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Spurious liquor kills 42 in Assam, probe on

The incident took place at the Salmara tea garden on Thursday evening. A few relatives and neighbours of Dhraupadi Oran (65) and her son Sanju Oran (30) had gathered to drink at their house.

Written by Abhishek Saha | Guwahati |
Updated: February 23, 2019 2:47:33 am
A response from the state excise department is awaited. (Representational)

At least 42 people died on Friday after allegedly drinking spurious liquor in upper Assam districts of Golaghat and Jorhat, officials said. The state government has ordered two separate inquiries into the incident.

Police suspect the liquor was procured late on Thursday night from the house of a woman named Dhraupadi Oran (65) and her son Sanju Oran (30) in the Salmara tea garden of Golaghat. The mother and son have died, too, adding to the difficulty in the investigation into the case.

According to Golaghat district Superintendent of Police Pushpraj Singh, some people were also drinking at the Orans’ house, and of them, four women initially fell ill.

“They were taken to the hospital where they succumbed. From today early morning, several persons reported to have fallen ill,” Singh told The Indian Express on Friday. The cases were reported from both Golaghat and Jorhat districts.

Singh said, “In Golaghat, 22 people have died, including 11 women. Another 24 are undergoing treatment at hospitals in the district.” Meanwhile, Dr M J Gohain, public relations officer of the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, said, “As of 10 pm, 20 deaths have occurred here — nine women and 11 men.”

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, in a press statement, said he has ordered a one-man inquiry by Upper Assam Division Commissioner Julie Sonowal. This committee will submit its report within 30 days.

“The modus operandi of the inquiry will be study the circumstances and other related causative factors and prepare a report and submit the same to the government,” the statement said.

Excise Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said that two local officials of the department functioning in that area have been suspended and a four-member inquiry team headed by Additional Commissioner of the Excise Department, Sanjib Medhi, will submit its report within three days.

Police said they suspect that instead of ethyl alcohol, poisonous methyl alcohol — which is commonly available — was used in the liquor. “Due to continuous awareness campaigns, the production of alcoholic drink indigenously by the tea garden workers in the locality had been halted for at least three months now. But these people had procured the liquor from somewhere else. We are investigating that. We have got a lead and we are going after that,” Singh said.

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