A mother mourns the death of her son from toxic liquor (photo by Sunny Gill)
Police have arrested two liquor suppliers in the Pakistan city of Karachi following the deaths of 18 people last week. The incident echoes a similar case two weeks ago in Faisalabad where 26 people died from drinking contaminated liquor.
The search is on for the makers of the Karachi alcohol, which Mohammad Sarwar, head officer at a Karachi police station, said was made illegally. “Police have also raided various places to arrest the owner of this business; hopefully soon he will be arrested,” Sarwar said.
The alcohol was consumed mostly by residents of the Azam Basti area of the city, which is predominantly Christian. Two policemen also died, as did two Muslim men. They all fell ill between August 9 and 11.
“My brother-in-law and cousin both died after drinking the liquor on Saturday night,” said resident Adan Francis. He said that by early morning on Sunday their health had declined. “They were vomiting nonstop and convulsing. After reaching hospital both of them died during treatment.”
Police have warned of a potential rise in the death toll, given that six people remain seriously ill.
The contamination occurred during the Muslim festival of Eid. Arif Khokhar, secretary of the Pakistan People’s Party minority wing, said the government should look into arresting illegal homemade liquor makers throughout the country.
“Closure of wine shops at Eid led these people to buy homemade liquor,” he said. “I am worried for the people who bought this poisonous liquor and are unaware of it”.
Twenty six people died after being admitted to hospitals in the Barkat Pura and Warispura districts of Faisalabad two weeks ago after drinking toxic liquor. Father Iftikhar Moon, from the Holy Rosary Church in Faisalabad, said that memorial services for the dead were still ongoing.