Black Wednesday: Raw wine claims at least 20 lives in Karachi, more deaths feared

KARACHI: At least 20 people, including a cop, were dead and about two dozen others were in critical condition after drinking toxic raw wine in Karachi on Wednesday, which is dubbed as a ‘black Wednesday’.

Every year dozens of people die after consuming cheap raw poisonous wine in the city on the festive occasions like Eid, but the provincial government of Sindh do not take adequate steps to save the lives of poor working class people who drink this cheap alcohol made from extremely dangerous chemicals. The Excise and Taxation Department that is supposed to stop selling of illegal wine and other narcotics is amongst the most corrupt departments of Sindh province.

Joint Executive Director Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) Semin Jamali told PPI that most of the people who died were youth and they were brought from slum areas of Landhi, Korangi, Sharafi Goth, Zaman Town, Bilal Colony and Quaidabad.

“The people started arriving one after another in unconscious and critical condition before midnight on Tuesday and until midnight three people were pronounced dead. Eighteen people died by afternoon and 15 others are under treatment. Their condition is also critical,” she said.

She said that they were victim of the wine dens running illegally in the city, where Katchi (unripe) wine is being sold.

A policeman was also intoxicated to death after drinking poisonous alcohol in Korangi.

Policeman, Salman, 30, son of Dula Khan, fell seriously ill due to poisonous nature of alcohol on the third day of Eid-ul-Adha in Awami Colony, Korangi No 5, said rescue sources.

“He was admitted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center for medical treatment where he succumbed to his illness,” the sources said.

The sources further told that three people, Faisal, 24, Meraj, 32 and Imran, 19, from Landhi and Korangi also died later.

By the evening the death toll at JPMC alone was 20 and more than one dozen others fighting for their lives in emergency department and different wards. However, sources said the deaths of poisonous wine in Karachi were in dozens, but many victims were not brought in hospitals as their families feared police cases and social stigma.

It may be noted that recently more than two dozen people died in Hyderabad and Tandojam due to the use of poisonous wine.

The Sindh Excise and Taxation department is considered amongst the most corrupt departments of Sindh government. Recently, its minister Mukesh Kumar Chawala was changed, but it failed to bring any improvement in the performance of the department, as corrupt practices amongst its officers and staffers are deep-rooted.

Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has taken notice of the sad deaths and sought a report from government functionaries.

Inspector General Sindh Police Ghulam Hyder Jamali has directed additional IG Karachi to inquire the incident of the deaths due to unripe poisonous liquor in Karachi and arrest the people involved in illegal business of liquor.

IGP said the society should be made free of those evils by accelerating the operation against unripe liquor and drugs.

He further directed SSPs, SDPOs and SHOs of all the districts to perform their duties as expected and ensure crackdown against the people who were involved in such heinous business.

However, a Hindu body has demanded banning the alcohol business.

Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan Hindu Council, Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who also represents Hindu community in the National Assembly, has shown extreme reservations on the rejection of his Bill against the ongoing business of Alcohol Beverages on the name of Hindus and Non-Muslims throughout the country.

A press statement issued by the Pakistan Hindu Council on Wednesday informed that the bill, jointly moved to NA Standing Committee on Law, Justice & Human Rights by the minorities MNA, Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani from Hindu community and Ms. Asia Nasir, representing Christian community, was rejected by the committee on October 2.

Dr. Ramesh Kumar, giving references from Hindu Holy Book ‘Shrimad Baghwat Piran’, had clearly said that according to the teachings of Askand -2, Adhya – 17, Shilok – 38, 39, 40, 41, alcohol is strictly forbidden, emphasizing that decision-maker leaders are prohibited to drink it under any circumstances.

He further said that sale, production, importation and transportation of alcoholic beverages in Pakistan occurred under the banner of minorities which is strongly offensive and insulting, and called for either complete ban on Alcohol business in Pakistan or otherwise “open for all” irrespective of religions, if it is really such a beneficiary product.

Dr. Ramesh requested the Chairman of Committee, Chaudhry Mehmood Bashir Virk, to reconsider the bill for the best interest of Pakistani society.

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