Indian police arrest bootlegger acussed of supplying toxic liquor that killed 100

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Indian police have arrested a bootlegger accused of supplying the toxic liquor that killed 100 people from a slum in the financial capital Mumbai, a senior officer has said.

Mansur Latif Shaikh, 26, was picked up during a raid on his hideout in northwestern New Delhi on Tuesday following a tip off, days after Mumbai police pledged to crack down on the popular illicit trade.

Delhi deputy police commissioner Veenu Bansal said in a statement Shaikh had confessed during questioning to diluting three drums of "spurious liquor" that were packed into pouches and sent to the western city.

"Since the last three years he has been involved in the sale and supply of spurious liquor," Mr Bansal said in the statement late Tuesday, describing Shaikh as the main suspect in the case.

Victims first started falling ill, some vomiting blood and suffering breathing problems, in the middle of last week after drinking the moonshine in the Mumbai suburb of Malad West.

Seven other people have already been arrested over the tragedy that has killed 100 and left scores sick in hospital.

Police are still waiting for the results of an investigation to determine whether high levels of methanol were present in the so-called country liquor.

Methanol, a highly toxic form of alcohol used as anti-freeze or fuel, is often added to illicit booze in India as a cheap and quick method of raising the alcohol content.

Unlicensed liquor is widely consumed across the country where it is sometimes sold for less than a dollar for a 25-centilitre bottle, with deaths frequently reported.

It is rare however for such incidents to occur in a major city like Mumbai, with most cases taking place in poor rural villages.

The latest incident is the worst case of its kind to be recorded in Mumbai since 2004 when around 100 people died.