Tainted Alcohol Kills 143 in India

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Tainted Alcohol Kills 143 in India

By Luke Walker 12/15/11

Dozens more are critically ill, due to the latest batch of poisonous booze from ruthless, bribing breweries.

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At least 143 people have died and dozens more are being treated for poisoning in the Indian state of West Bengal, after drinking from a toxic batch of alcohol laced with insecticide. Bootleg alcohol—known as "desi daroo," or country-made liquors—is commonly sold in India, and consumed primarily by the rural poor and migrant workers. It can bought by the bottle or can for as little as ten rupees (20 US cents), hence its popularity. The illegal breweries responsible for this and other recent cases of poisonous booze, causing numerous deaths in India, are said to bribe local law enforcement in order to operate with impunity. "There is an officer nominated for collecting the bribe. We call this person the 'dak master.' In every law enforcement office, there is one 'dak master'. If you pay him, you can carry on with your activity," says BBC correspondent Amitabha Bhattasali. To increase profits, the illegal breweries and distilleries sometimes resort to extremely hazardous methods of extending a batch, including mixing the liquor with insecticide, as happened in this latest case.

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