Deadly Drink Kills More Than 40 in India

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AP
Police say 43 people have died after drinking tainted home-brewed liquor over weekend in India.

S.S. Khandwawala, the director-general of police, says another 29 people are being treated in hospitals in Gujarat state's main city Ahmadabad.

The victims are mostly poor workers living in slums, he told reporters on Wednesday.

Deaths from drinking illegally brewed cheap alcohol are common in India, where few people can afford licensed liquor. The illicit liquor is often spiked with pesticides or chemicals to increase its potency.
In Gujarat, the problem is worse because the state law prohibits the sale of all liquor. Gujarat is the home state of India's independence leader, Mohandas Gandhi, who was a strong advocate of prohibition.

Most of the victims in Ahmadabad fell sick Sunday night in the Majur Gam and Odhav localities - slums inhabited by thousands of mostly poor laborers.

They included Arvind Solanki who allegedly brewed the tainted drink in his home and sold it to the workers, said Saikia.

Solanki, his son and another relative drank the liquor to prove it was of good quality after some customers complained about the brew's bitter taste, a police officer said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

All three died in the hospital, the officer said.

On Tuesday night, angry residents attacked police with stones in the area, accusing them of turning a blind eye to illicit home breweries. Police fired tear gas at the protesters.

Police have raided homes in the area, but had yet to make any arrests, Saikia said.

In 1980, 128 people died after drinking the tainted liquor in Majur Gam.