As of yesterday, it’s estimated that at least 130 people died after drinking bootleg liquor in the Indian provinces of Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. Around 200 more patients are currently being treated in hospitals after ingesting the alcohol. Officials have opened an inquiry into the incident to find out the source of the liquor, the reasons for the sale, and how to stop it.
Because authorities didn’t know about the moonshine, there were no safety regulations on how it was made. Bootleggers can sell the liquor at a significantly lower price than alcohol in stores, so it’s quite appealing to those with a low incomes. In India, producers usually add methanol to increase their mixture’s strength. Methanol is found in many industrial products, and it is very toxic: it can cause nausea, induce seizures, and lead to vision loss.
On Sunday, 35 people were reported dead due to alcohol poisoning. A few days later, it was found that 100 more died in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand from the same cause. A significant portion of the victims were women who worked on tea plantations. Authorities have opened an investigation into the matter, and ten people have been arrested over the bootleg liquor. Police found the home where the toxic moonshine was produced, and they have recovered one and a half litres of it.
Doctors are still not sure what exactly the ingredients of the illegal alcohol were. All they know is that there’s something in there that is strong enough to cause organ failure. In order to give better treatment, experts from Guwahati city were brought in to analyze the contents of the liquor. Once they know what exactly was in the moonshine, they can administer more effective treatments.
Unfortunately, poisoning from bootleg liquor is common in rural areas in India. Without proper regulations, it’s easy to see why you shouldn’t buy illegal alcohol, especially if it’s dirt cheap. However, we don’t know the specific circumstances of the people who did purchase the liquor, so we shouldn’t be so quick to judge their choices. After a long day of work on the tea plantations, it’s understandable that they want to have a drink to relax.