16 more die in Uttar Pradesh, toll rises to 43 in hooch tragedy

At least 16 more people died late on Friday in Uttar Pradesh after drinking illicitly brewed liquor, taking the death toll to 43 in the state and neighbouring Uttarakhand even as 11 victims continued to be critical, officials said Saturday.

The latest deaths come after at least 39 people died in several villages of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand after they consumed country liquor between Wednesday and Thursday. The deaths were reported between Thursday and Friday from villages in Haridwar district of Uttarakhand, and Saharanpur and Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh.

Dr Harshwardhan, medical officer (casualty) at Meerut Medical College Hospital, said the victims started coming to the hospital at around 11pm on Friday and seven of them were declared brought dead.

He said nine critically ill people died during treatment and 11 have been kept under observation and that doctors are providing the best possible treatment. Earlier, the number of dead in Uttarakhand was put at 13 while 40 others were in hospital. Saharanpur, bordering Uttarakhand, reported 18 deaths and Kushinagar nine.

Saharanpur’s district magistrate Alok Kumar Pandey said on Friday that people from Umahi, Sarbatpur, Mali and Salempur villages of Nangal and Gagalheri area had drunk spurious liquor in Balupur village of neighbouring Haridwar district after attending a 13th-day funeral rite.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered a probe into the incident and announced Rs 2 lakh ex gratia to the families of those who died and Rs 50 thousand each for those undergoing treatment.

Meanwhile, Saharanpur’s senior superintendent of police Dinesh Kumar P suspended the inspector of Nangal police station along with two sub-inspectors and four constables. He also suspended one sub-inspector and two constables of Gagalheri police station.

District magistrate Pandey also recommended the suspension of excise inspectors of Sadar and Deoband area and district excise officer of Saharanpur for negligence in discharging their duties.

Sale and consumption of spurious liquor are rampant in rural districts across the country, as illegal brewers run fly-by-night operations to evade hefty levies and taxes. The harm comes from methanol content, which can increase in liquor that is not brewed properly. Methanol is also added in trace amounts to increase the potency of liquor.

First Published: Feb 09, 2019 10:30 IST

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