The death toll in the hooch tragedy that hit two adjoining districts in Uttarakhand’s Balupur and Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur has risen to 61 with more people dying of the spurious liquor they drank at a Haridwar village, officials said Saturday. Police said 36 of the Saharanpur deaths took place in the district itself. Eighteen victims, who among those were referred to Meerut for treatment, died at a hospital there.
Praveen Kumar, IG, Law and Order, said viscera have been preserved for lab tests after autopsy of 10 people did not confirm the deaths were caused due to consumption of spurious liquor.
The police did not rule out the possibility of food poisoning in a few cases and said they are waiting for the viscera report to reach any conclusion.
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh police and the state excise department Saturday conducted a statewide joint operation against spurious liquor traders. As many as 297 cases were registered and 175 people allegedly involved in the spurious liquor business, were arrested. Police also seized a large quantity of spurious liquor.
Saharanpur police said residents of Umahi, Salempur and Gaganledi villages had gone to Haridwar to take part in a tehravin ritual (the 13th day of mourning — to mark a death).
On Thursday, they consumed liquor at the event and some brought a few liquor packets back to Saharanpur. On returning, they distributed those packets to other villagers. On Friday early morning, those who consumed the liquor started vomiting and were rushed to the hospital by their families. Three cases have been registered under UP Excise Act. Saharanpur District Magistrate, A K Pandey said, “Thirty-six people have died and their postmortems have been conducted.”
Saharanpur SSP, Dinesh Kumar P said, “Doctors told us 36 deaths can be attributed to spurious liquor consumption based on its symptoms. However, cause of death can be confirmed only after chemical analysis report of viscera is obtained.”
In the last two days, 31 people were referred to Meerut Medical college for treatment.
Additional Superintendent of Police, Meerut, Kumar Ran Vijay Singh said, “Of 31 people who were sent to Meerut from Saharanpur for treatment, 18 have died. Thirteen others are being treated at Meerut Medical College,” said Ran Vijay Singh.
Meanwhile, the total death in Kushinagar hooch tragedy remained eight. “Two are still undergoing treatment and doctors said the condition of one is critical. Postmortems of eight deceased were conducted,” said Kushinagar District Magistrate, Anil Kumar Singh.