The death toll from drinking cheap spurious alcohol in several villages in the northern India has risen, with at least 39 people dead and another 27 fallen sick. Authorities launched a crackdown and suspended police and officials.
Officials said the liquor was first consumed in neighboring Uttarakhand where villagers from Saharanpur attended a funeral, and was then smuggled back to Saharanpur district by a villager who then sold it to others. The death toll had stood at 28 on Friday. About 24 people are admitted to the hospital.
The Saharanpur police, suspecting that the alcohol may have come from the same source, arrested 30 people, many of them bootleggers.
State authorities have ordered a probe into the tragedy, and many police officers and officials have been suspended on charges of negligence or collusion in connection with the illicit trade.
Later on Saturday, authorities in both states announced a compensation of 200 000 rupees ($2 800) each to the relatives of those killed.
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Bootleg liquor operations flourish in rural India, where many people can't afford to buy alcohol from state-approved shops.
Cheap, locally-made liquor is common in parts of rural India and bootleggers often add methanol - a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an anti-freeze - to their product to increase its strength.
"As of now at the district hospital here 46 post-mortems were carried out and out of them in 36 cases the deaths have taken place clearly due to consumption of alcohol".