The death toll due to spurious liquor reached 42 on Wednesday while 97 more people were under treatment in various hospitals in Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar district, the state government said. Local sources said that the actual figure is much higher than what the state government's release.
Minister of state for home, Harsh Sanghvi said late in the evening that 42 people have died so far while 97 are under treatment after consuming poisonous alcohol. He said that for the past two-three days, 25 teams of 2,500 police personnel in Ahmedabad and Botad districts have been searching for people who had consumed liquor in their houses and farms.
"The police brought many of the people to hospitals for treatment after searching them in their farms and houses for," Sanghvi said, indicating that due to fear of prosecution under prohibition law many victims hid themselves. Sanghvi said that government has appointed a special public prosecutor for speedy trial against the accused.
The police have booked over 20 accused for murder, causing hurt by poison to be read with criminal conspiracy. So far, the police have arrested 15 accused who are said to have bought 600 litres of methyl alcohol from a godown in Ahmedabad rural and sold it to other accused. They made country made liquor out of it and sold them to hundreds of people in Ahmedabad rural, neighbouring Botad district villages.
Facing criticism from all quarters for failing to check such repeated incidents despite the state under total liquor prohibition law, the state police have launched a special drive against illicit liquor trade. Additional Director General of Police, law and order, Narasimha Komar, said that in the past two days, 2,203 cases of illicit country made liquor were registered, in which 1,343 persons were arrested.
According to data, police have registered 69,924 cases of illegal country made liquor cases and arrested 66,393 persons. Similarly, from January to July 27, a total of 15,512 cases of India made foreign liquor have lodged in which over 18,000 persons were held and over Rs 62 crore worth of liquor was seized. Police have also booked 314 bootleggers under prevention of anti-social activities (PASA) Act while 173 were externed.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress and Aam Aadmi Party continued attacking the BJP government over its "failure" in implementing the anti-liquor law.