Toll in killer brew up at 188, kingpin held

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Chennai/Bangalore, May 22 (UNI) The death toll in the hooch tragedy today rose to 188 with eight more deaths reported from Karnataka and seven in Tamil Nadu, even as police arrested the kingpin responsible for the sale of the killer brew.

In Tamil Nadu, seven more people succumbed five days after consuming the brew at Hosur in Krishnagiri District taking the toll in the state to 53 today.

More than 25 people were being treated at the Hosur Government Hospital. Fresh cases with complaints of irritation in the eyes were also reported.

With eight more deaths reported today, the toll in Karnataka rose to 135.

According to police sources, the fresh deaths were reported from Hoskote (5) and Anekal (3) in Bangalore Rural District.

In Kolar, which reported 33 deaths, the condition of those admitted to hospitals was stabilising. More than 100 people were undergoing treatment in the city, Bangalore Rural and Kolar districts.

Five people-two from Hoskote and three from D G Halli in the city, were admitted to hospitals today.

Meanwhile, the Excise Department sleuths continued to raid illicit liquor dens and destroyed more than 500 litres of the killer brew in Bangalore Rural District alone.

Sources said at least 20 to 30 people from Tamil Nadu had become blind after they consumed the brew on May 17 at Solur village in Karnataka and the next day at Billamangalam in Krishnagiri district.

Meanwhile, Sounder, who allegedly supplied the killer brew was nabbed by the Central Crime Bureau (CCB) of the Karnataka Police.

Police sources told UNI a special CCB team nabbed Sounder and his wife at Namakkal Town in Tamil Nadu where they were hiding after the the hooch started claiming a large number of lives.

Sounder was being brought to Bangalore for questioning. He used to sell the spurious liquor through his associates in the border areas of Tamil Nadu and in rural and slum areas of Karnataka.

The Karnataka government has suspended as many 21 officials, including nine police personnel and 12 from the Excise Department, for failure to check the trade in illicit brew.

The State Drug Department which examined the samples of the hooch, said methanol or methyl alcohol was mixed with the liquor.

Karnataka State Human Rights Commission Chairman S R Naik today directed the state government to submit its action taken report by June 16 on the tragedy.

Speaking to reporters at Bangalore, he said the Commission had instructed the Chief Secretary to send his report on the circumstances leading to the tragedy.

The government should also come out with details whether there was any lapse on the part of the officials and the action taken against them.

If the Commission was not satisfied with the report, it would investigate the tragedy on its own or ask for a CoD, CBI or judicial inquiry, he said.

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