About a dozen people died within a span of 12 hours from Wednesday morning to late night in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh amid allegations that the casualties took place due to consumption of illicit liquor, or hooch.
The district administration, however, said most of the deaths were natural.
The incident took place on the outskirts of Deva and Ramnagar where few people had gathered and reportedly consumed country spirit.
“According to our information, one Arjan of Deva locality was ill and some people had visited him on Tuesday night. Chicken was cooked for the guests, who demanded that they be served alcohol with the food,” Barabanki DM Akhilesh Tiwari said on Thursday.
“Six bottles of spirit were procured,” Tiwari added.
While three people died because of consuming spirit, he added. The deceased were identified as Avnish (40), Kanshi Ram (45) and Ram Suresh (35).
Tiwari said two people died of cold, one of heart attack and the others because of ‘other reasons’, he added.
According to reports, 11 people were rushed to Deva community health centre and Barabanki district hospital in the wee hours of Wednesday.
While three died in the morning, the others succumbed later in the day at Lohia Hospital and Trauma Centre in Lucknow.
Three are still struggling for life in Lucknow and according to doctors, one has lost eyesight.
“We have sealed the spirit shop from where the alcohol was procured and are inquiring in the matter,” said Barabanki SP Anil Singh, adding that the bodies were also sent for postmortem to ascertain the actual cause of the deaths.
Meanwhile, the government on Thursday announced an exgratia amount of `2 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.
“A joint team of the excise and home department will probe the incident,” Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted later in the evening.
Adityanath has also asked officials to ensure that those taken ill are given proper treatment and has ordered an inquiry by a joint team of excise and home department officials, according to an official statement.