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Tamil Nadu Hooch Tragedy: 34 Dead, CM Orders Probe and Swift Action

Tamil Nadu Hooch Tragedy: Grief envelops the town of Kallakurichi in Tamil Nadu, located about 240 km from Chennai, as the death toll from Wednesday’s hooch tragedy rises to 34 and is expected to increase

The tragedy, which many saw as inevitable due to rampant illicit liquor sales, has claimed the lives of numerous daily-wage workers who resorted to consuming cheaper, spurious liquor due to the unaffordability of Indian Made Foreign Liquor available at Tasmac (The Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation) outlets. Victims fell ill after consuming illicit liquor sold in two huts.

Three individuals have been arrested in connection with the tragedy. Local residents have voiced their frustration, stating that the police failed to act against the widespread sale of illicit liquor.

The calamity struck late Tuesday night. Heart-wrenching scenes of women mourning their lost loved ones were broadcast on news channels. Many were seen either rushing to view the bodies or clinging to their deceased kin. Out of the over 100 people hospitalized, at least 14 are reported to be in critical condition.

According to Puthiya Thalamurai news channel, Praveen was the first to be hospitalized after consuming the illicit liquor around 11 am. He experienced eye burns and stomach ache an hour later. Initially turned away by doctors who assumed he was merely drunk, he succumbed after several hours without treatment. His relative also died after consuming the same liquor.

The deceased have been identified as P. Jagatheesan, S. Vadivukkarasi, R. Suresh, C. Kandhan, V. Ayyavu, R. Murugan, P. Dhanakodi, R. Kuppusamy, K. Ramakrishnan, R. Lakshmi, G. Subramani, C. Anandhan, K. Manikandan, K. Sekar, D. Suresh, G. Praveen Kumar, M. Arumugam, T. Ramu, K. Indira, P. Subramani, U. Noorbasha, C. Krishnamoorthy, M. Selvam, K. Gopal, S. Kannan, K. Ganesan, K. Jagadheeswaran, A. Poovarasan, and A. Narayanasamy.

Chief Minister MK Stalin has ordered a CBCID investigation into the matter and held a review meeting with ministers. The CBCID has formed multiple teams to probe the incident. Laboratory tests revealed the presence of deadly methanol in the arrack samples. Officials have expressed concern that the death toll may rise.

CM Stalin, expressing shock and grief over the deaths in a post on ‘X,’ vowed to tackle such crimes with an “iron fist.” He assured immediate action against those involved and urged people to share information to prevent such tragedies. The government has announced an inquiry commission and an ex gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh each to the victims’ families.

The Madras High Court is set to hear an urgent petition on the tragedy on Friday. In response to the incident, Kallakurichi District Superintendent of Police Samay Singh Meena has been suspended, and Kallakurichi Collector Sravan Kumar Jatavath has been transferred. Rajat Chaturvedi will replace SS Meena, and MS Prashant has been appointed the new Kallakurichi District Collector. The entire Kallakurichi District Prohibition Police force has also been transferred by the Tamil Nadu government.

Senior Minister A V Velu is currently in Kallakurichi to assess the situation.

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