At least 42 people have died in hospitals after drinking toxic bootleg liquor in northern India, police said Sunday..

Another 40 people are being treated in hospitals in Uttar Pradesh state, said District Magistrate Neena Sharma.

Police arrested 32 people for illegally brewing and selling the toxic drink to the villagers, who were celebrating the Hindu "Dussehra" festival in Azamgarh district last week, Sharma said. The region is 300 kilometres southeast of Lucknow, the state capital.

Police officer Arvibnd Sen said the victims bought pouches of tainted liquor Thursday from a shop in Adampur village. Police arrested the shopkeeper, whose son also died after drinking the tainted liquor, Sen said.

He said eight state government officials and four police officers have been suspended as authorities investigate the deaths and possible negligence of duty by the officials in allowing the liquor to be sold.

Deaths from drinking illegally brewed alcohol are common in India because the poor cannot afford licensed liquor. Illicit liquor is often spiked with chemicals such as pesticides to increase potency.