Toxic liquor kills dozens in India’s ‘dry state’ of Gujarat | News

At least 28 die and 60 others become ill from consuming spurious liquor in the western state where sale and consumption of alcohol are banned.

At least 28 people have died and 60 others became ill from consuming toxic liquor in western India’s Gujarat state, officials have said.

Senior government official Mukesh Parmar on Tuesday said the deaths occurred in the Ahmedabad and Botad districts of the state.

The manufacture, consumption and sale of alcohol are banned in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state. There are some government-authorised liquor shops where residents with special health permits and foreigners can buy alcohol.

Critics say the alcohol ban encourages peddling of illegal and often tainted liquor that is brewed without any regulation.

The victims in Gujarat were mostly villagers, police officials said.

Preliminary laboratory tests indicated that chemicals including methanol were present in the liquor mix, regional police official Ashok Kumar Yadav said. A large amount of suspected spurious alcohol has been seized in raids.

India illicit liquor
A road roller is used to destroy seized liquor bottles in Ahmedabad, Gujarat [File: Ajit Solanki/AP]

Ashish Gupta, Gujarat state’s police chief, said several suspected bootleggers who were involved in selling the spiked alcohol have been arrested.

“We have taken the incident very seriously and a detailed investigation has been launched,” Gujarat’s home secretary Raj Kumar said.

The tragedy first came to light when villagers who consumed the liquor on Sunday night were admitted into hospitals in the area early on Monday.

There are at least 30 people in a serious condition being treated, NDTV news channel reported.

Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol, popularly called hooch or country liquor, are common in India, where illicit liquor is cheap and often spiked with chemicals such as pesticides to increase potency, making it a hugely profitable industry.

This is the second major incident in which spurious liquor has caused a large number of deaths in the past year. In November, more than 30 people died in the eastern state of Bihar, where, like Gujarat, there is an alcohol ban.

In 2020, at least 120 people died after drinking tainted liquor in Punjab state that neighbours Gujarat.

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