The death toll in the spurious country liquor case at Mumbai rose to 53 even as 28 people have been admitted to a hospital here and are in a critical condition.
Police on Friday arrested Raju Hanmanta Pascar alias Langada, 50, Donald Robert Patel, 47, and Gautam Harte, 30, for selling the spurious liquor.
The victims allegedly drank the liquor at three different places in Laxminagar slums between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Within hours of consuming the liquor, the victims began complaining of blurry vision, acute respiratory distress and vomiting.
This is the second such case in Mumbai. In 2004, 86 people were killed and another 192 fell ill after they consumed spurious country liquor at Vikhroli area here.
The Malwani case led to the suspension of eight police officers, including the senior inspector of Malwani police station on Friday. A major drive to crack down on the sale of illegal liquor has been undertaken.
Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria said, “We have suspended four police officers and four constables for negligence.” A case has been registered at the Malwani police station under section 304 of the Indian penal code (culpable homicide) along with section 328 (causing hurt by means of poison), and 34 (act of common intention).
Deaths from drinking bootleg alcohol are common in India with legal liquor priced way beyond the means of the country’s poorest, but such incidents rarely occur in major cities like Mumbai.
More than 31 people died near Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow in January after consuming a toxic batch of home-brewed liquor.
Experts say spurious liquor is usually spiked with chemicals like pesticides to increase its potency, often leading to blindness or death when ingested.