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Five dead after suspected consumption of contaminated ayurvedic syrup in Gujarat

Preliminary probe revealed that the ayurvedic syrup, branded as 'Kalmeghasav - Asava Arishta', was sold over the counter to nearly 50 people by a shopkeeper in Bilodara village near Nadiad town of Kheda district

PTI Nadiad Published 30.11.23, 02:44 PM
Representational picture.

Representational picture. File picture

At least five persons have died due to the suspected consumption of an ayurvedic syrup containing methyl alcohol in Gujarat's Kheda district, police said on Thursday.

The deaths took place on November 28 and 29, said Kheda Superintendent of Police Rajesh Gadhiya.

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Methyl alcohol is a poisonous substance. Police are probing at what stage it was added to the syrup.

The deceased were suspected to have consumed `Kalmeghasav - Asava Arishta', an ayurvedic syrup which was sold over the counter to nearly 50 persons by a grocery shop in Bilodara village near Nadiad, the police official said.

According to officials, such medicinal syrups are sometimes misused by alcohol addicts. Notably, prohibition is in force in Gujarat.

"While five persons lost their lives after consuming the syrup in the last two days, two are undergoing treatment. We have detained the shop owner and two others for questioning," SP Gadhiya said.

Police started a probe on Wednesday afternoon after learning that five deaths had taken place at Bilodara and Bagdu villages, he said.

Mitesh Chauhan (27), who had stayed for the night at his married sister's house in Bagdu village, complained of dizziness on the morning of November 28. His condition deteriorated while his brother-in-law Alpesh Sodha was taking him to the hospital and he died on the way, said a release by Kheda police.

When Chauhan's last rites were being conducted, Sodha too complained of uneasiness and was admitted to a hospital in Mahemdavad. He died on Wednesday evening, said the release.

"We found that three more persons from Bilodara village had died on November 28 and 29 after developing similar symptoms. While the families of four of them had already performed last rites without informing police, we convinced the family of Natu Sodha to hand over the body for autopsy to find out the exact cause," said Gadhiya.

Natu Sodha's body was sent to the Nadiad civil hospital for autopsy.

Preliminary probe revealed that all five deaths were linked to suspected consumption of Kalmeghasav, the official said.

Shop owner Kishan Sodha allegedly admitted that he had sold syrup bottles to nearly 50 persons in the last one week. He bought them for Rs 100 apiece and sold them for Rs 130, Gadhiya said.

"Kishan's father Sankalbhai and another resident of Bilodara, Baldev Sodha, had also consumed this syrup and both are currently under treatment. Sankalbhai's blood test confirmed the presence of methyl alcohol, which means the chemical was added to the syrup...it is a matter of investigation at which stage it was added," the SP said.

Police have detained Kishan Sodha, a person named Yogesh Sindhi and another man. Kishan claimed that he had purchased the syrup from Sindhi, the official said.

"We learnt from the Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) that no license is required to sell this syrup as it is an ayurvedic preparation. But a license is required to manufacture such syrups. It is also a matter of investigation whether all the bottles were contaminated, because out of 50 persons who drank it, only five were affected," the SP said.

H G Koshia, a commissioner at the FDCA, said `Asavas' and `Arishtams' are fermented ayurvedic mixtures which contain less than 12 per cent self-generated alcohol.

"Since even production (of such syrups) is banned in Gujarat, it is procured from other states and sometimes sold after alcohol or even methanol is added to them. We have caught such malpractices in the past too. Yogesh Sindhi had earlier sought the FDCA's permission to start a manufacturing unit of this syrup. But we denied him permission after checking his record," said Koshia.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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