Preliminary investigations have indicated that methyl alcohol or methanol was used to make hoes that left 46 people dead in four separate incidents in the span of eight days that rocked dry Bihar during the festival season earlier this month.
The deaths occurred in rural areas of Gopalganj, West Champaran, Samastipur and Muzaffarpur districts.
Although Chief Minister Nitish Kumar reviews the situation on November 16, experts question whether the loss of so many lives in rapid succession in much of the state could be solely due to the failure of the ban on alcohol or conspiracy as well. mixed up with it.
âWe received information about the use of the spirit in the village of Telhua in western Champaran, where the heifer tragedy occurred. This is a new and alarming thing and we are checking it, because its availability in rural areas means an outside hand, âChamparan Channel’s Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Pranav Kumar Praveen, told the Telegraph.
A total of 16 people had died in and around Telhua village during Diwali after consuming fake liquor. Several others had to be hospitalized, some of whom lost their sight.
Likewise, 19 people died in Muhammadpur and neighboring villages in Gopalganj district last week after allegedly consuming hooch.
Gopalganj District Magistrate Nawal Kishor Choudhary, while raiding with Police Commissioner (SP) Anand Kumar, suspected the consumption of alcohol or methyl alcohol, despite seizing fermented jaggery and substances used in the manufacture of alcohol.
In total, 275 people were arrested, a station agent (SHO) and seven village chowkidars were suspended, 105 FIR registered, 2100 liters of alcohol, Rs 8 lakh in cash and 34 vehicles were seized during the raids. .
âWe strongly suspect that the use of methyl alcohol is the reason for the hooch tragedy. We try to trace back links. The same substance was used during the hookah tragedy which occurred in Vijaypur district in February, âGopalganj SP Anand Kumar told this newspaper.
Police and excise officials in Samastipur and Muzaffarpur also suspected methyl alcohol consumption as the cause of the deaths. Right now, they’re all waiting for autopsy reports and viscera to come to the final conclusion.
Methyl alcohol or methanol is considered highly toxic. If consumed, it leads to vomiting, loss of vision, irreversible damage to the central nervous system and various organs of the body leading to death. Industrially, it is used in the manufacture of a large number of compounds used in synthetic dyes, paints, resins, pharmaceuticals, perfumes, antifreeze and as a general solvent.
Methanol is also used to make ethanol (the main ingredient in alcoholic beverages) unfit for human consumption so that it can only be used for industrial purposes.
âIt is impossible for a person to have died due to the consumption of country alcohol or alcohol illegally brewed locally from mahua flowers, jaggery or rice. These have been used in Bihar since ancient times without anyone losing their lives. The only reason behind the recent deaths could be the use of methyl alcohol, âsaid Nawal Kishore Singh, a former alcohol trader and a name well known among former alcohol makers, suppliers and traders in Bihar and South Africa. Jharkhand.
Singh also claimed that the consecutive clogging incidents indicated that someone had deliberately supplied methyl alcohol to different parts of Bihar – either out of greed or to discredit Prohibition.
âLooking at a longer period of time, seven or eight hooch tragedies have occurred in the state in the past 20 days and about 60 or more people have died there. The most relevant aspect is that the people who were selling fake liquor were not getting ethyl alcohol, that they would have easily obtained from so many sweets or molasses and would not have caused death or blindness. Instead, they got methyl alcohol, âSingh added.
Arguing that it’s virtually impossible for a layman to tell the difference between ethyl and methyl alcohols – hence, they wouldn’t have known what they were using.
Another alcohol source, who had been active during the pre-ban era (alcohol was completely banned in Bihar as of April 2016), pointed out that the ban was flouted statewide with impunity by the link between the Mafia, the police, the excise agents and frequented by some politicians.
âThey make money with alcohol. Why would they harm their own interests by providing poisoned alcohol? They would rather like to preserve their profession. You can understand one or two incidents per year, but suddenly so many incidents? Maybe someone or a group gave them methyl alcohol without being suspected, âhe said.
The source alluded to the need to investigate former alcohol barons and even some special interests of opposition parties or disgruntled elements of the government to shed light on the deaths.
About 100 people have died in Bihar tragedies this year.