The South Asia Channel
India Freezes Ford Foundation Funding; Bomb Blast in Mosque Kills 29 Afghans; FIRs lodged against MQM leader in Sindh
India Ford Foundation India funding frozen by government Ford Foundation, a leading global charity has had $4 million of its funding to India frozen, after a clampdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on donors perceived to be interfering in domestic politics (Reuters). The government restrictions on the U.S.-based Ford Foundation relate to a $250,000 ...
Ford Foundation India funding frozen by government
Ford Foundation, a leading global charity has had $4 million of its funding to India frozen, after a clampdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on donors perceived to be interfering in domestic politics (Reuters). The government restrictions on the U.S.-based Ford Foundation relate to a $250,000 grant given to a vocal Modi critic, but a top official at the charity told Reuters that the fallout has hit projects that fight child marriage, provide clean water in slums, and feed pregnant women. The Ford Foundation has donated more than $500 million to India since opening its first overseas office in Delhi in 1952. India has toughened rules governing charities, and this year the government cancelled the registration of nearly 9,000 groups for failing to declare details of overseas donations. Modi’s government has accused foreign charities of trying to hamper industrial projects on social and environmental grounds, and he has criticized what he called “five-star activists.”
27 worshipers killed in a stampede in Andhra Pradesh
Local officials confirmed that at least 27 pilgrims have died in a stampede on the banks of a holy river in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh (BBC, PTI, Reuters). The Hindu pilgrims had gathered to take a dip in the Godavari river at the start of the Maha Pushkaralu, a Hindu festival held at the banks of the holy river. Nearly 24 million pilgrims are expected to take part in the 12-day festival. Pilgrims believe that taking a bath in the waters will rid them of their sins. Police estimated the crowd swelled to more than one million on Tuesday. The government of the southern state expects approximately 40 million pilgrims to attend the Godavari Maha Pushkaraluover over the next 12 days. Stampedes are not uncommon at India’s large religious festivals, where crowds routinely number in the tens of millions. In 2013, 36 pilgrims were killed during a stampede in a train station during a festival in northern India.
Two top IPL teams suspended for 2 years
A panel appointed by India’s Supreme Court has suspended two top Indian Premier League teams for two years over a corruption scandal (BBC, Guardian, PTI). Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals have been found guilty in an illegal betting and match-fixing probe. The panel also suspended Royals co-owner Raj Kundra and Gurunath Meiyappan of Super Kings from all cricket-related activities for life. The IPL is the richest of the world’s Twenty20 cricket leagues. Top Indian and international players take part each spring. Chennai Super Kings are led by Indian captain skipper MS Dhoni, while the Royals are led by the Australian batsman Steve Smith. Chennai have reached four finals, winning in 2010 and 2011. The Royals won the inaugural tournament in 2008.
Bomb blast in mosque wounds 29
A bomb blast inside a mosque in Baghlan province north of Kabul wounded 29 people on Monday night, an Afghan official said (AP, TOLO). Jawed Basharat, spokesperson for the provincial police, said worshippers had finished their evening prayers at a mosque in Puli Khumri and were waiting for food deliveries when a bomb exploded. Food had been donated by acting provincial governor Sultan Mohammad Ebadi, who was also in attendance. Food donations and evening iftar meals provided for the poor are typical during Ramadan. No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion.
Afghan militant faction denies joining ISIS
An influential Afghan militant faction, Hizb-i-Islami, denied reports that it had shifted loyalty to ISIS on Monday (Reuters). A spokesperson for the group, which is led by Afghan commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, said that a statement had circulated in the Afghan media last week alleging that Hekmatyar had aligned himself with ISIS but that was incorrect. “It was not true. None of us had issued any such statement in support of ISIS in Afghanistan against the Afghan Taliban,” spokesman Haroon Zarghoon said. A shift by Hekmatyar, who is believed to command fighters in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces, would boost the presence of ISIS in Afghanistan.
FIRs lodged against MQM leader
First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain at police stations across Sindh late Monday and early Tuesday for what the government has regarded as “inflammatory remarks” against the Pakistani military (Dawn, ET). Hussain called on the army chief to take notice of the alleged violations of the army’s code of conduct and accused Sindh Rangers of torturing and murdering MQM party workers. “Are Rangers a security force or a political party? Does the code of conduct of the armed forces allow the army, its paramilitary forces like Rangers, etc, to issue a charge-sheet against a political party,” Hussain had asked while speaking from London a convention of party workers on Sunday. The FIRs stated that Hussain’s speeches from London were spreading hatred against the military and were destabilizing the country. Hussain called the FIRs “false and baseless allegations.”
Top model granted bail
A Pakistan court granted bail on Tuesday to a top model, Ayaan Ali, who has been held since March after being caught trying to fly to Dubai with half a million dollars in cash in her luggage (AP, Dawn). In a televised comment, her defense lawyer, Latif Khosa, said the Lahore High Court granted bail to Ali after hearing arguments from both sides. He said they started paperwork for her release from the prison in Rawalpindi, where she is being held. Ali has been the focus of Pakistani media attention since authorities arrested her at the VIP lounge of Islamabad’s airport with around $506,800 in her luggage. Under Pakistani laws, no one can carry over $10,000 on a flight.
— Emily Schneider and Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen