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Tamil Nadu hooch tragedy: AIADMK MLAs evicted from Assembly over calls for discussion

At least 48 people have died after consuming spurious liquor in Kallakurichi district in the past three days. The tragedy, which sent shock waves across the state, has raised pertinent questions on how brewing and sale of illicit liquor went unchecked by the administration.
Last Updated : 21 June 2024, 05:23 IST

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Chennai: High drama prevailed in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Friday when AIADMK legislators were evicted from the House after they insisted that the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy that has claimed the lives of nearly 50 people should be discussed by suspending the Question Hour.

Clad in black shirts and black sarees, the AIADMK MLAs led by Leader of Opposition and party general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami were on their feet as soon as the Assembly re-convened at 10 am. The MLAs, who were holding placards demanding the resignation of Chief Minister M K Stalin, shouted slogans against the government and insisted that the issue should be discussed immediately.

Neither Stalin nor his son and Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin, who met with the hooch tragedy victims on Thursday, were present in the House when the AIADMK MLAs highlighted the issue. When Palaniswami rose to speak, Speaker M Appavu said he can raise the issue after the completion of the Question Hour.

However, Palaniswami and his colleagues didn’t budge and continued to demand that they be allowed to speak on the tragedy. As din prevailed in the House, the Speaker ordered that all AIADMK MLAs be removed from the Assembly.

There was also an altercation between the evicted MLAs and personnel of Tamil Nadu Police outside the assembly complex.

Later, however, the Speaker allowed the AIADMK MLAs to rejoin the session, but the party took a decision to not participate.

At least 48 people have died after consuming spurious liquor in Kallakurichi district in the past three days. The tragedy, which sent shock waves across the state, has raised pertinent questions on how brewing and sale of illicit liquor, that too in the district headquarters, went unchecked by the administration, especially as it comes just a year after a twin hooch tragedy in neighbouring Villupuram district consumed 22 lives.

The death toll is likely to go up with several people admitted to various hospitals in and around Kallakurichi, 240 km from Chennai, are said to be critical, while the number of people admitted to hospitals after allegedly consuming spurious liquor has crossed 100. Some women who didn’t know that they were consuming liquor also fell victim to the tragedy.

While four people, including the vendor Kannukutty who supplied illicit liquor to villagers in packets, have been arrested, the District Administration’s initial denial on Wednesday morning that spurious liquor wasn’t the reason for the death of four persons from the locality seems to have escalated the issue.

The government, which was caught napping as spurious liquor was sold in packets in the heart of the Kallakurichi town with scores of people continuing to get admitted to hospitals with several symptoms, also faced

uncomfortable questions from the AIADMK which said its MLA had been raising the issue with now-suspended SP Samay Singh Meena, who is believed to have turned a blind eye.

Mixing ethanol with liquor is understood to have been the cause of the deaths and the police have formed 10 special teams to nab the accused who mixed methanol in the illicit liquor. 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.

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Published 21 June 2024, 05:23 IST

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