Scores dead after consuming bootleg liquor


At least 64 deaths were reported on Saturday from Saharanpur and Haridwar - adjoining districts of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand states respectively - after drinking the poisonous liquor.

Health officials in India are now having a tough time attending to patients after no less than 72 victims died consuming contaminated liquor.

The district magistrate of Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh, Alok Kumar Pandey, said last week that doctors had concluded many victims died "due to liver infection and problems in their respiratory system".

The death toll had stood at 99 on Saturday.

Reports said police teams during the crackdown have seized 9,269 liters of hooch in Uttar Pradesh and detained over 150 people for questioning.

"We won't spare the guilty", UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath told Hindustan Times.

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"This is preliminary stage of investigation and people are being brought for questioning but it will be decided later as to against whom the cases will be registered", a senior police official said. Police officials said viscera examination on more bodies was yet to be conducted to find out if these too were alcohol-related deaths.

Several officials associated with excise and police departments have been suspended.Police are conducting raids to tighten noose around illicit liquor vendors. In a separate incident, 32 people died in the city of Haridwar, Uttarakhand.

An average of 1,000 people, mostly from poorer sections of society, die in India each year after consuming illegally brewed alcohol, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

In December 2011, hooch tragedy killed 172 people in West Bengal.

Authorities suspect bootleggers mixed the alcohol with methanol - a cheap but toxic form of alcohol - to increase the liquor's potency and their profit.