At least 80 tea plantation workers have died and nearly 300 hospitalised in Assam districts of Golaghat and Jorhat after consuming spurious liquor.
According to reports, the number of the dead is likely to rise 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.
Police have arrested two people in connection with the event.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ordered an inquiry into the incident. Two excise officials of the district have been suspended.
Expressing concern over the deaths, the chief minister directed Upper Assam Divisional Commissioner Julie Sonowal to inquire into it and submit a report to the government within a month.
Sonowal also asked state Power Minister Topon Kumar Gogoi, MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa and MLA Mrinal Saikia to rush to the spot to assess and control the situation.
Assam Excise Minister Parimal Suklabaidya directed a team of department officials to conduct an inquiry into the incident.
Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi has demanded the resignation of the excise minister and urged the chief minister to provide adequate compensation to the next of the kin of the deceased.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday condoled the deaths 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.”
The deaths come less than two weeks after 97 people died after consuming spurious liquor in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Uttar Pradesh reported a total of 64 deaths, with 54 reported from Saharanpur district and 11 from Kushinagar.
The spurious alcohol was consumed in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar on February 8.