The death toll from consumption of toxic liquor at a Faisalabad party rose to 21 on Saturday. Another 24 people were being treated at Allied Hospital and Divisional Headquarters Hospital. Two of the patients reported loss of their eyesight.
Shahbaz, a resident of Chishtia Chowk, Gulzar, alias Hero, and George Masih, resident of Barkat Pura, had organised the party to celebrate the birth of a friend’s son on Thursday.
Liquor was served and the guests soon became ill and some of them fainted. The men were initially taken to a private hospital but their condition became critical and they were taken to the Divisional Headquarters Hospital, where they breathed their last.
A few hours later, two men who had also consumed liquor in the Batala Colony area were shifted to Allied Hospital in critical condition and soon died.
On receiving information, City Police Officer Abdur Razzaq Cheema went to Allied Hospital and ordered an inquiry into the matter.
Several similar incidents were reported later and 36 people, who had also consumed liquor, were admitted to the Divisional Headquarters Hospital and Allied Hospital.
Arif Masih, Zeeshan Masih and Qaisar Masih from Christian Town were also reported to have died from consuming the spurious liquor on Friday.
Gulberg police registered a case on the complaint of Sub Inspector Irfan. They arrested a woman who had supplied them the liquor.
Police said that as many as 21 people had died while 24 were undergoing treatment. The patients were mostly residents of Waris Pura and Barkat Pura.
Those who died in the hospitals include George Masih, Salman Abdus Sattar, Muhammad Shahzad, Naimat Masih, Nadeem Boota, Sajjad Lateef, Shahbaz Muneer Ahmad, Salman Arif Masih, Faisal Manzoor, Sunil Muneer, Baba Hero and Noma Masih.
Those who are still undergoing treatment include Yousaf Juma Masih, Majeed Masih, Yaqoob Aziz, Irfan Masih, Muhammad Ehsan Manzoor, Rasheed Emanuel, Shahzad Abdul Lateef, Naveed Bashir, Salman Azmat, Rana Razzaq, Ahmad Ezaz, Yasir Masih, Barkat Yousaf and Kashif Manzoor Gill. Ezaz Akhtar and Imran Abdur Rasheed fled from the Divisional Headquarters Hospital.
Batala Colony Police registered a case against 11 including Babar Masih alias Langra, Zafar alias Kala, Aslam alias Pappi, Taji Butt Ansari, Bhutto Masih, Shafaqat alias Shaqoo, Rana Billo, Majid Nai and Shakeel Jolianwala. The police have arrested Babar alias Langra and Bhutto Masih and are looking for others.
Batala Colony SHO told The Express Tribune that Taji Ansari was the main bootlegger in the area. Ansari had given the men liquor in cans that had previously carried chemicals. The contamination had caused the deaths, he said.
The SHO said, “Several police teams are looking for Ansari.”
It was a day of mourning in Waris Pura and Barkat Pura. The families of the deceased wept bitterly over the deaths.
Baboo Masih, a relative of the late George Masih, said that several gangs had been selling spurious liquor in the locality for a long time. “We complained to the police several times but they did not take action,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2013.