More than 100 people have died across two states in India after drinking bootleg alcohol, officials say, sparking a police crackdown and political recriminations.
While there is a thriving and well-established trade in hooch in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Uttarakhand, it is the first time in years that a string of poisonous batches has had such a devastating and deadly impact.
Those poisoned in the past four days fell sick at prayer meetings, weddings and other mass gatherings mostly in Saharanpur in UP and Haridwar in Uttarakhand, as well as in villages all along the border of the neighbouring states.
Dharam Singh, a 36-year-old Saharanpur resident, told the Indian Express that he was aware of five victims in his family alone. One, his brother Gulab, had died.
“There are four or five people in our village that engage in selling this liquor,” he said. “It is an open secret. One of them sold it to our family members on Thursday. We rushed them to the hospital but my youngest brother couldn’t make it.”