Seven people died and at least 15 are admitted to a hospital after consuming toxic liquor in a village in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered action against those responsible under the stringent Gangster Act.
The tragedy took place on Friday in Amilia village.
Locals say the victims consumed country liquor from a government-licensed shop last night. Soon after, several people fell ill. The husband-wife duo who ran the liquor shop have been arrested.
The Chief Minister has "directed to take action against those selling toxic liquor under the Gangster Act and their property to be seized", a government statement said, adding the property would be auctioned to provide financial help to the families of victims.
Earlier, Prayagraj District Magistrate Bhanu Chandra Goswami the exact cause of the deaths can be confirmed only after autopsies and sample reports of the liquor.
"A team of district officials reached Amilia village after receiving information about the deaths due to consumption of illicit liquor," the official said adding that the samples of liquor have been sent for testing.
Local residents told reporters that the liquor shop owners have a number of cases against them for selling smuggled liquor and yet they have around three liquor shops in the area.
"Even after selling stolen liquor and fake liquor, these people have been running three shops in the area, there are so many cases against them," a local says.
An elderly woman, whose son has been admitted to the hospital, says that her son Anil fell ill soon after drinking liquor.
"He fell ill after drinking liquor today from the shop in Amilia village," the woman said holding back her tears.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra lashed out at the Yogi Adityanath government in the state over recent deaths due to toxic liquor.
"Several deaths due to poisonous liquor have taken place in UP in Lucknow, Firozabad, Hapur, Mathura and Prayagraj. There were also deaths in Agra, Baghpat and Meerut. Why has the government failed to take action against the poisonous liquor mafia, apart from some pretentious steps? Who is responsible?" Ms Vadra tweeted.
The District Magistrate said the case is being investigated and if found guilty, the culprits will be punished.
"Strict action has been taken against all culprits including government officers on the directions of Chief Minister... Action is being taken against all the concerned persons including the licensee, Shyam Babu Jaiswal of village Amaliya, Prayagraj who are found responsible for yesterday's incident," Additional Chief Secretary of Excise in UP Sanjay Bhoosreddy said in a statement. "Suspension and departmental action is also being taken against Sandeep Bihari Modwel DEO, Vijai Pratap Yadav, Inspector and Suresh Kumar, Head Constable of Prayagraj," the official said.
Last year, over a 100 people died in Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Uttarakhand leading to the arrest of over 130 people for selling and manufacturing illegal liquor.
Since 2011, over 175 people have died in eight adulterated tragedies across UP.