The death toll in the Malwani hooch tragedy reached 97 Sunday, with 46 persons still under treatment at various hospital in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police Crime Branch Sunday arrested two more persons in the case, taking the total number of arrests to seven, and seized more than 1,000 litres of spurious liquor from the house of one of the five accused arrested earlier.
According to Crime Branch officers, the two arrested Sunday are Mamta Rathod (30) and Agnes Gracy (50), both residents of Malwani, who were running liquor dens in shanties in the slum. They were picked up from Malad Sunday afternoon, and were placed under arrest in the evening after questioning.
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“Both the accused used to buy the spurious liquor from Francis D’Mello, one of the five accused arrested earlier, and would then sell it. We are now interrogating D’Mello about the source and supply routes of the liquor,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni.
A Crime Branch officer added, “On Sunday, we searched D’Mello’s residence and found around 1,100 litres of spurious liquor in several barrels. The sheer quantity of the liquor suggests a large-scale and highly organised racket, and we are probing further.”
“The hooch was brought through the sea route by the main accused, identified so far as Raju. We suspect it was brewed either near the creeks of Bhayander or on the Madh or Gorai islands in Mumbai,” said a senior officer, adding, “The liquor was packaged in bottles for sale, which further suggests an organised racket.”
Police officers said no new patient was admitted to hospitals after Saturday afternoon, and some of the patients showing mild symptoms of chemical poisoning had been discharged after their condition stabilised.
Dr K G Pimpre, medical superintendent at Kandivali Shatabdi hospital where two of the three patients admitted are critical and on ventilator, said, “The reason for such a high fatality is that they were all attended to late. By the time these people realised that something severe is happening, the metabolic acidosis had aggravated.”
Metabolic acidosis is a condition in which the acid produced inside the body increases beyond the kidney’s ability to flush it out. It can lead to coma or death, according to doctors.
Meanwhile, the state government has announced an aid of Rs 1 lakh to the family of each of the deceased. The aid will be provided from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund Monday.
Vinod Tawde, Guardian Minister of the Mumbai Suburban district, announced this during a visit to the victims’ families in Malad. Tawde also assured these families that the government would try to provide employment for one family member of each victim.
Tawde met the families at 4.30 pm Sunday, after holding a review meeting with Suburban Collector Shekhar Channe, Additional Commissioner of Police Fattesinh Patil and other senior officials from the revenue department. Tawde directed the officials to take strict action against the people selling spurious liquor.