More than 80 killed by bootleg alcohol in north Indian state

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A woman is consoled after her husband’s death from bootleg alcohol in Saharanpur, the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, in this 2019 file photo. — Reuters
A woman is consoled after her husband’s death from bootleg alcohol in Saharanpur, the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, in this 2019 file photo. — Reuters

NEW DELHI — At least 86 people have died after drinking illegally-made alcohol in the northern Indian state of Punjab in the recent days, local media reported on Saturday citing government officials.

The victims have died in three districts of Punjab and police have confiscated supplies of the suspected liquor and arrested 25 people in a massive crackdown following the tragedy.

Eleven people died in Gurdaspur district, AFP reported quoting an official. Meanwhile, local media reports said on Saturday the illicit booze had claimed 53 lives in neighboring Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts.

Other deaths were suspected in recent days but could not be proved as the bodies had been cremated without a post-mortem examination.

The number of dead has steadily risen in the last few days.

Hundreds of people die in India each year after drinking bootleg alcohol from backstreet distilleries.

On Friday, Punjab's Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered a probe into the deaths.

Reports suggest the illegal liquor may have been produced in bulk, sold to roadside cafe owners and then distributed to local communities.

The case follows reports on Friday of the deaths of 10 people — said to have alcohol addictions — who drank hand sanitizer in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Deaths from illegally produced alcohol, which is much cheaper than branded spirits, are common in parts of rural India. — Agencies


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