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Seven die after consuming illicit liquor in Howrah

The liquor shop owner has been arrested.

July 20, 2022 06:18 pm | Updated July 21, 2022 12:20 am IST - Kolkata

 Police personnel seize country liquor from a hooch den as several people allegedly fell ill after consuming it on Tuesday night in Malipanchghora area, in Howrah district, Wednesday, July 20, 2022.

Police personnel seize country liquor from a hooch den as several people allegedly fell ill after consuming it on Tuesday night in Malipanchghora area, in Howrah district, Wednesday, July 20, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Seven people died and several others fell ill after allegedly consuming spurious liquor at Ghusuri in West Bengal’s Howrah district. Though the results of the post-mortem are awaited, family members of the deceased said that all of them consumed illicit liquor from a shop in the area.  A senior police officer of Howrah Police Commisionerate said that seven persons had died so far. The liquor shop owner, Pratap Karmakar, has been arrested by Malipanchghora Police station. The shops selling illicit liquor have been closed and samples of the liquor have been collected by the police.

The locals said that the deceased fell ill on Tuesday night after consuming liquor from one shop. Family members said they started to vomit and complained of abdominal pain. Those who died were residents of a slum and were the only earning members of the family.

Locals, mostly women, held protests in the area on Wednesday. They alleged that hooch dens had been operating in the area in full public view and the police were well awae of it. The locality where the deaths occurred is not far from the local police station. Tension prevailed in the area after the incident. A number of people were admitted to State-run hospitals.

Wife of Ranjit Gupta, one of those who died, said that she had to take care of a five-year-old daughter. “Even if there was no money, he [her husband] would drink. Nothing was done to close these shops,” she said.

About five persons have been admitted to T.L. Jaiswal Hospital in Howrah. The superintendent of the hospital Rabindranath Soren said that five persons had been admitted in the hospital and their condition was critical. He said that the symptoms of the patients suggested that they had consumed illicit liquor.

State Minister Arup Roy, who represents Howrah Central Constituency, said that action would be taken against the police if they were found responsible in any way. The Minister said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the past had stood by the families of those who had lost their kin in such incidents. Only a few days ago, four persons died after consuming spurious liquor in Bardhaman district. The Opposition parties said that such deaths were becoming a regular phenomenon and administration was not taking any action in this regard.

West Bengal has witnessed a number of deaths due to consumption of illicit liquor. More than 140 people were killed at Sangrampur in South 24 Parganas after consuming spurious liquor in December 2011. While Sangrampur was one of the biggest illicit liquor tragedies which the country had ever encountered, incidents of deaths due to spurious liquor have continued in West Bengal. In November 2018, at least seven people died in an incident of consumption of illicit substances at Santipur in Nadia.

RTI queries on the issue of illicit liquor deaths and convictions have remained unanswered. In 2021, socio-legal researcher and RTI activist Biswanath Goswami sought year-wise and district-wise breakup of the total number of death cases recorded in West Bengal due to consumption of illicit and toxic liquor from 2011 to 2021. No data was provided either by the State Excise Department or the West Bengal police.

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