India’s worst liquor poisoning incident in 4 years claimed the lives of 92 people this week. Additionally, Dozens more have been hospitalized. The victims reportedly started to feel ill from Wednesday morning after drinking the illicit liquor at a bar in North Mumbai.
The victims were mainly labourers and drivers. So far, 6 people have been arrested in relation to this case and charged with bootlegging. The Chief Minister has ordered an inquiry into the incident and has sought an official report within two days. The recent incident in Mumbai is the most serious case of liquor poisoning in the city since 2004 when 87 people died in Vikhroli.
Eight policemen linked to the sale of the tainted alcohol have been reportedly suspended, including Prakash Patil, a senior police commissioner of the Malwani district in Mumbai. Authorities have opened an inquiry to investigate the role the policemen played in the poisoning, and also arrested five people in connection with the case.
An anonymous police official told local newspaper Mid-Day that Patil knew that the liquor being sold was potentially lethal, but chose to turn a blind eye.
Moonshine – a term used for liquor produced illegally – is widely consumed in India. In some cases it is sold for less than $1. It is known to result in critical health conditions and even deaths. Methanol, a highly toxic form of alcohol, is often added to bootleg liquor as a cheap way of increasing the alcohol content.
This week’s incident is the latest in a string of deaths in India caused by the toxic bootleg liquor. In 2008, 180 people died in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu after consuming the liquor, and in another incident in 2009, 136 people died in the western state of Gujarat.