At least 12 people have died and another eight to 10 have been hospitalised after consuming spurious liquor in Morena district of Madhya Pradesh, The Times of India reported. Victims began coming to government hospitals after consuming the alcohol on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday.

The area station house officer and the district excise officer have been suspended after the incident was reported.

Morena Superintendent of Police Anurag Sujania said that they have arrested one person in connection with the case and have registered a first information report against seven people, according to ANI.

Eleven people from Morena’s Manpur Prithwi and Pahawali villages have died so far,” Inspector General of the Chambal Range Manoj Sinha told NDTV earlier in the day. “We are waiting for the autopsy report to ascertain the actual cause of deaths.”

The inspector general of Chambal Range said that the police were making efforts to track down the source of the liquor – a distillery or local manufacturing unit. The police were also trying to find out the other villages where the liquor may have been supplied, he said.

“We are trying to prevent further distribution and sale of the same liquor by tracking and arresting the suspects as early as possible,” the police officer added.

A few people from the Manpur Prithwi village had fallen ill after consuming the liquor on Sunday. The number of those who fell sick rose on Monday after people from neighbouring Pahawali village started showing signs of alcohol poisoning.

Those affected were taken to the Morena district hospital. After this, they were referred to a hospital in the Gwalior district, as their condition deteriorated.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the case was being investigated, and strict action will be taken against the accused. “The inquiry is on in the Morena fake liquor tragedy,” the chief minister said. “The district excise officer has been suspended due to the lack of supervision in the case.”

State Home Minister Narottam Mishra expressed sadness about the incident. “Station house officer has been suspended immediately,” he said. “Senior officials have reached the site. A team will investigate the matter. Accused won’t be spared.”

This is not the first such incident in the state. In October, over 11 people had died after consuming illicit liquor in Ujjain. Two police constables among others were arrested over the incident. In May, four people had died and two others fell ill after allegedly consuming spurious liquor in Ratlam district.

In neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, four people had died in November because of the consumption of spurious liquor. Similarly in Punjab, at least 86 died owing to the same reasons.

During the countrywide lockdown when the sale of liquor was prohibited, many in Bhopal and Andhra Pradesh’s Prakasam district had resorted to consuming hand sanitisers.