The number of deaths in the hooch tragedy in Assam increased to 102 with at least 68 more deaths reported in Golaghat and Jorhat districts on Saturday.
Health officials said nearly 200 others, who fell ill after allegedly consuming spurious liquor on Thursday evening are still hospitalised. The death toll could further go up.
The state government officials said 59 deaths were reported from Golaghat and 43 in neighbouring Jorhat districts so far. More than 40 of the deceased are women.
The shocking incident invited sharp criticism to the BJP-led government with the Opposition Congress demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and excise minister Parimal Suklabaidya.
“This has shown the failure of the state government to improve living condition in our tea gardens. The state government is concentrating on increasing revenue from liquor but has failed to check the sale and use of illegal country liquor,” former chief minister and veteran Congress leader, Tarun Gogoi said.
Four workers belonging to Halmira tea estate in Golaghat district, who were rushed to a local government hospital died around 7.30pm on Thursday. The death toll increased to 34 on Friday.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who visited the hospitals, announced ex-gratia of Rs. 2-lakh to the family of each of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 of those admitted in hospitals. “We have ordered an inquiry to identify the guilty and take action against them,” he said.
Excise department said seven persons have been arrested so far and booked under non-bailable sections and over 10,000 litres of country liquor destroyed on Friday and Saturday.