102 Assam tea garden workers dead due to toxic liquor, 350 in hospital


International desk, Feb 23: The number of tea plantation workers who died after consuming toxic illicit liquor in Assam has gone up to 102. More than 350 people are in hospital. The deaths come less than two weeks after more than 100 people died in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand from drinking illegally produced alcohol, known locally as hooch or country liquor.The Assam government has ordered investigations into two separate incidents in Golaghat district where 59 deaths were reported and Jorhat district where 43 people have died, ndtv.com reports.

Police suspect the liquor was procured late Thursday night from the home of a 65-year-old woman and her 30-year-old son in Golaghat. The mother and son have died.

According to the police, the number of dead is likely to increase as more people from a plantation in Golaghat, 310 km east of Guwahati, were taken to the hospital after they consumed the liquor on Thursday night.

Seven people have been arrested.

“Family members of people who died after alcohol consumption will be given Rs. 2 lakh ex-gratia by the Assam government and the other affected people will get Rs. 50,000,” S Pandey, PRO Excise Department of Assam, told news agency ANI.

“15,000 litre of liquor has been destroyed across the state and seven people have been arrested in the Golaghat and Jorhat case,” he said.

“Doctors from nearby districts and other medical colleges have been rushed in to deal with the crisis,” said Assam Health Minister and senior BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, after visiting patients at Jorhat. “Every 10 minutes we are getting reports of casualties from different places,” he said.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal too is expected to reach Jorhat today.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi condoled the deaths on Friday in a Facebook post, saying, “I am saddened by the incident which occurred in Assam’s Golaghat area. My deepest condolences to the families of the victims. I hope that those undergoing treatment get well soon.”

Police suspect the liquor was procured late Thursday night from the home of a 65-year-old woman named Dhraupadi Oran and her 30-year-old son Sanju Oran at Salmara tea garden in Golaghat. The mother and son have died.

Chief Minister Sonowal, in a press statement, said he has ordered an investigation by Upper Assam Division Commissioner Julie Sonowal. The report will submitted in a month.

At Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, as many as 20 people – nine women and 11 men – have died. A number of women are also among the casualties, as many of those that drank the liquor were tea plantation workers who had just received their weekly wages, according to another government official.

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