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37 die after drinking toxic liquor in Tamil Nadu

37 die after drinking toxic liquor in Tamil Nadu

International Desk

Thirty-seven people have died after consuming toxic liquor in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu's Kallakurichi district, around 250km from state capital Chennai.

At least 55 others, who reportedly consumed the toxic liquor over the past few days, have been hospitalised. Eighteen of them have been shifted to JIPMER in Puducherry and six to the Medical College and Hospital in Salem. Many of these victims were from Karunapuram area.

A woman who lost her son said, "He complained of severe stomach ache and difficulty to open his eyes. He said he had consumed arrack. Initially, the hospital refused to admit him, saying he's drunk. The state government should shut all liquor shops."

Another mother said, "My son suffered excruciating stomach pain. He could neither see nor hear. This shouldn't happen to anyone. Stop selling liquor."

The police have arrested a suspected bootlegger and detained two others.

Confirming that these deaths were caused due to consumption of toxic liquor, a senior police officer told NDTV, "We are investigating what exactly they consumed. We have taken three people into custody. At least three of the four people who died had consumed liquor supplied by private people, not procured from the government-run liquor shops."

In a statement, the state government said 26 people had taken arrack from packets and added that forensic investigation had confirmed the presence of poisonous methanol.

The state government has suspended district police chief Samay Singh Meena and appointed Rajat Chaturvedi in his place. Collector Sravan Kumar Jatavath has been replaced by MS Prasanth.

A deputy superintendent of police-rank officer of prohibition enforcement wing, three inspectors, and as many sub-inspectors were suspended.

The state government also transferred the probe into the toxic liquor tragedy to CB-CID.

Chief Minister MK Stalin said in a post on X that he is shocked and pained about the loss of lives. "The accused have been arrested. Action has been taken against officials who failed to prevent this. We will crack down with an iron hand. If public complain about such perpetrators, action would be taken."

He has asked two ministers, including Health Minister Ma Subramaniam, to rush to Kallakurichi and ensure every possible medical help to the affected people.

The chief minister has announced an inquiry by Justice (retd) B Gokuldas, a retired judge of Madras High Court. A compensation of ₹10 lakh will be provided to the families of each of the victims.

Stalin had ordered the arrest of illegal liquor brewers, methanol seller and destruction of methanol.

Disturbing reports started emerging Wednesday after three people died in different locations over the past three days.

Despite a buzz that the deaths may have been caused by toxic liquor, District Collector Sravan Kumar Jatavath initially denied such reports.

"These deaths have happened over three days. One of them was a teetotaller and one of them had a stomach problem. No one died in the hospital, and none came in an inebriated condition. In the commotion, someone said illicit liquor and it spread. We are investigating," he said.

This tragedy is being seen as a huge failure by intelligence agencies and the prohibition enforcement wing. Last year, too, 22 people died in Tamil Nadu after consuming methanol.

AIADMK chief and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Edappadi K Palaniswami slammed the ruling DMK for and said the state government failed to curb the toxic liquor problem even after he pointed out.

"I urge Chief Minister MK Stalin to take stringent action to curb toxic liquor instead of word play like last time, when they called it methanol and not toxic liquor."

State BJP chief K Annamalai said DMK had not "learnt its lesson" after 22 deaths due to consumption of toxic liquor last year.

Governor RN Ravi, whose tenure has seen several face-offs between the ruling party and the Raj Bhavan, posted on X, "This reflects continuing lapses in preventing production and consumption of illicit liquor. It is a matter of serious concern."

Source: NDTV

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