Over 60 killed by bootleg alcohol in India’s Punjab

Punjab Police (DIG) Hardial Singh Mann (L) and other police officers speak to the media at Tarn Taran, some 25 km from Amritsar on August 1, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 01 August 2020

Over 60 killed by bootleg alcohol in India’s Punjab

  • The case came after authorities in Andhra Pradesh said that nine people had died after drinking sanitiser
  • The victims drank the sanitiser as a substitute for alcohol

NEW DELHI: More than 60 people have died after drinking toxic bootleg alcohol in the Indian state of Punjab, officials and reports said.
The victims died in three districts of the northern state and police have arrested 10 people, the officials said.
Hundreds of people die every year in India from poisoned alcohol made in backstreet distilleries which sells for as little as 10 rupees (13 US cents) a liter.
An official told AFP that 11 people had died in Gurdaspur district. Press Trust of India news agency and other media said Saturday the illicit booze had claimed 53 lives in neighboring Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts.
Other deaths were suspected in recent days but could not be proved as the bodies had been cremated without a post-mortem examination.
Punjab state chief minister Amarinder Singh said Friday he had ordered a special inquiry into the deaths and “anyone found guilty will not be spared.”
The Indian Express newspaper said one of the suspects had died in Amritsar district after consuming the illegal liquor and that his wife had been arrested for selling the alcohol.
The case came after authorities in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh said on Friday that nine people had died after drinking alcohol-based sanitiser.
The victims drank the sanitiser as a substitute for alcohol which has been restricted during a coronavirus lockdown in India.


Tens of thousands in fresh anti-Kremlin rally

Updated 5 min 27 sec ago

Tens of thousands in fresh anti-Kremlin rally

  • The rallies in the city of some 600,000 people on the border with China is a major show of defiance against Moscow’s policies
  • The demonstrations were sparked by the sudden arrest of Khabarovsk’s popular governor in a murder probe
KHABAROVSK, Russia: Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Russia’s Far East for a fifth consecutive weekend as anti-Kremlin rallies showed little sign of dying down on Saturday.
The rallies in the city of some 600,000 people on the border with China is a major show of defiance against Moscow’s policies and present a headache for President Vladimir Putin, observers say.
The demonstrations were sparked by the sudden arrest of Khabarovsk’s popular governor in a murder probe but has since acquired a wider, distinctly anti-Kremlin agenda.
Protesters demand that regional governor Sergei Furgal be either released or tried in Khabarovsk.
Putin last month dismissed Furgal over a “loss of confidence” in his ability to govern and appointed a controversial new official in his place.
Protesters said they were incensed by what they call a blatant disregard for their feelings and opinions.
Elena Ogly, 38, said that the Kremlin should either fulfil protesters’ demand or face a long-term opposition movement.
“We elected him honestly. We love him,” said Ogly, referring to Furgal.
“I think that this will either grind to a halt when the president gives us his answer or will not stop at all,” she told AFP.
Furgal’s supporters say the charges against him are political and payback for his popularity.
In 2018, he won the governor’s seat from a representative of the ruling United Russia party who was backed by Putin.
Entrepreneur Yevgeny Savinov suggested that protests could spread across the country because Russians are “fed up” with “corruption, lies, and propaganda.”
“This will only grow and spread across Russia,” the 37-year-old said.
“Authorities have been playing a dangerous game.”
In recent weeks people in a number of Russian cities and towns took to the streets in support of Khabarovsk protesters but those rallies were not massive.
Several Moscow-based activists have called on Russians to take to the streets across the country on August 15.
Observers say that anger at the Kremlin is building over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and falling incomes but it remains unclear if Russians across the country are ready to take to the streets en masse.
In a statement, regional authorities claimed turnout at Khabarovsk rallies has been going down and said that just 2,800 people turned up in the city’s central square on Saturday.
But witnesses and participants said that tens of thousands took part in a march across the city.
High-profile local activist Alexei Vorsin suggested that at least 50,000 people were present.