in the tragic deaths of over 140 people with scores of victims in hospital, poisoned by toxic alcohol,” he alleged in a tweet. “My condolences to the families of those who have died. I also pray that those in hospital make a speedy recovery.”
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the tragedy, ANI reported. “Modi keeps giving speeches from dawn to dusk but he neither mentioned about the tragedy nor scolded his own party’s government in the state for the tragedy,” Khera said. The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee has demanded that state Excise Minister Parimal Suklavaidya resign.