Spurious liquor has claimed 61 lives here and in Tamil Nadu in the past two days. Bangalore and Kolar accounted for 46 deaths while 15 died near Hosur in Tamil Nadu. The trickle of victims since Sunday turning into a deluge on Monday.
Thirty-three others are battling symptoms like severe dehydration and dizziness in various governments hospitals in the two states, ostensibly a hangover from the killer brew they consumed. All victims are labourers or slum dwellers. On Monday, government hospitals in Bangalore and Kolar were filled with bodies and grieving relatives.
With elections going on in Karnataka, many see a connection. “Some arrests have been made and raids are on in areas where the liquor may be stored. We are trying to locate the source through chemical analysis. Every day since elections to the legislative assembly were announced, liquor is being seized. Today, we seized 1,200 boxes in Bijapur from a truck that entered from Maharashtra,” DGP R Srikumar said.
The parties have already started the blame game. JD-S leader HD Revanna demanded a CBI probe while charging Excise Department officials with secretly handing over 2,50,000 cases of liquor to BJP and Congress leaders ahead of polls. The Congress’s B Janardhan Poojary blamed the tragedy on the previous JD-S-BJP regime’s decision to ban arrack (local liquor). In retaliation, the BJP said the other two parties would pay the price for making the deaths a poll issue.