The death toll in the Malwani hooch tragedy reached 102 on Monday. Meanwhile, interrogation of Francis D’mello, one of the seven accused arrested in the case, has revealed details indicating a highly organised racket, wherein the hooch was brought into Mumbai via a middleman and then dispersed among liquor den runners early morning.
According to Crime Branch officers, the death toll in the tragedy reached 102 by Monday afternoon, with 48 others admitted to various hospitals in Mumbai.
“Seven to eight of those under treatment are in a critical condition and have been put on ventilator support,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni.
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Around 150 residents of the Laxmi Nagar area in Malwani had consumed the spurious liquor being sold in various liquor dens in the locality last Wednesday. By Thursday morning, they started experiencing multiple health complications and the death toll, which was at 13 deaths on Thursday, climbed steadily and crossed 100 on Monday.
Several people approached the Crime Branch on Monday and said that they, too, had consumed the same liquor on Wednesday. The police got them admitted to hospitals for observation and treatment.
D’Mello, along with six others, was arrested by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch in connection with the sale of the spurious liquor which has so far claimed the lives of 102 Malwani residents.
The Crime Branch has so far arrested seven people in the case, including Francis D’Mello, from whose house the police recovered 1,100 litres of spurious liquor. The police said the hooch was stored in a hidden cavity in the wall near his bed. Samples will soon be sent to the Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Kalina, said officers.
“D’Mello, in his interrogation, has named a man from whom he says he would get the hooch. This man would buy the hooch from a supplier based in Maharashtra and bring it to Mumbai. Once in the city, it would be transported in cans in autorickshaws and handed over to several people, including D’Mello,” said a Crime Branch officer.
The officer added, “D’Mello would sell the hooch to liquor den runners in the area, including the six other arrested accused. The exchange would occur at secluded corners of the slum between 4 am to 6 am, when police presence on the streets is at a minimum. This is the time when policemen on night patrolling start leaving for the police station and are replaced by those on day duty.”
One of the two women arrested Sunday, Mamta, has been found to have a past criminal record in hooch selling, and has allegedly been in the business for the last 10 years, the police said.