GUWAHATI: The death toll in Thursday’s “toxic” liquor consumption incidents in Assam has risen to 102.
The deaths occurred in Upper Assam’s Golaghat and Jorhat districts. According to official sources, 59 of those who died were from Golaghat while the remaining 43 were from Jorhat. At least 25 women were among the dead.
Over 150 others, taken ill, were admitted to Golaghat Civil Hospital (GCH) and Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH). The condition of a few of them was stated to be critical.
“Fifty nine people, including 15 women, have died so far in the three incidents in Golaghat. Sixty five others are admitted in GCH and JMCH,” Golaghat district magistrate, Dhiren Hazarika, told this correspondent.
His Jorhat counterpart, Roshni Aparanji Korathi, said 43 people, who hailed from Borhola in the district, died.
“As regards the incidents at greater Borhola area of Jorhat, 43 people have died so far,” Korathi said, adding, “Altogether 119 people from both Jorhat and Golaghat districts are admitted in JMCH”.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal held a meeting with senior officials of the state government on Saturday morning and directed them to take stern action against those found guilty. Later in the day, he visited the JMCH and enquired about the health condition of those taken ill. The state’s Minister for Health, Himanta Biswa Sarma, also visited the JMCH.
So far, 20 people have been arrested in connection with the incidents. The government on Friday had constituted a four-member committee to probe the incidents. The committee was asked to submit its report within three days.
Angry over the deaths, members of the All Assam Students’ Union staged a protest in Golaghat and burnt the effigy of the state’s Minister for Excise, Parimal Suklabaidya. The Congress also demanded his sacking after holding him responsible for the incidents.
Former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of the Congress demanded a judicial probe into the incidents and an ex-gratia payment of Rs.5 lakh each to those who died. He criticised the state’s BJP-led government for depending heavily on revenues earned from the sale of liquor.