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34 dead in Tami Nadu hooch tragedy, CM orders probe

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: June 20, 2024 16:42 IST
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The entire Karunapuram locality in Kallakurichi on Thursday echoed with the wails of the family members of the victims of illicit arrack, that claimed the lives of at least 34 persons and left some children virtually orphaned.

IMAGE: A victim being taken to Kallakurichi Government Medical College. Photograph: ANI on X

Following the tragedy in the state's northern district, 100 others are being treated in various hospitals, authorities said.

Chief Minister M K Stalin said: "The Kallakurichi incident must not have happened and it has caused deep anguish to me."


The deaths were due to consumption of 'methanol mixed arrack', he said, adding he has directed authorities to ensure special care to those being treated in hospitals.

Stalin, who held a meeting to review the situation, announced setting up of a one-man commission to be led by retired Madras high court Judge B Gokuldas to make recommendations to the government on measures to be taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents and also look into the reasons for the deaths.

Four persons linked to the sale of the poisonous arrack have been arrested so far, Stalin said and declared Rs 10 lakh assistance to each of the families of the deceased.

Also, he announced Rs 50,000 assistance to those who are being treated in hospitals. The state Home Secretary and Director General of Police will submit a report on the hooch tragedy following inspection, he added.

He assured tough action against those who provided methanol for making the spurious concoction that became poisonous.

The entire Karunapuram, which has witnessed the deaths, including that of two women and one transgender, wore a gloomy look.

Heart-wrenching scenes, including that of a sobbing young girl, anxious relatives awaiting a medical update on their near and dear ones and women wailing in the streets were witnessed in this nondescript locality.

Leader of Opposition (LoP), Edappadi K Palaniswami visited the affected people, including three children who have lost both their parents.

According to locals, a contributing factor for the increase in death toll is the 'initial denial' of district authorities including police for several hours on Wednesday that the deaths, which were less than five at that time, were not due to 'illicit arrack'.

In the meanwhile, several others consumed illicit arrack and some of them had got stored in their houses.

Meanwhile, #Resign Stalin trended on social media platform 'X' and several users targeted the 'Dravidian model' tagline of the DMK regime by posting messages using the hashtag #Saraya model (arrack model).

State Bharatiya Janata Party president K Annamalai announced a state-wide protest on June 22 against the 'incompetence' of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government in curbing the production and sale of illicit liquor.

While the CBCID officials began their probe in Kallakurichi, Stalin said he had directed them to probe the source of methanol and its complete destruction at the local level. Authorities had already seized about 200 litres of illicit arrack and an analysis disclosed the presence of deadly methanol.

Health Minister Ma Subramanian and PWD minister E V Velu are in Kallakurichi to render help to the affected people. District Collector MS Prasanth said 116 people were admitted in various government-run facilities and out of them 34 died.

Palaniswami alleged the point of sale of illicit arrack 'is the central place of Kallakurichi, close to the police station and court'.

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief claimed '36 persons have died'.

Speaking to reporters Kallakurichi, he said there is a 'big gang' behind the sale of illicit arrack which also has the involvement of 'powerful persons' who belong to the ruling DMK.

"Otherwise, could the sale of illicit arrack happen in the central locality of the town and near the police station?" he asked.

Expressing anguish and recalling similar past incidents, he said his party legislator M Senthil Kumar (Kallakurichi Assembly constituency) had days ago complained about the menace of illicit arrack to local police. However, no action was taken.

On March 29, 2023, Senthil Kumar had submitted a call attention motion with Assembly officials. However, it was not taken up, he alleged. Had this been debated and action taken, such deaths could have been averted. "Illicit liquor is flowing like a river in Tamil Nadu."

Referring to three children who lost both their parents, he said his party will bear their educational expenditure and provide Rs 5,000 assistance to them for 10 years.

The financial assistance to the families of the deceased should be increased by the government from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 25 lakh and a government job should be provided to eligible persons in the affected families, he demanded.

Palaniswami visited the Kallakurichi government medical college hospital where several of the affected people are being treated and also the families of victims, consoled them and conveyed his condolences.

Senior Minister Velu said it should not be assumed as if 'illicit arrack sale' has happened only under the DMK rule and such incidents have been occurring during all the regimes.

"Every government (be it DMK or AIADMK governments) has taken tough action, this government has been taking stern action continuously," he told reporters.

Ruling DMK's allies -- the Communist Party of India and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) demanded tough legal action against those involved in the episode.

The Kallakurichi incident comes a year after the death of 21 persons, who died in nearby Villupuram and Chengalpet districts after consuming spurious liquor.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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