Toxic moonshine has killed 102 people and seriously sickened scores of others of drinkers from a Mumbai slum, Indian police say.
Forty-six others have been hospitalized, with many in a critical condition, after consuming the illegal homebrew, Mumbai police spokesman Dhananjay Kulkarni told CNN.
Authorities said four men and two women had been booked over the deaths, on charges including culpable homicide, poisoning and abetting a crime.
Eight local police have also been suspended for negligence, he said, while the suspect liquor has been sent for testing.
The incident took place near Laxmi Nagar, a large slum in Mumbai, India’s financial capital.
Deaths from cheap, illegally brewed liquor — often containing toxic methanol — are not uncommon in India.
The moonshine is typically brewed in villages before being smuggled into cities, where it sells for about 10 cents a glass — about a third the price of legally brewed liquor.
More than 160 people died from drinking a bad batch of moonshine in West Bengal in 2011, while in January, at least 25 people died and 125 were hospitalized after drinking illegal homebrew in Uttar Pradesh.
Drinking ‘to cope’
There were emotional scenes in Laxmi Nagar slum Monday as the body of another victim was returned to his family.
Loud wails came from a crowd of about 200 people which had gathered to see the body of Satyavel Nagan Kawander brought home.
Kawander, a 35-year-old day laborer, left behind a wife and three children under the age of 11, they said.
Nearby, a young boy who had lost his father had his head shaved, a traditional Hindu sign of mourning.
Many men in the desperately poor slum work as manual laborers, separating garbage or cleaning gutters, earning 50 — 100 rupees ($0.78-$1.57) a day, locals told CNN.
They tended to drink to cope with the stresses of their jobs dealing with garbage or human sewage, said Uma Chandra Harijan, whose husband, a gutter cleaner, is now battling for his life.
“They have to drink to get rid of the smell, to numb their senses,” she said, adding that her husband drank every night.
Harijan, who has a son, 3, and a 15-day-old daughter, also lost her father to the illegal moonshine.
Nearby, Jyoti Sangar Sankate was mourning her husband, who had been a drinker for years, she said.
“I don’t know what happened this time,” she said.
“He came home and vomited, said he was losing vision. His body started shaking. He died the same day.”
Locals pointed out two houses in the slum they said the local bootleggers operated from; both were closed Monday.