Saharanpur: Enraged over the mindless deaths caused by spurious liquor in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, locals here sat on a protest and blocked the road on Sunday.

They said, “Our children should get free of cost education. Women who lost their husbands should be given jobs. Culprits should be given strict punishment.”

At least 26 people have died in the state. While 18 lost their lives in Saharanpur, the death toll in Kushinagar rose to ten. Casualties were also reported from Haridwar and Roorkee in Uttarakhand. Nearly 42 people were being treated at a local hospital. An investigation is currently underway.

Most of the victims had consumed the liquor on Thursday evening after the 13th-day mourning ritual, following a relative’s death in Balupur, officials said. This may have led to more casualties, the official said, and a probe was underway.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. He has also announced Rs 2 lakh compensation to the kin of deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the victims undergoing treatment in the hospital.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has expressed hope that the state government will take action against the culprits. “I hope that the state government takes strict action against culprits and provide compensation & govt jobs for the families of the deceased. I express my condolences to bereaved families,” she said.

“Sad and stunned by the death of more than 100 people in Uttarakhand and UP due to illicit liquor. This is condemnable. It couldn’t have been imagined that the trade of illicit liquor flourished at such a large scale in the two states,” Priyanka said.

Former chief minister and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also took the state government to task over the deaths.

“The Opposition has been notifying the government about such activities, but they didn’t wake up as govt is also involved in it. Truth is that without government, such businesses can’t be carried out. The government should accept that they can’t run the state,” he said.