Hooch snuffs out 128 lives in Bengal

Over 300 people, mostly rickshaw pullers and labourers, hospitalised after consuming spurious liquor; CM Mamata Banerjee orders a CID probe

In less than a week, West Bengal suffered another major blow as 128 people, mostly rickshaw pullers, labourers and hawkers, died and over 100 were hospitalised after consuming spurious liquor.

The victims, who had visited some illegal liquor dens near Sangrampur railway station, were mostly from the poorest sections of society.

Tragedy: Relatives of victims mourn the death of their kin at the
Sangram Nagar village near Diamond Harbour. Most victims died of
cardio-respiratory failure due to methyl poisoning. Pic/AFP

"So far 128 people have died," said Shikha Adhikari, chief medical officer of the district. A health official said the victims died of cardio-respiratory failure due to methyl poisoning. Most victims belonged to Usthi, Mandirbazar and Magrahat police station areas.

Official sources said more people have been admitted to hospitals since Wednesday evening. With patients still coming in, the toll was likely to rise.

The Diamond Harbour Sub-Divisional Hospital has been earmarked as the nodal treatment centre for those taken ill after drinking the liquor. "Altogether 327 people were brought to this hospital. Of them 35 were declared brought dead, 68 died in the hospital. Twenty five died in other hospitals, including those in Kolkata, where they were referred," Adhikari said.

"Joint raids by police, CID officials and excise department personnel are on to nail the culprits," said District Police Superintendent LN Meena.

A manhunt has been launched to nab prime suspect Khora Badshah, a known bootlegger. "So far, eight people have been arrested for supplying moonshine in the area," she added.

The opposition Left Front has decided to take out a condolence rally from Sangrampur railway station. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered a CID probe into the deaths. The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the families of the dead.

Rs 2 lakh
The amount that the state government has announced as compensation for the family of each victim

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