Fourteen persons have died at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh after drinking spurious liquor, a top official said on Thursday.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan ordered a high- level probe into the incident.
"Fourteen people have died after consuming spurious liquor in Ujjain since yesterday morning," state Home Department's Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Dr Rajesh Rajora told PTI.
"We have arrested the prime accused, a bootlegger named Younis, who had boarded a bus at Indore and was fleeing to Agra," Mr Rajora said. Some other petty bootleggers too have been held, he said, adding that he was on his way to Ujjain for further probe.
The liquor the victims allegedly drank was made from "ginger-tincture", an anti-freeze industrial chemical which contains methanol, the ACS said.
The victims were mostly beggars or poor labourers and lived in areas falling under three police stations- Kharakuwa, Jeevajiganj and Mahakal, Ujjain Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Rupesh Dwivedi said.
Following the incident, Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Singh suspended Kharakuwa police station's inspector MS Meena, Sub Inspector Niranjan Sharma and constables Nawaz Saeed and Sheikh Anwar, the ASP said.
Ujjain's Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO) Mahaveer Khandelwal had earlier said that eleven people were brought to a local hospital in critical condition. "None of them survived for more than 15 minutes after being brought," he added.
Ujjain Collector Ashish Singh said there would be a crack-down against those who sell toxic liquor and they would be charged under the stringent National Security Act (NSA).
Chief Minister Chouhan called an urgent meeting of top officials at his residence in Bhopal.
He ordered a probe by a Special Investigation Team headed by ACS Rajesh Rajora into the incident, the CM's office said.
"If such a thing is being sold elsewhere, police should find it out and prosecute the offenders severely,"Mr Chouhan said.
"People selling poisonous substances are enemies of society. They should be punished severely. Efforts should be made to send such people to the gallows," he added.