22 tea workers die after drinking spurious liquor in Assam

Deceased worked at Assam tea garden, 11 others in critical condition.

Guwahati: In a tragic incident, at least 22 tea plantation workers, including four women, died from drinking country-made toxic illicit liquor in Upper Assam’s Golaghat district. The deceased have been identified as tea garden workers employed at the Salmara tea estate.

Informing that at least 11 others are struggling for their lives in various hospitals, officials familiar with the incident said that those affected are believed to have consumed methyl alcohol mixed liquor. While a preliminary investigation indicates that the deaths were triggered by consumption of hooch, post-mortems of the deceased are yet to be conducted.

Nearly 100 people drank the liquor. The police said that workers started falling sick since Thursday night with some still falling ill and being brought into the hospital.

The deputy commissioner of the district, Dhiren Hazarika, said, “We are not sure if the country liquor was contaminated. However, the container in which it was brought appeared to be that of a toxic chemical, whose residue could have gotten mixed with the liquor.”

Two women died on Thursday night. Those found dead on Friday are Draupadi Urang, Bel Bhumij, Agni Gowala, Bondhin Bauri, Santi Pujor, Binti Bhokta, Dulal Urang, Suklal Pujor, Atuwa Pujor, Shanti Pujor, Binati Bhakta, Lolita Pujor, Mina Pujor, Sunita Pujor, Dhatuwar Tanti, Sanju Orang, Bhakru Pujor, Pinki Bauri, Prabin Pujor, Mon Ghatowar, Septi Karmakar, Soneswar Gogoi, Ananda Borah, and Suren Gogoi.

The seller of the spurious liquor, Sanju Orang, was detained by the police. However, he had to be shifted to the hospital, where he died later. Among those killed also include his mother.

The district administration has set up three medical camps at the tea estate to provide first aid to those affected, police said.

The ongoing Budget Session of the Assam legislative Assembly was rocked by the tragedy on Friday morning. Opposition Congress blamed the state excise department for its failure to check consumption of spurious country-made liquor in tea garden areas.

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.

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