Andhra Pradesh: 16 dead after consuming spurious sanitizer in Kurichedu, main accused nabbed
The probe into the demise of ten people because of consuming hand sanitiser guided the police to a school drop-out who began producing hand sanitiser by watching YouTube videos.
The main accused in the case, Sale Srinivas, worked in a petrol pump for a while before getting into manufacturing of sanitiser. So far, ten people have been taken into custody in the case, Prakasam district police chief Siddharth Kaushal stated.
Although the police at the early stages had claimed that only ten people had lost their lives after consuming hand sanitiser, the Superintendent of Police later stated that their were 16 people who had died in a span of three days between 29th July and 31.
“Most of them were beggars, hamalis and rickshaw pullers who got addicted to liquor. They had consumed hand sanitiser due to non-availability of alcohol,” SP said.
The Special Investigating Team of the district police, with the help of special enforcement bureau and drug inspector, was given responsibility to probe into supply of sanitiser to the sellers in Kurichedu.
“The SIT collected 69 bottles from the different scenes of crime and identified that the deceased consumed eight brands of sanitisers. The team started locating their addresses and manufacturing units. One of these brands - Perfect Gold - had no batch number and was found to have been supplied by Vandana Pharma from Bengaluru. But during investigation, the SIT found that there was no such company,” the SP said.
Following an extensive search, the SIT unearthed the dealer of sanitiser at Hyderabad’s Prashasan Nagar and confiscated heavy stocks of sanitiser boxes in the premises of distributor.
On probing the case, the dealer owned up that Sale Srinivas from Subhashnagar, Jedimetla was supplying this sanitiser to him on cheapest rates.
The SIT arrested Srinivas. During interrogation, it was revealed that Srinivas, a school drop-out from Siddapuram, had earlier worked in a petrol pump and as solid paint remover for some time and had very little knowledge about chemicals.
After taking notice of increasing demand for sanitiser in the time of pandemic, Srinivas got into sanitiser business with the help of his brother and few others. They advised him to use methanol which is a cheaper alternative of ethanol in order to gain bigger profits.
“So, he started making sanitiser using methanol by watching the process in YouTube videos under the brand name of Perfect Gold. He did not get any license from drug administration authority or did not get any permission from the government to install the manufacturing unit,” the SP said.
At the start, Srinivas used to distribute sanitiser bottles in an auto and later, he got in touch with another distributor Kesav Agaraval who agreed to distribution of large quantities of sanitiser. Thus, he had supplied the sanitiser to many shops.
The SIT found the supply chain and distribution track of Perfect Gold hand sanitiser from Hyderabad to Kurichedu and busted the whole racket. “We have arrested Srinivas and four others who were involved in the manufacture and distribution of methanol-based hand sanitiser and five medical shop owners in Darsi and Kurichedu who sold this brand of sanitiser to the victims,” Kaushal said.
Every single one of the 10 accused were produced before a local court in Darsi, which remanded them to two-week judicial custody.