Suspected hooch tragedy in Surat has claimed six lives, so far, in two days. While forensic tests have confirmed presence of toxic methanol in the blood of two deceased, reports of the others were still awaited. The city police have asked doctors to report to them any suspected case of methanol or any other form of alcohol poisoning.
The first three deaths were reported on Monday evening. While forensic tests confirmed the deaths of Kirit Sinh Vaghela (28) and Pradeep Vaidh (30) due to consumption of spurious liquor, the report of Tenaji Thakor (30), who was suffering from lung cancer, was awaited. All the three were residents of Katargam area, and had consumed liquor Sunday evening.
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Katargam police had registered two different complaints against unknown persons into the deaths of Kirit Vaghela and Pradeep Vaid under the Prohibition Act Sections 65 (A), (B), (C), (D), (E), (F), and 66 (1) (B). This is the second time Surat police have used the Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Act, which entails death penalty or life imprisonment on conviction of the accused.
The police also carried out checkings in the government hospital and till Tuesday afternoon, reported four more deaths due to suspected consumption of spurious liquor. The deceased have been identified as Sagar Vagh (24), resident of Limbayat, Shivchandra Kapad (23), a resident of Dindoli, Ashok Vaghela (24), a resident of Katargam and Hitesh Gondalia (28), a resident of Varachha area. One Parkash Rathod (25), a resident of Katargam, is undergoing treatment at the ICU ward of New Civil hospital.
Police sources said Prakash had consumed liquor at some place and he started vomiting on Tuesday afternoon, following which his family members brought him to the hospital for treatment.
Surat police commissioner Satish Sharma has given orders to all police stations in the city to check private and government hospitals in their areas and find out how many patients showing the symptoms of consumption of spurious liquor have been admitted. Apart from this, the police commissioner handed over the investigation into the incident to the crime branch.
Surat city police and crime branch sleuths carried out raids at different places in the city, and have detained as many as 31 suspected bootleggers both males and females, and seized liquor from their possession. The police have sent samples from the seized country-made liquor to the forensic laboratory to check the presence of Methanol.
Talking to The Indian Express, Sharma said, “We have sent our teams to different hospitals today and found out five suspected cases of methanol toxicity.One is with New Civil Hospital and four are with SMIMER Hospital. The blood samples of all of them have been sent to FSL. Till now, two deaths due to the consumption of methanol have been confirmed. We are awaiting the post-mortem reports of the rest. The crime branch has seized country-made liquor from Katargam area and also filed two cases… We are also looking for the supplier and for that our teams are interrogating the local bootleggers.”