The South Asia Channel
Alcohol Poisoning in Mumbai Kills 35; World Bank, Pakistan Sign $500m Credit; SIGAR: Afghan Education Officials Embezzled US Aid Money
India Bonus read: “Do or die: Shiv Sena at crossroads on 50th anniversary,” by Sujata Anandan (Hindustan Times) 35 die due to alcohol poisoning in Mumbai Police in the western city of Mumbai said that at least 35 people have been killed after consuming toxic alcohol (BBC, Guardian, HT). Officials say residents of a slum ...
Bonus read: “Do or die: Shiv Sena at crossroads on 50th anniversary,” by Sujata Anandan (Hindustan Times)
35 die due to alcohol poisoning in Mumbai
Police in the western city of Mumbai said that at least 35 people have been killed after consuming toxic alcohol (BBC, Guardian, HT). Officials say residents of a slum in the Malad area fell ill after drinking the alcohol on Wednesday morning. More than 20 people are being treated in hospitals, amid fears that the death toll could rise. Toxic alcohol deaths are a regular occurrence in India, where people often drink cheap local liquor. One suspect has been detained in the latest case. At least 29 people were killed after consuming toxic alcohol in Uttar Pradesh state in January this year whereas nearly 170 people died in 2011 in the eastern state of West Bengal due to similar causes.
Heavy rains bring Mumbai to a halt
Heavy rainfall in Mumbai has flooded large parts of the city on Friday morning affecting flights, trains, and bus services (HT, NDTV, TOI). Thousands of people are caught in traffic jams and a high tide warning has been issued. Times of India reports that four more power substations have been shut down as a precautionary measure. A ministry of defense spokesperson this morning issued a statement indicating that the Indian Navy may be called in to assist in rescue operations in the city. Mumbai is considered to be India’s financial capital. India Meteorological Department officials say the current rainfall pattern falls under the “extreme” category for the city of Mumbai, Konkan areas, and Goa. The officials added that the current weather pattern would continue for the next two days with isolated spells of very heavy rain across the city.
Supreme Court sets new conditions for Sahara chief’s release
Indian Supreme Court on Friday set fresh terms for releasing troubled conglomerate Sahara’s founder Subrata Roy, jailed for more than a year in a long-running dispute over issuance of illegal bonds (Reuters, Hindu, ET). The court said Sahara, which has assets ranging from a Formula One team to TV channels, will have to pay INR 360 billion ($5.65 billion USD) in nine installments after Roy’s release from jail. Roy will also have to submit his passport to the court after his release on bail, the court said. Roy was arrested in March last year after the company failed to comply with a court order to refund money it had raised from millions of small investors by selling them bonds later ruled to be illegal.
World Bank, Pakistan sign $500m credit
The World Bank and Pakistan signed the Second Fiscally Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Development Policy Credit on Thursday, worth $500 million (ET). The credit is to support Pakistan’s efforts to reinvigorate growth and stabilize the economy. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Abbas Jilani said that another credit agreement for $500 million will be signed in September of this year for energy sector reforms.
Pakistan suspends death penalty for Ramadan
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif halted executions for the duration of Ramadan, a holy month in Islam that began on Friday (BBC). In anticipation of the temporary suspension, at least 15 people were hanged earlier this week. More than 170 people have been hanged since December 2014 when a seven-year moratorium was lifted following the Peshawar school attack. Pakistan is believed to have the largest number of death row inmates in the world.
Arrest warrant issued for Musharraf
On Friday, a non-bailable arrest warrant was issued for former President Pervez Musharraf in connection to the murder of former Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) cleric Ghazi Abdul Rasheed during the 2007 Red Mosque military operation (Dawn). Islamabad Additional Sessions judge, Kamran Basharat Mufti, ordered police to arrest Musharraf and present him in court for the next hearing of the case on July 24.
SIGAR: Afghan education officials embezzled US aid money
On Thursday, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released a letter inquiring into USAID’s support for the Afghan education system (SIGAR, TOLO News). According to the letter, former Ministry of Education officials provided false data on the number of schools in Afghanistan, doctored statistics, interfered with university entrance exams, and embezzled donor money. Current Minister of Education Asadullah Haneef Bakhi told TOLO News: “In some of the insecure areas, there are no schools, but the benefits, opportunities, money for infrastructure, money for teachers and so on have been taken,” by ministry officials under former President Hamid Karzai. USAID has spent $769 million to support Afghanistan’s education sector.
Children fighting the Taliban
Children in the southern provinces of Afghanistan have picked up arms against the Taliban (TOLO News). Most of the children participating are under the age of 15 — the age that international accords signed by Afghanistan deem to be the age of consent for participating in conflict. Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission spokesman Rafi Bedar said: “Young children are still recruited among local police forces,” suggesting that there may be some institutional backing for the child fighters. The Ministry of Interior has said that arming children is not necessary, however, according to TOLO News, it has not denied involvement in the youth militias outright.
India investing in Afghan water supply
On Friday, the director of technical services announced that India will invest $9 million to build a water supply service in Charikar, the capital of northern Parwan province (Pajhwok). The project, which is expected to be completed within a year, will build two water reservoirs capable of storing 6,000 gallons of water so that residents will have 24-hour access to clean drinking water.
–Courtney Schuster and Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen
INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images