Police suspect alcohol withdrawal as a reason since state-run alcohol outlet TASMAC is shut due to the lockdown.
In a suspected case of alcohol withdrawal, two fishermen in Pudukottai district in Tamil Nadu lost their lives after they consumed aftershave lotion mixed with cool drinks.
According to the police, Anwar Raja (33), Arun Kantian (29) and Hasan Mydeen (35) lived in a fishermen colony in Kottaipattinam, around 70 kilometres from Pudukottai. The three men were friends and habitually consumed of alcohol when they met near a dargah in their locality.
On Friday night, the three men met in their usual spot and allegedly mixed after-shave lotion with cool drinks since they could not procure alcohol due to the lockdown. After having the drinks, Anwar Raja left for his house. The two others stayed back at the same spot. However, within minutes, both men started vomiting and crying out due to pain.
“Some people who lived nearby heard their cries and rushed them to a government hospital in Manamelkudi, around 10 kilometres from Kottaipattinam. Anwar Raja was also rushed to a hospital by his family. Arun and Hasan succumbed to their internal injuries soon in the hospital, while Anwar Raja’s condition remains critical as of Saturday afternoon,” a police officer at Kottaipattinam told TNM.
The police have registered a case under section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code and are investigating the case.
Alcohol shops across Tamil Nadu have been shut since March 25 due to a statewide and national lockdown to control and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to address the withdrawal symptoms that people who are addicted to alcohol may experience due to its non-availability, the District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) had issued a set of guidelines to the medical officers in the state. These guidelines specified the rules and protocol by which the medical officers will have to assess and provide treatment to those who are experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
The officers have also been provided with the scale designed by Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol, which helps them measure the withdrawal symptoms and prescribe medicines according to the severity of the issue.