Patna: With one more death reported early Sunday, the toll rose to 11 in the illicit liquor tragedy in the Bihar capital Patna, police said.
"At least 11 people have died in the Mehandiganj area of Patna after consuming moonshine Friday," a police official said.
Initially, authorities denied that the deaths were caused by adulterated liquor. They attributed the tragic death of mostly poor people to cold wave conditions sweeping through the city.
Bihar Road Construction Minister Prem Kumar downplayed the deaths by alleging a conspiracy behind the incident. Even Chief Minister Nitish Kumar refused to comment on the tragedy.
However, Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Amrit Raj said that Mehandiganj police station chief Sujay Viyarthi has been suspended following the deaths. Two first information reports were also lodged against those engaged in the manufacturing and sale of illicit liquor.
Police said that more than a dozen people have been detained for questioning in the case.
"Police officials are hand in glove with those manufacturing and selling moonshine in the city. There are more than 50 outlets selling hooch in the full knowledge of police," alleged activist Mahendra Yadav.
"Even the excise department failed to crack down on hooch sellers in and around Patna. But a hype was created by the state government that it was acting against the liquor mafia," Yadav said.