December 6, 2021

Over 100 die in State’s worst hooch tragedy

A paramedic tends to a tea plantation worker, who consumed bootleg liquor, inside a government-run hospital in Golaghat in the northeastern state of Assam, India, February 23, 2019. REUTERS/Anuwar Hazarika - RC1650BF1900

The death toll due to consumption of spurious liquor by people in Golaghat and Jorhat districts mounted to 102 till Saturday evening even as the State government announced monetary compensation to the victims. In Golaghat district the toll rose to 59 from 17 yesterday, while in Jorhat district the number of deaths went up to 43 from 8 last night.
According to latest figures, altogether 272 people have been admitted to the Jorhat Medical College Hospital (JMCH), while about 120 people are undergoing treatment
at the Golaghat District Kushal Konwar Civil Hospital.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who visited JMCH today, announced Rs 2 lakh compensation to the kin of each of those who died in the tragedy and a one-time payment of Rs 50,000 to each of those undergoing treatment.

Early in the morning, Health and Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also visited JMCH and enquired about the treatment provided to the liquor victims. “The government is now focusing on saving lives by providing best medical care,” he said, adding, the culprits involved in illicit and spurious liquor trade would not be spared.

Sarma later visited the Golaghat civil hospital and took stock of the situation there, besides enquiring about the health condition of the liquor victims.

Golaghat Deputy Commissioner Dhiren Hazarika told The Assam Tribune this evening that the latest figure of deaths in Golaghat district was 59 out of which 36 were males and 23 females. He said the rush of people coming to the hospitals, who reportedly consumed illicit liquor on Thursday, was on and many have been discharged after necessary treatment.

He said Excise Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, accompanied by a high-level team, will be coming to Golaghat on Sunday to take stock of the situation.

NHM (Assam) Executive Director Dr Achyut Baishya and Director of Health Services Dr Rathin Bhuyan are camping at Golaghat to supervise the treatment provided to liquor victims at hospital. Medical teams from Nagaon and Tezpur hospitals have also been despatched by the government to assist in the Golaghat civil hospital.

Last night, Minister of State for Power Topon Gogoi along with Khumtai MLA Mrinal Saikia from the ruling party, visited the hospital and enquired about the health conditions of the victims.

Meanwhile, police and excise department staff in their drive against illicit liquor dens have arrested six people and seized a large quantity of stored illicit liquor from their possession. The raids were conducted in Jogibari and Noragaoh near Halmira tea estate, the epicentre of the tragedy and also at Merapani.

Six godowns housing lali gur (molasses) too have been sealed across Golaghat district in view of allegations of the material being used to produce chulai (illicit liquor), official sources said.

Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Roshni A Korati told this newspaper this evening that the total number of deaths in Jorhat district under Borholla Police Station in Titabor subdivision rose to 43 out of which 23 deaths were in JMCH and 20 in Titabor Subdivisional Civil Hospital.

Korati said raids were also carried out by police and excise officials across Jorhat district and six people were arrested on charges of their involvement in producing illicit liquor.

Principal and Chief Superintendent of JMCH Atul Baro said that viscera of those who died would be sent to the Forensic Laboratory in Guwahati to ascertain the cause of death. “But from the symptoms and questioning of the patients, it could be predicted that consumption of spurious liquor was the cause of death,” he added.

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