Manzoor Naz

TOBA TEK SINGH -  A day after the mass liquor poisoning incident, the death toll rose to 39, with dozens others still being treated in Faisalabad and Toba Tek Singh hospitals on Tuesday.

The police said two of the deceased are Muslims while the rest are Christians who died after consuming homemade toxic liquor in Mubarakabad colony of Toba city.

“The men, mostly belong to the Christian community, drank liquor on the night of 25th December (Christmas night) and went home. Tragedy struck the next morning when many of them did not rise from their beds, while others got sick,” Locals and witnesses informed.

They said that on Monday when one of them Sajjad Maseeh died, all others who had also drunk liquor were rushed to DHQ hospital where the death toll kept on rising.

Till afternoon on Tuesday, Christians had presented five demands to the administration and had refused to bury their beloved ones until their demands are accepted. However, later talks were held between AC Muhammad Shafiq and Faisalabad Bishop Joseph Arshad where the AC assured that the demand for a judicial inquiry into the incident would be sent to Chief Minister’s Secretariat for approval. He also accepted the other four demands that included compensation to the bereaved families, payment of burial expenses to the heirs of deceased, arrest of the culprits who supplied toxic liquor and best treatment for under treatment persons. After successful talks, the Christians agreed to bury their deceased persons.

The City Police have registered case against unknown persons for supplying liquor.

Toba DHQ Hospital MS Dr Asif Hamid informed that a total of 104 persons were brought to the hospital, adding that 40 of the total affected persons were referred to Faisalabad hospitals. “As many as 17 persons died when they were being shifted to the hospital,” the MS informed.

He said that several persons are being treated in the hospital. He, however, feared that the death toll could increase.

Toba DPO Usman Akram Gondal and DCO Amer Ijaz Akbar visited the hospital and inspected the medical facilities being provided to the patients. They also visited the houses of deceased persons and condoled the deaths with the bereaved families.

MPAs - Mian Rafiq and Amjad Javed, Gojra Bishop Sameul John, Father Nisar Maseeh and other leaders of the Christian community remained in Muabrakabad Colony all the day on Tuesday till the burial of the deceased persons.

On the other hand, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has taken notice of the incident and ordered an inquiry to fix responsibility. He also sought a detailed report from the Toba DPO.