The death toll in the Mumbai hooch tragedy has crossed 100, with the latest estimates putting the number at 104 dead and 40 others still hospitalised.
Many of them are on ventilator support, and the death toll is expected to climb in the coming days.
This is the worst such case in Maharashtra in over a decade — 87 people had died from a similar incident in 2004.
The case had come to light last week when some people consumed locally-produced liquor at a bar in Malwani area on Wednesday night. The next day, several people were rushed to hospital for methanol poisoning.
Police have launched an investigation headed by the Crime Branch, following which several people have been arrested, including eight policemen, four of whom were suspended by the excise department for negligence. Preliminary reports indicate that the supply of methanol meant for distribution to only legally registered alcohol manufacturers was instead routed to bootleggers by the Gujarat methanol mafia.
“Methanol suppliers from Gujarat, who are suspected to part of a big mafia network, are now the prime target. They supply methanol to various cities, including Mumbai. We have made seven arrests in this connection including two women... and more arrests are likely,” a Mid-Day report quoted a Crime Branch official as saying.
The alcohol is locally brewed in slums and forested areas of the city, and supplied by a network of bootleggers who operate in the dead of the night.
Over 100 wives of men who regularly consume alcohol in large quantities have come forward to help police to crack down on such moonshine suppliers. Several of these women include widows of those who lost their lives in Wednesday's hooch tragedy.
Meanwhile Maharashtra education minister Vinod Tawde has announced a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh each for the family of the dead.