June 21, 2015- Toxic homemade liquor killed almost a 100 slum dwellers in India’s financial capital Mumbai in the latest disaster involving moonshine.
Police arrested five people in connection with the deaths in a western neighborhood of the city, on the west coast of India as Mumbai’s deputy police commissioner Dhananjay Kulkarni warned of an increase in death tolls siting that more than 150 people had consumed that alcohol; also adding that eight police officials had been suspended for suspected negligence.
Homemade liquor, often using poisonous industrial methanol, is popular among the poor in India because it is cheap. Similar deaths due to consumption of such harmful liquor had caused deaths of almost 140 people in Gujarat in 2009 (incidentally a dry state), while more than a 100 people were killed in West Bengal in eastern India in 2011. The death toll in Karnataka hit 180 in May 2008; Hyderabad, in southern India and Karachi, Pakistan also saw such deaths in March this year. Mumbai’s last major hooch catastrophe in 2004, caused the demise of 89 people in Vikhroli.
Similar incidents have occurred worldwide in Indonesia, Haiti, Burma, Australia, USA, among many others affecting mostly the economically backward section of the society. But as Vikas Amte, a social activist from Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district puts it “People demand alcohol because they get addicted, and I have seen people seek out cheap hooch even if they can afford licensed country liquor. This is because hooch is a stronger drink and addiction makes people want a bigger kick whenever they drink.”