Bhadrak: At least seven people have died and 87 others were taken seriously ill in Odisha’s Bhadrak district on Tuesday after allegedly consuming spurious liquor along with meat at a feast organised a day after the fourth and final phase of polls were conducted in the state.
The victims belong to Tihidi and Chandbali blocks of the coastal district, where elections for both Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies were held on Sunday. Doctors said the condition of the people being treated at two hospitals remains critical.
“We received 32 patients with complaints of terrible stomach pain. Two of them were declared brought dead. Another died during treatment while another man was referred to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack,” said Dr BK Dash, the chief district medical officer (CDMO) of Bhadrak.
He declined to hold liquor consumption as the sole reason behind the deaths and illness of the patients. “There are several possible factors. There was a heat wave-like situation for the past few days. Besides, consumption of stale meat and liquor are other possible factors. The exact cause will be known after examination of the viscera of the dead people,” added Dr Dash.
“After the polls were over, a group of local youths held a feast to rejoice and consumed liquor there. They came back home in the night and slept outside their houses as it was too hot inside. They complained of severe stomach pain and headache in the wee hours and were rushed to hospitals, where seven of them died,” said a local youth on condition of anonymity. It was possible that the meat and liquor consumed at the feast was bought by cash given to the people by local politicians to influence the polls, he added.
Bhadrak district collector Gyana Das and Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Umakanta Moharana visited the hospitals at Tihidi and Bhadrak to take stock of the situation. The collector has ordered an administrative probe to ascertain the causes of the deaths and sickness. Police and excise department officials began conducting raids to find out where this liquor came from.
“Samples of liquor have been taken from the spot of the feast. A chemical analysis of these samples will be conducted to ascertain if the liquor was spurious,” said state excise department secretary Nikunja Bihari Dhal. As per rules, all liquor shops are closed 48 hours before the polls begin.
Meanwhile, the hooch tragedy sparked public protests in the area. Hundreds of people blocked the Bhadrak-Chandabali road for over two hours demanding a fast and impartial probe and strong action against people who facilitated the feast and supplied liquor.