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Probe launched into Gujarat deaths caused by ‘contaminated’ medicinal syrup

Gujarat health minister Rushikesh Patel told the media that preliminary investigation showed the syrup was chemically contaminated.

Representational Image (iStock)

By: Shubham Ghosh

OFFICIALS in the western Indian state of Gujarat are probing into the deaths of five people after they allegedly drank a contaminated medical syrup, sources in the state’s government and police on Thursday (30) said.

Police suspect the syrup contained methyl alcohol which is poisonous. The deaths took place in Gujarat’s Kheda district on Tuesday (28) and Wednesday (29), said the district’s superintendent of police, Rajesh Gadhiya. The deceased were suspected to have consumed `Kalmeghasav – Asava Arishta’, an ayurvedic syrup which was sold over the counter to nearly 50 people by a local grocery shop near Nadiad, the administrative centre of Kheda, the police official added.

According to officials, such medicinal syrups are sometimes misused by alcohol addicts. Notably, prohibition is in force in Gujarat. “While five persons lost their lives after consuming the syrup in the last two days, two are undergoing treatment. We have detained the shop owner and two others for questioning,” Gadhiya added. The police investigation was launched on Wednesday.

Gujarat health minister Rushikesh Patel told the media that preliminary investigation showed the syrup was chemically contaminated.

“Investigation has also shown that the syrup was brought from outside the state. We are conducting a detailed probe and initiating legal steps,” he said.

Some of the people who consumed the syrup developed symptoms such as vomiting, disorientation and chest pain, Prem Vir Singh, another senior police officer told Reuters.

“The syrup samples show traces of methyl alcohol, which may be the cause of death of the three persons who consumed it,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine practised by millions in India.

Singh added the name of the syrup as well as the manufacturer’s name and address on the bottle were fictitious.

“We have detained the seller and supplier of the contaminated syrup and are questioning them about the source of the medicine,” Singh said. He added that the Gujarat health department was also carrying out its own probe.

The World Health Organization and other health agencies have found since October last year that cough and cold syrups manufactured by several Indian companies were contaminated.

(With agencies)

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