Police say at least 19 people have died after drinking toxic bootleg liquor in northern India over the weekend.

Senior police officer Ajay Shankar Rai says another 50 people have fallen ill after consuming the home-brewed liquor on Friday and were being treated in hospitals in Etah district in Uttar Pradesh state. Six people have been blinded by the drink.

Rai says the victims bought the liquor from a village shop and started falling ill. He says the shop owner has been arrested.

Most of the victims were poor farmers and laborers, looking for a cheap means of intoxication. India's poor often buy cheap bootleg liquor made of syrups and medicines that are spiked with methyl alcohol and other industrial spirits to give it a kick.