Diamond Harbour (West Bengal), Dec 14: At least 53 people, mostly rickshaw pullers and labourers, died and 80 were hospitalised Wednesday after consuming spurious liquor in a West Bengal village. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the government was contemplating demolition of illegal liquor dens.
Four people have been arrested for supplying the moonshine in Sangrampur village in the South 24-Parganas district. Magrahat is 52 km from Kolkata.
A district health official said the victims died of cardio-respiratory failure due to methyl poisoning.
‘Fifty three people have died so far,’ a district official said.
District Superintendent of Police L.N. Meena said 80 people were still admitted to hospitals. ‘Quite a few of them are serious,’ said District Magistrate N.S. Nigam.
Those taken ill have been admitted to the Diamond Harbour Hospital, health centres and nursing homes. Some have been shifted to Kolkata.
The tragedy occurred when the villagers consumed country liquor Tuesday night in dens near Sangrampur railway station, Nigam said.
‘From around 2 a.m. Wednesday people started vomiting, had loose motions and complained of serious stomach pain. A lot of people are still in hospital. The death toll may go up,’ said a Sangrampur resident.
Angry residents demolished the illegal liquor dens Wednesday morning.
In Kolkata, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah demanded a statement from the chief minister in the assembly.
In an interview to a private television channel, Banerjee said that the government was contemplating demolition of illegal liquor dens.
‘I have seen many people die in hooch tragedies on several occasions. And they keep recurring. I urge help from the society and others to rise above political barriers and help in doing away with this social evil,’ she said.
Describing the deaths as ‘unfortunate’, she said: ‘We have to run an awareness programme. If the illegal distilleries are regularised the government can earn revenue. But that would be a disservice to the society.’