India's Death Toll From Counterfeit Alcohol Rises To 86 - Authorities

India's Death Toll From Counterfeit Alcohol Rises to 86 - Authorities

NEW DELHI (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 02nd August, 2020) The death toll from drinking counterfeit alcohol in the Indian state of Punjab has risen to 86, 25 suspects have been arrested and several police and customs officials have been suspended, the state's government said on Sunday.

All deaths occurred in three districts of the state. According to the latest data, 63 people died in the city of Tarn-Taran, 12 in Amritsar and 11 in the village of Batala, located near Gurdaspur. The number of people taken to the hospital with counterfeit alcohol poisoning was not specified.

Earlier in the week, the Punjab's Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, ordered an investigation into the death of people from counterfeit alcohol. He noted that "there will be no mercy for anyone found guilty."

In more than 100 raids since Thursday, police arrested 25 moonshine production suspects and seized large quantities of raw alcohol.

Also, the state authorities suspended seven customs officials and six police officers.

The deaths from counterfeit alcohol have prompted opposition members in the state to criticize Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and call for his resignation. In turn, Singh, in a speech posted on his Twitter page, called on the opposition not to politicize the tragedy and announced payments of 200,000 rupees ($2,600) to the family of each victim.

The Indian authorities are striving to reduce the consumption of alcohol by the population by imposing large taxes, in some places up to 70 percent. In turn, the population of the country consumes moonshine from coconuts, sugar cane, cashew nuts and more, often shoddily produced without any official oversight and quality control.