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Indian police arrest 25 people after tainted alcohol leaves 69 dead

Indian police have arrested 25 people on suspicion of selling “spurious” alcohol that has left at least 69 dead in Punjab.

A state government statement said six police officers and seven other government officials have been suspended for failure to prevent the sale of the tainted liquor.

A magistrate has started a probe into the deaths reported in the districts Tarn Taran, Amritsar and Batala in northern Punjab state.

Police officer Roshan Lal said 69 deaths have been confirmed but local media reports put the number at 86.

Dinkar Gupta, police chief for the state, said the first five deaths were reported on Wednesday night in two villages in Amritsar district.

Over the past three days, another 48 deaths were reported in the three districts, Mr Lal told the Associated Press.

Mr Gupta said those arrested used to supply the tainted alcohol to roadside eateries, from where it was sold to travellers and villagers.

A state government statement said the deaths were due to “spurious” liquor and a crackdown on illegal alcohol manufacturing in the state was ordered.

Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol are common in India, where the poor cannot afford licensed brands from government-run shops.

Illicit liquor is cheap and often spiked with methanol to increase potency.

In 2019, at least 133 people died after drinking tainted liquor in two separate incidents in India’s northeast Assam state.

The victims were mostly tea plantation workers.

That same year, another 80 people died from tainted liquor in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

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