Regular-article-logo Friday, 09 June 2023

Spurious hooch leads to vision loss in Assam

Victims of hooch tragedy stare at dark future

Umanand Jaiswal Golaghat Published 25.02.19, 08:22 AM
Abhiram Khesh at JMCH on Sunday.

Abhiram Khesh at JMCH on Sunday. Umanand Jaiswal

Abhiram Khesh, one of the survivors of the Assam hooch tragedy which has claimed over 144 lives since Thursday, has promised not to touch another drop of liquor as long as he is alive.

But the vow may be a little too late for the 45-year-old permanent garden worker of Halmira tea estate in Golaghat district.


He is among those undergoing treatment at Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH), about 55km from the tea garden, for headache and vomiting following consumption of spurious liquor on Wednesday.

“What can I wish? I want to live and resume my normal life. I want my vision back. I promise not to touch another drop till I live. I am not a regular drinker,” he told The Telegraph from his hospital bed.

However, a senior doctor, who was rushed to JMCH following the rising number of patients, fears that the spurious hooch may have left him permanently blind.

“We are trying our best but it is highly unlikely that he will regain his vision,” the doctor said.

Khesh is not the only one staring at a future without eyesight. Anup Barman, director, medical Education of the Assam government, said he has come across six patients complaining about loss of vision. “Loss of vision and weakness of nerves will continue to haunt the survivors. We need to launch a targeted awareness drive and ensure sale of only legally permissible liquor to prevent a repeat,” Barman, who was attending to the hooch victims at JMCH, said.

Khesh, who was being attended to by his son Manoj, a degree student, said a friend had forced him to share a drink on Wednesday evening. “ I bought a quarter (250ml for Rs 15) from a seller in the garden,” Khesh said.

He added that he had gone to work on Thursday as usual but complained of uneasiness after an hour or so. Khesh was referred to Golaghat civil hospital on Friday morning and to the JMCH in the evening when he complained about his eyesight.

Khesh regained his sight between 1pm to 3pm on Saturday but since then it has been “all dark”, just like the future he is staring at.

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