Assam Hooch Tragedy: Death Toll Rises to 165 in Golaghat & Jorhat
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bharadwaj
At least 165 people have died after allegedly consuming illicit liquor in Assam's Golaghat and Jorhat districts, local police told The Quint on Monday, 25 February.
With the death toll rising steadily, the Assam government on Saturday banned ‘lali gur’ (jaggery/liquid), a substance used to make illicit liquor. The government had given the license for this liquid because it was given to cows, but people have now started using it to manufacture the illicit liquor.
Members of the Congress party staged a protest in Golaghat, demanding the resignation of Excise Minister Parimal Suklabaidya.
Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal also visited the Jorhat hospital to meet the victims of the tragedy.
The Assam government has announced compensation for the families of those have died in the incident. Assam Finance and Health Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sharma on Saturday paid a visit to the Golaghat hospital to meet those admitted there.
According to a Hindustan Times report, the incident took place at the Halmira Tea Estate in the district, with a sample of alcohol being sent for forensic investigation by the police.
Parimal Suklabaidya, Assam Excise Minister, has ordered a probe into the incident, reported News18. Two excise officials from the Salmara area have been suspended for neglect, said the report.
Two Vendors Arrested
Two vendors – Deben Bora and Indrakolpo Bora – have been arrested. Speaking about the incident, Dileep Rajvanshi, a doctor at a government hospital, told ANI that the initial diagnosis suggested alcohol poisoning led to the deaths. The post-mortem is yet to be done, he added.
Police reportedly said that the alcohol was bought by tea estate workers from the house of a person named Dhrupadi Oran.
Locals complained about a nexus between police authorities and illegal liquor sellers, according to IANS.
The incident comes just days after at least 99 people died in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand due to the consumption of illicit liquor.
Rahul Gandhi Offers Condolences
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday, 22 February, condoled the families of those who had died after consuming spurious liquor in Assam's Golaghat district.
"I am saddened by the incident which occurred in Assam's Golaghat area. My deepest condolences to the families of the victims. I hope that those undergoing treatment get well soon," Gandhi said in a Facebook post.
He also blamed apathy and incompetence of the Assam government for the tragedy. "The apathy and incompetence of the Assam Government has resulted in the tragic deaths of over 140 people with scores of victims in hospital, poisoned by toxic alcohol," Gandhi tweeted on Sunday, 25 February.
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