Kallakurichi hooch tragedy: Bodies buried without postmortem exhumed to confirm illicit liquor consumption

Families of two men, who died five days ago, petitioned the district collector for relief. Their bodies weren't autopsied as they died before the hooch deaths were known.
Bodies that were buried without postmortem being exhumed to confirm illicit liquor consumption
Bodies that were buried without postmortem being exhumed to confirm illicit liquor consumptionScreengrab -ANI

KALLAKURICHI: Five days after the illicit arrack incident that took as many as 56 lives in Kallakurichi, six people have returned home from treatment. One other person died in the hooch tragedy in Kallakurichi on Sunday, taking the total toll to 56.

However, fresh admission of new cases has fallen with the affected people now being treated for consumption of illicit arrack at 219 on Sunday, a slight increase from 215 the previous night.

After Karunapuram, which had the highest number of hooch-affected individuals, Seshasamudram and Madhavacheri villages under Sankarapuram taluk reported 57 affected persons out of the 219 affected across the district. Among them, eight have died. These villages are located near the Gomuki dam, at the foothills of the Kalvarayan hills, and adjacent to the Velli hills.

Bodies that were buried without postmortem being exhumed to confirm illicit liquor consumption
Could the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy have been averted?

“It is at Velli hills that the brewed hooch is received from the Kalrayan hills above and the sales begin from the foothills there. It is taken along the villages of the foothill then to the town areas. Moreover since the dam is also nearby, people leisurely consume hooch there. Regardless of the rampant sales in the town area, it is important to realise that the main distribution route for the hooch remained undisturbed by the police, administrators and elected members of the assembly,” said M Anjali (40), a member of a self-help group from Karunapuram.

She claimed that not even the revenue officials like the VAO or Tahsildar from these areas tried to escalate the problem to higher authorities. “At least if it was talked about in the monthly collector meeting where prohibition enforcement meetings would be held, some control of sales would have happened and this massive scale of death could be avoided.”

Body exhumed after relief claim

Families of two persons, Ilayaraja and Jayamurugan from Madhavacheri village who reportedly died five days ago (on Tuesday) have petitioned the district collector for the relief amount. However, since the two died before the hooch deaths came to light, their bodies had not undergone autopsy.

But as the families now claim the cause of death was hooch consumption, the district collector has ordered an autopsy of the bodies to test the presence of methanol to confirm if it's a death by hooch.

Further, sources said that Ilayaraja was cremated so nothing could be done in that regard.

Jayamurugan's body was exhumed for autopsy at Madhavacheri village on Sunday.

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