Death Toll in Hooch Tragedy Rise to 136

The death toll in Ahamadabad’s hooch tragedy has gone up to 136 with 26 more people dying in city hospitals after taking illicit liquor, said officials.

It should be that since 1989 when 132 people died following consuming moonshine in Vadodara, it is the highest death toll in any such case in the state.

The death in recent hooch tragedy which began on Monday reached to 136 by Friday midnight.

Police suspect, in the face of rising toll, that a small quantity of the same batch of the illicit liquor distributed in in Kagdapith, Odhav and Amraiwadi localities of Ahmedabad since July 5 is probably still being circulated in other parts of the city.

“We suspect traces of the same killer brew are still in circulation as some patients have arrived in hospitals from ‘Bawa Ki Chali’ from eastern parts of the city for treatment as late as Friday night. This also indicates that there might be some small bootleggers still on the loose in the city who are selling country liquor in other parts of Ahmedabad,” said an official in the Crime Branch of the city police.

He said that while nearly 50 bootleggers in Ahmedabad have already been rounded up, there could be some small operators who have not been nabbed.

“As per the latest toll we suspect that people in slum clutters of Odhav and Amraiwadi are still buying country liquor through some bootlegger in the area,” the official said.

The number of patients admitted so far in the four Ahmedabad hospitals – Civil Hospital, VS Hospital, LG Hospital and Shardaben Hospital – rose to 276 with nearly 100 still under observation either in ICUs or surgical wards.

Meanwhile, the alleged key bootlegger, Harishankar Kahar, nabbed by the Crime Branch, has been sent to police remand for 14 days by a local court.

Embarrassed by the scale of the tragedy in a state where consumption and sale of liquor is officially banned, police have swept through Gujarat in search of those illegally selling home-made liquor.

On Thursday, Gujarat closed down 1,200 liquor dens and arrested over 800 illegal brewers.

Gujarat is the country’s only state where sale and consumption of liquor is banned in deference to Mahatma Gandhi, a Gujarati who was passionately opposed to liquor.

This has led to a proliferation of illegal liquor dens, whose home-made brew is mostly consumed by those from low income families who can’t afford high priced drinks available outside the state.

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