In Assam’s worst mass alcohol poisoning case, at least 45 more tea plantation workers died on Sunday taking the toll to over 143.
Over 300 others remained hospitalised after they consumed spurious liquor on Thursday night at the Salmora tea estate in Golaghat, 300 km from Guwahati, and at two remote villages in Titabor sub-division of Jorhat district.
Deaths began at the Salmara Tea Estate when the workers consumed spurious liquor known as ‘Sulai mod’ in Assamese on Thursday night after gathering at a house to celebrate the birth of a baby.
According to reports, the victims include a mother-son duo, suspected to have supplied the local liquor at Halmira.
The state excise department has registered over 100 cases and arrested 20 people in connection with the case.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has already 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.
The government announced ex gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those who are hospitalised.
Over 15,000 litres of toxic liquor was also destroyed across the state
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday expressed condolences 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 over 100 people died after consuming spurious liquor in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.