Die After Drinking Toxic Alcohol In Assam, India

"While 18 persons died at the Golaghat Civil Hospital, the rest breathed their last at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital", said Rathin Bordoloi, Joint Director of Health, Golaghat district. Dozens are still being treated in local hospitals.

In India's Uttar Pradesh state earlier this month, about 80 people died from tainted bootleg liquor.

Of the estimated five billion litres of alcohol drunk every year in India, around 40 percent is illegally produced, according to the International Spirits and Wine Association of India.

Saikia said among those who died were Dhrupadi Oran, from whose house the tea estate workers got the alcohol, and her son Sanju Oran.

Himanta Biswa Sharma, Assam's health minister, said about 200 people who fell sick after drinking the toxic liquor are in hospitals, some in critical condition.

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At least 51 tea plantation workers have died so far from drinking toxic bootleg liquor near Salmara tea estate with several hospitalised in Golaghat, Assam.

Since 2016, Assam's state government has been controlled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the political group of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

State police said they arrested one man for selling the liquor, and authorities said two excise department officials were suspended for failing to take adequate precautions over the sale of the alcohol. "We tried our best, but it was too late".

To reduce the cost of regulated alcohol, politicians would have to cut the taxes charged on it. Police suspected poisonous methyl alcohol - which is commonly available - was mixed in the liquor. The victims were mostly daily-wage laborers from one of the city's slums who reportedly bought small plastic packets of bootleg alcohol for less than 10 cents. The opposition Congress blamed the state excise department for its failure to check consumption of spurious country-made liquor in tea garden areas.

The death tolls from the two recent incidents, however, are believed to be the deadliest since a similar case killed 172 in West Bengal in 2011.

  • Sonia Alvarado