Guwahati: The death toll in the Assam hooch tragedy rose to 143 on Sunday after more people died in hospitals in Golaghat and Jorhat districts, authorities said.
While 85 people (54 men, 31 women) died in Golaghat, 58 others (43 men, 15 women) died in Jorhat till Sunday evening. “A total of 85 people died in Golaghat district after consuming spurious liquor… Close to 100 people are undergoing treatment in Golaghat. The rush of new patients has come down since the afternoon,” said Golaghat Deputy Commissioner Dhiren Hazarika.
The Deputy Commissioner of Jorhat Roshni Korati said 58 people had died in the district till Sunday due to the hooch tragedy. A total of 160 people are undergoing treatment at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH). The conditions of 16 of them are stated to be critical,” she said.
The Excise Department has been carrying out a series of operations against illegal country liquor sellers across the state. Many country liquors shops have been destroyed by the people, particularly women, following the tragedy. Civil society groups along with the public have taken to the streets across Assam demanding stern punishment against those selling spurious liquor.
A senior spokesperson of the Excise Department said that 90 cases have been registered against unauthorized sale and production of hooch and violation of excise law. “We have seized and destroyed 4,860 litre of illegal liquor since February 22,” he said. The tragedy struck the tea gardens of Golaghat and Jorhat after a large number of people consumed spurious liquor on Thursday night at the Salmora tea estate in Golaghat, 300 km from here, and in two villages in Jorhat district.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those undergoing treatment. He also instructed Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police of both Jorhat and Golaghat districts to make all necessary arrangements to provide relief to the affected families.