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34 Poisoned to Death After Drinking Bootleggers’ Liquor

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At least 34 people have died, and dozens more are hospitalized after consuming illegally brewed liquor in Tamil Nadu, India. The incident occurred in the Kallakurichi district around June 19. 2024, involving liquor tainted with methanol, a highly toxic substance. Over 100 people are currently receiving treatment in various hospitals, with the death toll potentially rising as some patients remain in critical condition.

Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister M.K. Stalin confirmed the deaths and announced that those responsible had been arrested. In a post on the social media platform X, Stalin stated, “Such crimes that ruin the society will be suppressed with an iron fist.” The government has also taken action against officials who failed to prevent the distribution of illicit liquor.

The outbreak of methanol poisoning has caused significant concern within the local community. Ambulances, doctors, and specialists have been deployed to handle the crisis. Government officials reported that many victims were admitted to hospitals with symptoms of vomiting dizziness, headaches, and stomach pain, prompting a swift police investigation.

Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol are a recurring issue in India, particularly among the poor who cannot afford licensed brands from government-run shops. The illicit liquor market thrives because bootleggers avoid taxes and sell their product at a low cost, often increasing its potency with dangerous chemicals like methanol. Methanol, which is used in products ranging from paint thinners to fuel, can cause blindness, liver damage, and death when ingested.

In response to this tragedy, the Tamil Nadu police have intensified their crackdown on the illicit liquor mafia. The state’s Director General of Police (DGP), Sylendra Babu, has issued orders to curb the sale of methanol and other chemicals used in the production of illicit alcohol across the state. Raids have been conducted in various districts, resulting in the arrest of numerous individuals involved in the illegal liquor trade.

Historically, such incidents are not isolated. In 2022, over 30 people died in Bihar after consuming tainted liquor, while another 28 died in Gujarat the same year. In 2020, a significant incident in Punjab resulted in at least 120 deaths from methanol-laced alcohol. These recurrent tragedies underscore the dangers of the illicit liquor industry in India, where regulatory measures and enforcement often fall short.

The social and economic factors driving this black market are deeply rooted. Poverty and the high cost of legally available alcohol push many to turn to cheaper, unregulated alternatives. Efforts to prohibit these products in some Indian states have further exacerbated the problem, as demand for alcohol continues despite legal restrictions. Consequently, illegal production and distribution networks flourish, posing severe risks to public health.

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