‘High’ stakes: Escalating crimes revive debate on liquor prohibition

Those with withdrawal symptoms take to toxic chemicals; illegal liquor making is on the rise

Published: 12th April 2020 05:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th April 2020 05:51 AM   |  A+A-

alcohol, prohibition, liquor

For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)

By Express News Service

COIMBATORE/KARUR/TIRUCHY: The defacto prohibition in the State has given rise to a wave of crimes, suicides and deaths. A 35-year-old man from Coimbatore, who drank hand sanitiser because he could not get alcohol, died on Saturday. Facing alcohol withdrawal syndrome, the man consumed the sanitiser assuming it would give him a high.

The deceased, E Bernard, was a gas delivery agent. He is suspected to have consumed sanitiser liquid twice, the last being on Friday. He fainted around 3am, Saturday, and was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. Bernard was survived by his wife and three daughters.  Meanwhile, three people including a TASMAC supervisor were arrested in Karur for smuggling alcohol bottles while 12 others in Tiruchy, Perambalur and Coimbatore were nabbed for illegally distilling alcohol.

“With burglary attempts on the rise due to alcohol deprivation, bottles were being moved to marriage halls in Karur. However, we received a tip-off that many bottles were being illegally smuggled and sold at higher price. We nabbed three persons, shop supervisor Kumar (43) of Sanapiratti, salesman Manimaran (45) of Townhall and Senthil Kumar (39) of Puliyur,” said police. They had smuggled 240 bottles. In Thuraiyur near Tiruchy, Prohibition Enforcement Wing (PEW) officials seized 50 litres of arrack. From Uppliyapuram in Kolli hills 200 litres were seized and three members were arrested.

“Totally six persons have been arrested in Tiruchy for selling illegal liquor products,” said an official attached with PEW. In a similar driver, 200 litres of illegal spirit was seized in Perambalur. One 50-year-old Asaithambi was caught producing 50 litres at his home; 55-year-old Ilanchezhiyan had produced 100 litres in his farm, while 46-year-old Rajavel brewed 50 litres in the village graveyard. All three have been booked and arrested. 

In Coimbatore, four litres of illegally distilled spirit was seized and three persons booked. Police say the liquor was brewed by a couple, who sold it to a middleman retailer, who wanted to sell the commodity in his home district of Ramanathapuram. While the husband Chinnakutty managed to give the cops a slip, the wife Saraswathi and middleman Murugesan were nabbed.  Earlier this month, unable to source liquor, three fishermen in Pudukkottai drank aftershave and died. In Chengalpattu, two of three friends who consumed paint varnish died on March 5. The continuing deaths have rekindled the debate on prohibition and alcohol being an essential service.

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