Five persons died and almost a dozen others were hospitalized after allegedly consuming spurious liquor in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district on Saturday, provoking Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to suspend five officials and police officers. While four other victims are undergoing treatment in a hospital, some have also lost their eyesight, police said.

The incident took place on Friday night after people consumed liquor at a gathering in Aliganj Kasba of Etah.

The five deceased have been identified as Ram Avtar (58), Ateeq (35), Rakesh (38), Netrpal (35), and Sarvesh (25).

District Magistrate Ajay Yadav announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh each to the families of the deceased. A case was registered under Section 60 of the Excise Act and 304 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with culpable homicide. Search operation is on against the accused, identified as Shripal, police said.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was apprised of the incident and he suspended several government officials and police officers for dereliction of duty, including SDM Etah Sanjeev Kumar, station officer Aliganj Mukesh Kumar, area-in-charge Yogendra Kumar, Circle Officer Aliganj Asharam Ahirwar and the District Excise officer V.K.Sharma.

State DGP Javeed Ahmed warned officials to ensure that such incidents are not repeated. “While sale of spurious liquor causes revenue loss to the State, it also leads to precious loss of life. With this in mind, if there is sale of illegal liquor, strict action will be taken against the concerned station officer and gazetted officer,” Mr. Ahmed said. He advised officials to tour their areas and ensure there was no sale of illegal liquor.

The BJP blamed the SP government for the incident. “CM Akhilesh Yadav is personally responsible for the lapse of the Excise department. The department comes directly under him,” BJP spokesperson Manoj Mishra said,