Assam Excise Minister Parimal Shuklavaidya talking to ANI at Golaghat on Sunday. Photo/ANI
Assam Excise Minister Parimal Shuklavaidya talking to ANI at Golaghat on Sunday. Photo/ANI

Toll in Assam hooch tragedy mounts to 123, nearly 125 under treatment

ANI | Updated: Feb 24, 2019 17:33 IST

Golaghat (Assam) [India], Feb 24 (ANI): The toll in Assam hooch tragedy has gone up to 123 with around 125 people still under treatment at different hospitals, informed the state’s Excise Minister Parimal Suklavaidya here on Sunday.
“So far 123 people have died of consuming spurious liquor in Golaghat and Jorhat districts, while around 125 people are under treatment,” Excise Minister Suklavaidya told ANI.
He also visited the victims of hooch tragedy undergoing treatment at the Civil Hospital here and inquired about their health. Terming the tragedy as unfortunate, he said the BJP government has made stricter provisions to check the sale of illicit liquor in the state.
“Now there is a fine of Rs 5 lakh for selling spurious liquor and lifetime imprisonment after the amendments in the state Excise Act,” he said.
The incident had triggered protests and outrage among the locals. Several residents in Guwahati demanded that the government should completely ban the sale of liquor.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who visited the affected people at Jorhat Medical College Hospital (JMCH) on Saturday, has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of each of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those who have fallen ill for treatment.
Upper Assam Division Commissioner Julie Sonowal is conducting an inquiry and has been asked to submit the report within a month.
Golaghat Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Parthopratim Saikia said: “Police have launched a massive crackdown to nab those responsible for the distribution for illicit liquor in the area.”
Meanwhile, Congress party has questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence over the hooch tragedy.
“Prime Minister Modi keeps giving speeches from dawn to dusk but he neither mentioned about the tragedy nor scolded his own party’s government in the state for the tragedy,” said Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera in New Delhi, while talking to media persons.
Accusing the state government of not taking enough steps to check the sale of spurious liquor, Assam’s Congress unit has demanded the resignation of Excise Minister Suklavaidya. Former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has demanded a judicial inquiry into the tragedies.
Most of the victims of Assam hooch tragedy are poor labourers, working in the tea estates of Golaghat and Jorhat districts. A large number of them had fallen ill after consuming spurious liquor on Thursday night and 12 of them were declared dead when they were rushed to the hospital for treatment after falling ill.
In order to ensure that there is no shortage of doctors in attending to the patients, medical professionals have been rushed to Jorhat and Golaghat from Assam Medical College Hospital, Dibrugarh, Gauhati Medical College Hospital, and Tezpur Medical College Hospital, Sonitpur.
Assam hooch tragedy comes close on the heels of the death of nearly 70 people recently in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand after consuming spurious liquor. These deaths were reported from Saharanpur, and Kushinagar districts in Uttar Pradesh, and Haridwar in Uttarakhand. (ANI)