At least three persons, including two grocers, have been arrested, days after five persons died due to suspected consumption of an Ayurvedic syrup containing methanol sold by their shop in Gujarat’s Kheda district, police said on Saturday.
Two others, who had supplied bottles of the syrup, are yet to be arrested. The shop had sold bottles of the syrup to at least 50 persons, as per the preliminary investigation. A five-member special investigation team (SIT) led by Deputy Superintendent of Police, Nadiad, was formed to investigate the case, said Kheda district Superintendent of Police Rajesh Gadhiya.
”We have arrested Kishor Sodha and his brother Ishwar Sodha, the owners of the grocery store which sold the suspected syrup to the victims. When the duo was questioned, they identified one Yogesh Sindhi as the person who supplied them with the syrup. All three were arrested yesterday (Friday),” Gadhiya told reporters.
Sindhi disclosed the names of Nitin Kotwani and Bhavesh Shevkani from whom he had procured bottles of the syrup before Diwali. The duo, who hail from Vadodara city, are wanted in this connection, he said.
Gadhiya said since the syrup bottles bore duplicate labels of manufacturers and marketers to mislead the people, police have added a section pertaining to forgery under the Indian Penal Code to the FIR.
An FIR (First Information Report) was registered at Nadiad rural police station on Friday evening on the charges of culpable homicide, poisoning, and forgery among others after five persons died in Bilodara and Bagdu villages on November 28 and 29. The deceased were suspected to have consumed `Kalmeghasav – Asavarishta’, sold over the counter, to nearly 50 people by the grocery shop owned by the Sodha brothers from Bilodara village near Nadiad.
According to officials, such medicinal syrups are sometimes misused by alcohol addicts in the ‘dry’ state of Gujarat.
”While five persons died after consuming the syrup, two others are undergoing treatment at the civil hospital in Ahmedabad. Another person who was treated at a private hospital for two days was shifted to Nadiad Civil Hospital on Friday evening,” Gadhiya said.
The police officer appealed to all the private hospitals to report any such suspected cases that have approached them for treatment. ”Shop owner Kishan Sodha allegedly admitted that he had sold syrup bottles to nearly 50 persons last week. He bought them for Rs 100 a piece and sold them for Rs 130,” Gadhiya said. The Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) has said ‘Asavas’ and ‘Arishtams’ are fermented Ayurvedic mixtures which contain less than 12 per cent self-generated alcohol.