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98 Indians died after drinking bootleg alcohol

August 04, 2020 | 07:26

August 2, the number of Indians died of bootleg alcohol at Punjab, Northern India, has risen to 98.

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The death toll from a toxic bootleg alcohol scandal in the north Indian state of Punjab rose to 98 Sunday, officials and reports said to AFP.

Mr. Kulwant Singh, the representative of local authorities, admitted that the number of Indians died of adulterated alcohol at Tarn Tarn, Punjab, India, rose to 75 after investigation. Later, 11 more death at Gurdaspur and 12 at Amritsar district increased the total of 98.

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A man sits by the body of a relative who died after apparently drinking toxic moonshine. Photo: AFP

"Several families refused to divulge details of deaths and a few even cremated them. We have come to this number after information gathering," Singh told AFP Sunday.

A senior police official said they have been persuading them to report the death of their family members.

Police have arrested 25 people so far over the worsening tragedy, which starting coming to light late last week, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

The head of government of the state of Punjab also announced on Friday that he had ordered a special investigation into the deaths. The opposition on Twitter called on the local government to "curb the alcohol mafia" in the region. Of the five billion liters of alcohol drunk annually in India, 40% is produced illegally, according to the International Spirits and Wines Association of India.

Hundreds of people die every year in India from illegal alcohol made in backstreet distilleries which sells for as little as 10 rupees (13 US cents) a litre, affordable for even the poorest, reported AFP.

Of the estimated five billion litres of alcohol drunk every year in India, around 40 percent is illegally produced, according to the International Spirits and Wine Association of India.

Deaths are frequently reported, with bootleggers often found adding methanol -- a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an anti-freeze -- in their brews to increase its strength said AFP.

Traffickers often add methanol, a very toxic product, to their alcoholic beverages in order to increase the alcohol content. Methanol can be blind, cause liver damage, or cause death. Hundreds of people die each year after consuming adulterated alcohol, sold for 10 rupees (13 US cents), affordable even for the poorest, according to 20minf

India has long grappled with the problem of fake or illegal alcohol. In 2015, more than 100 people died in a Mumbai slum died after drinking illegal moonshine. This is also the main cause of 80 deaths on February last year.

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Death toll in Punjab spurious liquor tragedy rises to 98. Photo: PTI
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Janet Dang