GUWAHATI: The death toll in the toxic country-made liquor tragedy in Assam rose to 143 by Sunday evening. The deaths occurred in Golaghat and Jorhat districts. Over 100 others, taken ill, are admitted at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital and Golaghat Civil Hospital.
Golaghat Deputy Commissioner (District Magistrate), Dhiren Hazarika, said 85 people died so far in the three incidents in the district. Thirty-one women were among the dead. His Jorhat counterpart, Roshni Aparanji Korathi, said 58 people, including 15 women, died in the few incidents at greater Borhola area in the district.
The police arrested 20 people in connection with the incidents. Following the biggest hooch tragedy of the state, Excise officials launched a massive crackdown on bootleggers and illicit brewers across the state. Excise officials said over 100 cases had been registered.
The tragedy had first struck the Salmara Tea Estate in Golaghat district on Thursday night when the workers of the garden gathered at a house to celebrate the birth of a baby.
The state government has ordered a probe into the incidents and constituted a committee.
Two forensic experts, who collected samples of the deadly liquor from the sites, were hopeful that the causes of the deaths could be ascertained by Monday evening. Congress president Rahul Gandhi mourned the deaths.
“The apathy & incompetence of the Assam Govt. has resulted in the tragic deaths of over 140 people with scores of victims in hospital, poisoned by toxic alcohol. My condolences to the families of those who have died. I also pray that those in hospital make a speedy recovery,” he tweeted.
After visiting the survivors, former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi alleged that the BJP government in the state encouraged drinking to generate revenue.