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Thursday 15 December 2011

West Bengal Poisonous Liquor kills 131,300 hospitalized ,CID to probe

Kolkata: In one of the worst hooch tragedy in the country, at least 131 people have died and more than 300 others are battling for life in West Bengal. Most of the victims are poor labourers, rickshaw-pullers and hawkers, who fell ill after consuming the spurious liquor from several illegal joints since Tuesday night, from Mograhat in South 24 Parganas district.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered an investigation by the CID into the tragedy, while 10 persons have already been arrested. The liquor samples have been sent for forensic examination.
The victims were brought to hospitals in Bangur and Diamond Harbor. The victims mostly complained of stomach pain, vomiting, chest pain and bodyache, doctors said.
"The total death toll in Diamond Harbour hospital is 101, Bangur Hospital is 19 and two in Chittaranjan and one in Medical College. More than 300 patients are already in the hospitals. The condition of the patients are not very good. Shifting to hospitals is not easy, but we are trying our level best to control the situation. It's an unfortunate incident," said Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee.
A medical team has been sent to the area and the government has announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for the family of each victim.
The relatives of the victims alleged that the police took bribes from the bootleggers.
"The police come and take bribes from these hooch-peddlars. If the bribe is not paid, then raids are conducted," said a villager.
"My cousin died last night after consuming this illicit liquor," said nother.
The post-mortem of 107 bodies has been done and the bodies were handed over to the families, police said.
Diamond Harbour and MR Bangur hospitals were crowded with hundreds of relatives of the victims and doctors attending to as many patients as possible.
The state health department has cancelled the leaves of all the doctors and para-medical staff to cope with the situation.
Medical teams were rushed to Diamond Harbour sub-divisional hospital to assist the doctors there, state minster for Sunderbans development Shyamal Mondal said.
Announcing the CID inquiry into the hooch tragedy in the state Assembly, the Chief Minister said seven persons had been arrested on the basis of preliminary administrative enquiry into the incident.
She said that the owner of the liquor den Badshah Khokon, named in the FIR, was absconding.
Investigation into the incident had been handed over to the CID, the chief minister said, adding that something toxic was mixed in the liquor.
She said trade in illicit liquor has been going on for a long time in the state and it is a social problem.
The chief minister said that the state government would help the traders if they switched over to other businesses like setting up tea or fruit stalls.
Banerjee said an all-party decision must be taken on the steps required to end the menace of illicit liquor.
She said the government could have legalised the business and earned revenue for the cash-strapped exchequer, but would not do it. "Character cannot be bought with money," she said.
The Chief Minister suggested that the all-party meeting be held on December 19 so that she could be present. Speaker Biman Bandopadhyay agreed to the suggestion and fixed the all-party meeting on that date.
Union Minister of State for Information and broadcasting CM Jatua, who visited the affected in hospitals, said that mostly those who had consumed liquor in large quantity, had died.
Forty-six persons died after consuming illicit liquor at Gardenreach in 2008, while killer hooch claimed 28 lives at Kidderpore in 2009.
(With additional information from PTI) 

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