Seven persons died, while five fell ill in the last two days after allegedly consuming an alcohol-based homeopathy medicine as a replacement for liquor in Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur district, police said on Thursday.
The deaths were reported from a locality in Kormi village under the Sirgitti police station area, an official said.
Of the seven victims, four died at their homes in the village late on Tuesday night, while three others succumbed in two hospitals on Wednesday afternoon, Bilaspur Superintendent of Police Prashant Agrawal said.
As per the preliminary investigation, Kamlesh Dhuri, 32, Akshya Dhuri, 21, Rajesh Dhuri, 21, and Samru Dhuri, 25, had consumed Drosera-30, a homeopathy syrup with about 91 per cent alcohol content, on Tuesday night, following which their condition deteriorated and they died, he said.
Suspecting that they died of COVID-19 infection, their families performed their last rites the next morning without informing the authorities, he said.
Khemchand Dhuri, 40, Kailash Dhuri, 50, and Dipak Dhuri, 30, had also consumed the same medicine and were taken to different hospitals in Bilaspur, where they died during treatment, the official said.
On being alerted about the deaths, a police team rushed to the village on Wednesday evening, and found that five other locals, who had consumed the syrup, were in a critical condition, he said.
Four of them were shifted to the Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS) Bilaspur and another to a private hospital, Prashant Agrawal said.
A probe revealed they had got the syrup from a homeopathy practitioner near the village, he added.
“Prima facie, it seems like the deceased had consumed the syrup in excess as a substitute for liquor. However, the exact cause of the deaths will be known once the post-mortem report arrives,” the official said.
A case has been registered and further investigation is underway, he added.