Indian police say they have arrested more than two dozen people on suspicion of selling tainted alcohol that has killed at least 86 people in recent days in the northwestern state of Punjab.
Six police officers and seven other officials have also been suspended for failure to prevent the sale of tainted liquor as a magistrate began an investigation into the deaths in three districts.
Police raided rural hamlets to break up a bootlegging cartel on Sunday. “We have conducted raids at more than 30 places today and we have detained six more persons,” Dhruman H Nimbale, a senior police officer in Punjab’s Tarn Taran district, told Reuters news agency.
Another official told AFP news agency that 11 people had died in Gurdaspur district. The Press Trust of India added that 12 people were killed in the neighbouring district of Amritsar and 63 in Tarn Taran.
Punjab state’s Police Chief Dinkar Gupta said the 25 suspects arrested over the incident supplied the tainted alcohol to roadside eateries from where it was sold to travellers and villagers.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he had ordered a special inquiry into the deaths and “anyone found guilty will not be spared”.