Hooch toll 97; 2 more held; Rs 1 lakh aid for victims' kin

Hooch toll 97; 2 more held; Rs 1 lakh aid for victims' kin

The toll due to consumption of spurious liquor in Malad area of Mumbai climbed to 97 today with the death of seven more persons in the last 24 hours even as police arrested two bootleggers in connection with the incident.

"The death toll has risen to 97 while 46 persons are still undergoing treatment in various hospitals of the city," Mumbai's Deputy Commissioner of Police Dhananjay Kulkarni told PTI.

The state government has announced compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy.

The announcement was made by Vinod Tawde, the guardian Minister of the Mumbai suburban district, who visited some of the affected families in Malad. The compensation will be provided from the Maharashtra Chief Minister's fund on Monday.

The incident had occurred at Laxmi Nagar slum near Gamdevi Jurassic Park in Malwani in suburban Malad on Wednesday night.

Police have arrested two local bootleggers, identified as Mamta Rathod (30) and Agnes Gracy alias Aunty (50), taking the total number of arrests to seven in connection with the worst hooch tragedy in the city. However, the prime accused - Mainka Bai - is still on the run.

Police have seized around 1,000 litres of spurious liquor from a godown of the arrested accused.

This is the worst hooch tragedy in the city since December 2005 when 87 people lost their lives due to consumption of spurious liquor in suburban Vikhroli.

Eight personnel attached to Malwani police station had been suspended after the incident.

The Excise department had earlier suspended four of its officials in connection with the incident for incompetence and dereliction of duty.

With the number of casualty going up, police have also launched a search for others who might have consumed spurious liquor on Wednesday night.

"We are checking every home in the vicinity and asking them whether they consumed liquor on that day. We found eight such persons and have admitted them to a nearby hospital," a police official said earlier.

The Excise department in the last one year had registered 117 cases of distribution of hooch in Malwani.

Antop Hill police yesterday raided an illegal shop in Sion-Koliwada Area and seized 40 litres of illicit liquor.

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