Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand Police have begun a massive scale crackdown on the illegal dens of spurious liquor even as the toll from the hooch tragedy continued to mount across the two states.
Since Friday, the adulterated liquor has claimed over 100 lives in two states. However, the state officials have only confirmed 61 deaths so far. At least 150 others were being treated for severe side effects from the hooch.
In a fortnight-long drive begun Friday, the UP authorities have so far registered 297 cases after raids, arresting 175 people.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered departmental action against district excise officers of Kushinagar and Saharanpur. Four Saharanpur excise officials have been suspended.
In Uttarakhand, 13 excise department personnel and four policemen have been placed under suspension. Ten policemen were suspended Friday in Uttar Pradesh.
Mounting toll of 'kachchi sharab'
According to India TV sources, Kachchi sharab or hooch has claimed at least 38 lives in UP's Saharanpur, 18 lives in Meerut, 10 in Kushinagar and 25 in Uttarakhand. There were also reports of deaths due to illicit liquor from Agra, Gonda, Sitapur and other nearby areas.
According to official figures, 25 of the victims died in Balupur and its neighbouring villages in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar district, state’s Additional Director General (Law and Order) Ashok Kumar said.
An Uttar Pradesh government statement released in the evening in Lucknow said that 36 died in Saharanpur district which adjoins Uttarakhand. They Saharanpur victims had returned home to their villages in the district after drinking the spurious liquor in Balupur on Thursday night.
Earlier on Saturday, Saharanpur officials had said 46 people from the district died due to the consumption of spurious liquor – 35 in the district itself and 11 more at a Meerut hospital to which they had been referred.
In addition, the viscera examination on 11 others was yet to be performed, officials had then said.
In the evening, however, the district authorities said while liquor poisoning had been confirmed as the cause of death of 36 people, the viscera test needed to be performed on 20 more bodies. The viscera examination is in addition to the routine post-mortem.
In Uttarakhand, about 15 people are still under treatment.
Most of the victims had consumed the liquor Thursday evening after the `tehravin’, the 13th day of mourning ritual, following a relative's death in Balupur, officials said.
Uttar Pradesh police, however, added that a Saharanpur district resident may have brought 30 pouches of the same liquor from Uttarakhand for sale back home.
This may have led to more casualties, an official said, but the investigation into this is still on. Both states have suspended administration and police officials for alleged negligence and ordered probes.
They have also announced ex-gratia compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the families of those killed.
Earlier, Saharanpur district magistrate Alok Pandey said people from Nangal and adjoining villages in his district had started falling ill when they returned home from Balupur.
Many of them were not immediately admitted to hospital as the area was hit by rain and a hailstorm, he said.
Up to late Friday night, 16 people had died in Haridwar and 18 more in Saharanpur. By Saturday afternoon, the combined death toll had risen sharply.
In an unrelated incident, nine people have died over the week in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar district, allegedly after drinking spurious liquor.