Kallakurichi tragedy: 33 die after consuming illicit liquor

The DMK government has transferred Kallakurichi District Collector Sravan Kumar Jatavath and suspended the district Superintendent of Police (SP) over the incident.
Kallakurichi tragedy: 33 die after consuming illicit liquor
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At least 33 people have died and 15 others are in critical condition after consuming illicit liquor in Tamil Nadu's Kallakurichi district.  A total of 109 persons were hospitalised in the incident. The victims are availing treatment at the Kallakurichi Government Medical College, JIPMER Puducherry and Salem Government Hospital. The case has been transferred to the CB-CID for investigation.  

In the wake of the tragedy, Opposition leader E Palaniswami is set to visit the families of the victims in Kallakurichi.  

The district police had arrested one person on Wednesday, June 19, identified as Kannukutty (49). He is accused of peddling the liquor. The police had also seized 200 litres of liquor from his possession. According to the police, Kannukutty had mixed methanol in the country liquor and had sold it in packets. 

Family members of the deceased, however, told TNM that the police are complicit. "Illicit liquor is regularly sold in this area. The police know. If someone complains, they will stop for 10 days but resume again. If a person complains, the police will tip the peddler off on who raised the complaint and immediately, that person is threatened by the peddlers. That's why people have refrained from complaining. The peddlers definitely pay a sum of money to the police to continue selling illicit liquor," a family member of a victim said.

Another family member of the victim added that Karunapuram's Dalit Colony has seen the most number of deaths. "The sale of illicit liquor is so rampant here that even 13 and 15-year-old boys are being sold packets by peddlers. These peddlers are now also selling Marijuana. Today, despite so many deaths, no one apart from the Tahsildar and a few police have come to this Dalit Colony. We want the officials to initiate strict action and put an end to the sale of drugs and illicit liquor," she added.

Kallakurichi District collector Sravan Kumar Jatavath, was transferred on Wednesday and the district's Superintendent of Police (SP) has been placed under suspension. 

The newly-appointed Kallakurichi Collector MS Prashanth, on Thursday told the media that the hospitals are equipped to handle the crisis. The administration has arranged adequate ambulances. Doctors and medical students have also been called in to help, he said.

According to reports, dozens of people from Kallakurichi town and neighboring areas consumed the illicit liquor sold by bootleggers in Karunapuram on Tuesday night. Upon returning home, they experienced severe symptoms such as giddiness, headache, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, and eye irritation. Family members rushed the victims to a private hospital and the Kallakurichi Government Medical College and Hospital, where ten people were initially reported dead.

A day earlier, Chief Minister MK Stalin expressed his shock over the tragic incident and announced actions against officials who failed to prevent it. In a post on X, MK Stalin said, “I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of the deaths of people who had consumed adulterated liquor in Kallakurichi. Those involved in the crime have been arrested in this matter. Action has also been taken against the officials who failed to prevent it. Immediate action will be taken if the public informs about those involved in such crimes. Such crimes that ruin the society will be suppressed with an iron fist.”

It may be noted that earlier, in May 2023 as well, 22 persons lost their lives after consuming illicit liquor in Villupuram and Chengalpattu districts of Tamil Nadu. The Villupuram police had confirmed that the fatalities were due to the presence of methanol in the spurious alcohol consumed. Methanol, a potent substance, is a key ingredient used in illicit brewing and can lead to serious illness and death.

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