Police in Andhra Pradesh’s Prakasam district on Monday said they have identified at least 235 persons who have become addicted to consuming sanitisers due to non-availability of alcohol. Last week, 16 people in the district’s Kurichedu mandal died after consuming sanitizer in lieu of alcohol.
SP Siddharth Kaushal said police on Sunday identified 35 persons and another 200 on Monday who have been consuming sanitisers. “We are in the process of identifying more people. It is an ongoing process and we are in continuous engagement with them, counselling them and telling them about the dangers of consuming sanitisers,” he said.
As most of the areas in Kurichedu, Darsi and Vinukonda mandals have been identified as containment zones, all the liquor shops in these areas have been shut. Due to non-availability of liquor, several people who are addicted to alcohol have turned to consuming sanitisers.
Teams of police personnel, led by Kaushal, are going door to door in the three mandals to find out if any of the family members are consuming sanitisers. A large number of used and unused bottles have been seized.
The SP said, “Till a few days ago, if liquor shops in one area were closed, they remained open in other areas. But it is a unique situation here as all the liquor shops in the three mandals are closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. There are a large number of liquor addicts in the area who drink daily. A beggar gave them the idea of consuming sanitisers. While gel sanitisers are costly, the liquid is very cheap compared to liquor.”
Police officials are seizing the sanitisers from the addicts and are providing counselling to them. “We are informing them how the harmful chemicals can cause death in a few days. All those who are now consuming sanitiser are extremely poor daily-wagers, beggars or labourers,” Deputy SP K Prakash Rao said.
Officials said that a ‘sanitiser’ party was held in Kurichedu last week. “Two persons who died last week had hosted a sanitiser party on July 29 for some relatives who had come to visit them from Guntur. They consumed a lot of sanitiser mixed with water or soft drinks,” an official said.
A special investigation team has also been set up to investigate the deaths that occurred in Kurichedu as well as availability and sale of cheap sanitisers in large numbers.
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