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Hooch tragedy: 13 die after consuming illicit liquor in Tamil Nadu

As many as 50 people from Karunapuram colony in Kallakurichi taluk were admitted to the government hospital in Kallakurichi in the wee hours of Wednesday.
Last Updated : 19 June 2024, 15:03 IST

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Chennai: At least 13 people have died and over 30 others have been hospitalised after they allegedly consumed illicit liquor in Kallakurichi district in Tamil Nadu, prompting the state government to shunt out the district collector and place the superintendent of police under suspension for alleged lapses.

As many as 50 people from Karunapuram colony in Kallakurichi taluk were admitted to the government hospital in Kallakurichi in the wee hours of Wednesday after they consumed spurious liquor which were sold in packets on Tuesday night. The incident comes just a year after 22 people died in twin hooch tragedies in Villupuram and Chengalpattu districts.

After Wednesday’s incident triggered a major uproar, the government rushed specialised medical teams to Kallakurichi government hospital, while critically-ill patients were rushed to hospitals in Salem, Tiruvannamalai, and Puducherry.

“Prima facie, it appears that they consumed pocket liquor (sold illegally in the market,” a senior government official said, adding that Chief Minister M K Stalin has ordered that the case be investigated by the CB-CID.

Government sources told DH that 13 people have died so far and about 33 are receiving treatment in various hospitals. “The death toll is expected to go high as several people are critical,” a top source said.

Under attack from the Opposition over the deaths due to spurious liquor especially just a day before the Tamil Nadu assembly is set to be convened, the government swung into control the damage by transferring district collector Sravan Kumar Jatavath and place superintendent of police Samay Singh Meena under suspension.

While M S Prasanth will replace Jatavath, Rajat Chaturvedi will be the new SP. The state government also transferred the entire Prohibition Enforcement Wing (PEW) in Kallakurichi district for lapses.

A majority of the victims are daily wage labourers and they are believed to have bought liquor from Govindaraj, who has been arrested.

“200 litres of spurious liquor was recovered from him and lab reports have revealed that methanol was mixed with liquor,” the official said.

Stalin rushed Public Works Department Minister E V Velu and Health Minister Ma Subramanian to Kallakurichi, 250 km from here. The Chief Minister said strict action will be taken against those who are involved in the incident.

Blood samples of the deceased have been sent to forensic labs in Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) in Puducherry and other institutes for analyses.

Family members of the victims alleged that they had complained of sudden loss of vision and hearing, severe stomach pain and vomiting. The incident comes just a year after 22 people died in twin hooch tragedies in Villupuram and Chengalpattu districts.

Opposition AIADMK and the BJP condemned the ruling DMK government over the incident with Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami asking Stalin to take people’s lives lightly.

“I have been saying that illicit liquor was rampant during DMK’s rule. I strongly condemn the DMK government for not taking any action to eliminate illicit liquor even after so many lives have already been lost due to it,” Palaniswami said while BJP’s K Annamalai demanded the resignation of Minister For Prohibition and Excise S Muthusamy for misgovernance.

“It is heart-wrenching to see parents cry out of the pain of losing their child and wife losing her husband due to the consumption of illicit liquor. DMK has not learnt its lesson. There is zero accountability in the DMK government and ministers do not fear consequences for posing (for pictures) with illicit liquor sellers,” added Annamalai.

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Published 19 June 2024, 15:03 IST

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