In the space of just a few short days

In the space of just a few short days

Diamond Harbour : India | Dec 20, 2011 at 11:06 PM PST
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A relative of Indian toxic liquor victim Sirajul Mollah is pictured in Padder Haat village, south of Kolkata

In the space of just a few short days, the end-knit community of Sangrampur in eastern India - with a number of smaller surrounding villages - was devastated by a case of mass poisoning by toxic, alcohol from beer home.

So far 170 people have died, almost exclusively men, most of which were the only breadwinner in families already struggling with life on the poverty line.

"Right now, it feels like all roads lead to the cemetery," said Abdul Mannan Gayen, who lost two sons and a third fights for his life in the hospital with more than 100 other villagers in a criticalsick.

In India, disasters - fires, floods, earthquakes, epidemics - often leads to their heaviest toll among the poor, who live in vulnerable communities in the densely packed houses in the badly built, improvised .

But the tragedy that struck the district around Sangrampur in the state of West Bengal was particularly devastating in its narrow focus.

The liquor or "bad liquor" illegal, home-distilled products were fermented in these places for decades, catering to male clientele un'impoverito workers, rickshaw drivers and farmers unable to afford branded alcohol.

On Tuesday evening, measures half-liter of liquor poor - both costing as little as 10 cents American - have been drunk and has been divided since they are the most nights.

The hospital Wednesday morning, local already struggling with the chronically ill and dying and the next few days have seen the dawn of the number of victims inexorably from 50 to 100, 150 and below.

Those who died, died painfully, the wracked by cramps, vomiting and diarrhea - leaving behind their wives and children who now faces a future danger.

"We are ruined," said Roserana Naska, whose husband died on Wednesday after drinking toxic alcohol from the batch of methanol-connect to the home of a relative who was celebrating the birth of her second child.

"We have nothing now. As soon as our house and I do not know how we can keep this," said Naska, who has four young children.

Bibi Jhunu, a 30-year-old mother of four, has failed as he contemplated life after the death of her husband whose body was brought home from the hospital Friday night.

"I do not know what to do. I have to continue because of the children. How did I have?" he said.

Anwar Bibi recently-married and now a widower, 23, said he had no choice but to return to the months of his father's house just after starting to begin a new life with her husband, a tailor.

"My life has gradually been brought," he said.

In the district as Grand Hospitaller, in the town of Diamond Harbour, the bodies were placed out of Saturday, the small morgue with the ease unable to cope with the number of deaths.

"We are helpless," said hospital superintendent Chiranjib Murmu."These things are so toxic, there is really no treatment." From the time it takes people here are dying already. Do not respond to any medication, "he said.

The day after the poison first surfaced, the sick were brought, however, going the opposite way to the hospital and rickshaws ferrying bodies of carts pulled by horses also back to their home villages.

Among the pain, the anger was also intense. Friday evening, a mob ransacked the house of a man who controlled a string of apparently illegal distilleries in the area.

Methanol, an extremely toxic form of alcohol used as antifreeze or fuel, is often added to smuggle liquor in India as a cheap, fast to increase the alcohol content.

If the dosage is too high, resulting in a fermentation process that can cause fatal blindness and death.

Equally toxic, social workers say, is the collusion of local police and the politicians who take a substantial cut of the profits to turn a blind eye to the home work of "bad liquor".

"While the hunt is on for manufacturers ... you need to realize that they are of slightly smaller teeth in a much larger wheel criminal," the Hindustan Times said in an editorial Saturday.

"By running this racket well-oiled, these manufacturers and distributors of these fake liquor take support from the very same people who are supposed to stop such activities," the newspaper said.


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In the space
In the space of just a few short days
Muhammad Reyan is based in Karāchi, Sind, Pakistan, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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