Eight persons, including four women, died on Friday after consuming spurious liquor in Ara, about 60km west of Patna. Unconfirmed sources put the toll at nine.
According to reports, nine persons, including seven Mahadalits, of Anaith village under the Nawada police station area fell ill after consuming liquor late on Thursday night. All the victims, who complained of vomiting and nausea, were admitted to Ara Sadar hospital.
The victims Jitendra Ram, Harendra Ram, Chandan Das, Manobriti, Dhanna Sah, Manjharo Devi and Kunti Devi died at the hospital early on Friday morning. At least six others of Godhna Chhotki Musahar Toli have been admitted to a local nursing home with similar symptoms.
The identity of two other victims is yet to be ascertained.
Bhojpur district magistrate Pratima S. Verma visited the locality with superintendent of police M.R. Naik and ordered an investigation into the tragedy. A team has already been constituted to ascertain the actual cause of death, she said.
The probe team comprising sub-divisional officer, sub-divisional police officer, civil surgeon and the excise commissioner would inquire into the cause of death and submit a joint report to the district administration, Naik said.
Naik added that post-mortem had been conducted while viscera have been preserved. We have also decided to conduct histopathological examination at the state forensic science laboratory in Patna, he said, adding that intensive raids have been launched on illicit liquor shops.
Several groups of women in Muzaffarpur villages had recently hit the streets protesting against the sale and consumption of illicit liquor after reports of people falling victim to it many a time.
The deaths sparked off protests by local people and CPI(ML)-Liberation members, who put up a road blockade. Senior police and civil officials rushed to the spot and pacified them.
The party has called a bandh in Ara on Saturday to protest the deaths, its district unit secretary Jitendra said.