News Brief

Tamil Nadu: At Least Fifty Dead, Over 140 Hospitalised After Drinking Toxic Liquor In Kallakurichi District

Swarajya Staff

Jun 22, 2024, 11:01 AM | Updated 11:07 AM IST

Tamil Nadu hooch tragedy
Tamil Nadu hooch tragedy

In a tragic incident, at least fifty people have died after consuming toxic liquor in Tamil Nadu's Kallakurichi district, about 250 km from the state capital, Chennai.

A total of 141 others, including five women, are undergoing treatment at the Government Kallakurichi Medical College Hospital, and government medical college hospitals in Salem, Villupuram, and Jipmer in Puducherry.

Many of the victims hailed from the Karunapuram area. Among the dead are the parents of three minor children, now facing an uncertain future.

"I don't know how to take care of them," their grandmother said, expressing her grief and concern, NDTV reported.

A woman who lost her son said, "He complained of severe stomach ache and difficulty to open his eyes. He said he had consumed arrack. Initially, the hospital refused to admit him, saying he's drunk. The state government should shut down all liquor shops."

Another grieving mother added, "My son suffered excruciating stomach pain. He could neither see nor hear. This shouldn't happen to anyone. Stop selling liquor."

In response, police have arrested four suspected bootleggers and detained ten others.

Confirming that these deaths were caused due to consumption of toxic liquor, a senior police officer was quoted as saying by NDTV, "We are investigating what exactly they consumed."

The state government has suspended district police chief Samay Singh Meena and appointing Rajat Chaturvedi in his place.

Collector Sravan Kumar Jatavath has been replaced by M S Prasanth.

Additionally, a Deputy Superintendent of Police-rank officer from the prohibition enforcement wing, three inspectors, and three sub-inspectors have also been suspended.

The investigation into the tragedy has been transferred to the CB-CID.

Chief Minister MK Stalin expressed his shock and sorrow in a post on X, stating, "The accused have been arrested. Action has been taken against officials who failed to prevent this. We will crack down with an iron hand. If the public complain about such perpetrators, action would be taken."

He announced an inquiry led by Justice (retd) B Gokuldas, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, and a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the families of each victim.

Stalin has also ordered the arrest of illegal liquor brewers, sellers of methanol, and the destruction of methanol stocks.

This tragedy highlights significant lapses by intelligence agencies and the prohibition enforcement wing.

A similar incident last year resulted in the deaths of 22 people in Tamil Nadu due to methanol consumption.

The Madras High Court yesterday pulled up the state government over the hooch tragedy, which has claimed 55 lives.

"How did you let it happen," the court said citing last year's tragedy.

AIADMK chief and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Edappadi K Palaniswami condemned the ruling DMK, stating that the government failed to curb the toxic liquor problem despite his warnings.

"I urge Chief Minister M K Stalin to take stringent action to curb toxic liquor instead of word play like last time, when they called it methanol and not toxic liquor."

State BJP chief K Annamalai echoed these sentiments, accusing the DMK of not "learning its lesson" from the previous year's deaths due to toxic liquor.

The BJP is also holding statewide protest today (22 June) against DMK government over the hooch tragedy.

In a press conference after meeting the families of the victims, Annamalai said that CM Stalin has to fix accountability and reiterated the party's demand seeking the immediate resignation of the Prohibition Minister.

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