Toll in Kolkata spurious liquor tragedy rises to 19

January 5th, 2009 - 2:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Jan 5 (IANS) The number of those who died in Kolkata after consuming poisonous country-made liquor Saturday night has risen to 19, while several others were still battling for their lives Monday, police said. “Nineteen people have died so far,” city police chief Goutam Mohan Chakrabroty told IANS, adding four people have been arrested in connection with the incident.

The state government has also ordered a probe by the excise commissioner into the tragedy near Khidirpore in south-west Kolkata. The official has been asked to submit a report in three days.

Labourers at the Bibi Halt and Hooghly Basti areas of Khidirpore fell ill after a late night drinking session Saturday.

“Three persons died late Saturday night. The rest died Sunday and Monday morning. Several people developed symptoms late on Sunday night and died in the morning,” Deputy Commissioner (detective department) Jawed Shamim said.

Four people have been arrested and raids were on in several parts of the city to nab the culprits, Shamim said.

“We have also detained several people and are interrogating them,” Shamim said.

According to police sources, there are over 20 illegal country liquor shops in the area.

“We have raided the shops and collected liquor samples to detect the exact nature of poison in them. All bodies will be sent for post-mortem examination. An investigation has started and right action will be taken against the culprits,” Shamim said.

According to police sources, many slum dwellers in the area buy liquor from illegally-run shops.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who visited the area Sunday evening, demanded a probe by a sitting judge of the Calcutta High Court.

Banerjee threatened to lay siege to the West Port police station Tuesday if the culprits were not brought to book.

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