At least 10 persons died and over 40 others had to be admitted to hospital in a suspected hooch tragedy in Howrah’s Malipanchghora, around 8km northwest of Kolkata, between Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Irate residents blocked roads in the area on Wednesday morning protesting against the alleged negligence of police in cracking down on illegal hooch dens that have been operating in the area.
Groups of youths barged into some of the dens and pulled out jerrycans allegedly filled with spurious liquor.
Later, a strong police force reached the locality in Ghushuri and managed to remove the bodies for post-mortem.
“The reports will ascertain the exact cause of deaths including whether they were caused by spurious liquor,” said a senior officer of Malipanchghora police station.
A section of residents alleged that the hooch dens were controlled by a man who was hand in glove with the police. Some of residents claimed that the police would never bother to raid the dens and destroy them even though they were located very close to the Malipanchghora police station.
Some of the family members of the deceased said that the victims started throwing up on Tuesday night after returning home from the hooch dens. Gradually their conditions started deteriorating.
“The victims started complaining of acute diarrhoea from 10.30pm on Tuesday followed by water loss,” said a doctor of a hospital in Howrah.
“The alcohol appears to have been laced with some chemical in a disproportionate quantity,” said the doctor.
With the death toll rising, senior leaders, led by local Trinamul MLA Arup Roy, reached Malipanchghora during the day and tried to pacify the crowd that demanded immediate arrest of those responsible for the tragedy.
“The state government will do its best to address your concerns,” Roy told the residents.
Fire in building
A fire broke out on the top floor of a two-storey residential building at Rupchand Mukherjee Lane in Bhowanipore in south Kolkata on Wednesday afternoon, police said.
The fire started around 12.15pm. Three tenders doused the flames within an hour, the police said.