Blast in convoy of 'mourners' kills 7 in Kabul

Afghan security personnel inspect a site following a suicide attack in Kabul on September 9, 2018. A suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up near a convoy of gunmen commemorating the death anniversary of a famed resistance leader in Kabul on September 9, killing at least seven people, officials said. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2018

Blast in convoy of 'mourners' kills 7 in Kabul

  • Kabul police spokesman said seven people were killed and 20 wounded in the blast
  • Many people in Kabul chided the chaos and the government for failing to block it

KABUL: An explosion in Kabul on Sunday killed seven people in a convoy of mostly armed men marking the death anniversary of Ahmad Shah Masood, one of Afghanistan’s legendary figures. Meanwhile, scores of security forces lost their lives in a spate of attacks by Taliban combatants elsewhere in the country.

Police said the blast was caused by a suicide bomber who had mingled in one of the long convoys of vehicles and motorbikes in which the armed men drove for hours in Kabul’s streets. He opened fire into the air in a sustained manner and created panic among tens of thousands of people in the city.
The incident caused lawlessness, disorder and disrupted businesses and people’s lives, and the blast led to the drastic reduction of firing and disbursement of the gunmen, residents said.
Before the blast, security forces early in the day said they shot and wounded another suicide bomber who wanted to detonate explosives on his body among another crowd of marchers near the monument of Masood outside the US embassy.
The protracted firing, mostly into the air by the marchers, left behind 13 people wounded, public health ministry spokesman Waheed Majorh told reporters.
The Emergency Hospital said it had received 34 injured patients.
Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai, in a message, said seven people were killed and 20 wounded in the blast.
The chaos lasted for more than eight hours and showed the inability of security forces and government to block it.
“There were lots of young men and kids who drove in vehicles without number plates, wielding knives and guns. We were all shocked,” Said Sameer, a Kabul resident, told Arab News.
Masood was an anti-Taliban top military figure who was killed by two men posing as reporters 17 years ago.
People considering themselves his fans drive in Kabul’s streets and fire into the air as part of mourning of his loss every year.
But this year the number of marchers was far greater than in past years and the firing happened in a protracted manner which forced many people in Kabul to stay indoors because of fear.
Family members of Masood and his former colleagues distanced themselves from today’s chaos.
Speaking in a function, CE Abdullah Abdullah, who served as Masood’s henchman, said the mayhem meant the “re-terrorization” of Masood.
Many people in Kabul chided the chaos and the government for failing to block it.
After the blast, however, which caused casualties and led to the scattering of the marchers, the government said it had arrested scores of them.
No group has asserted responsibility for the reported suicide attack.
While the government was grappling with the embarrassment of its inability to stop the chaos in Kabul, reports emerged about loss of scores of security forces in Taliban attacks in various areas of the country.
The major attack happened in an army base in Baghlan, which the Taliban seized after a protracted siege and clashes, provincial officials said.

New Indian law could force thousands of NGOs to shut down, activists claim

Updated 24 September 2020

New Indian law could force thousands of NGOs to shut down, activists claim

  • Thousands of small NGOs that are dependent on legal funds obtained internationally may be forced to shut down
  • Many small NGOs questioned the timing of the new legislation, as they have been heavily involved in providing relief to millions of people during the COVID-19 pandemic

NEW DELHI: A new law passed by India’s parliament on Wednesday imposes restrictions that will force thousands of NGOs to shut down, dealing a major blow to the country’s civil society, activists say.

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) 2020, which regulates the use of foreign funds by individuals and organizations, is “for national and internal security” and to “ensure that foreign funds do not dominate the political and social discourse in India,” Nityanand Rai, junior home minister, told the upper house as it passed the regulation on Wednesday.

But Indian NGOs fear that the law will mean they are no longer able to operate.

“Thousands of small NGOs, which enable good work and are dependent on legal funds obtained internationally, will shut down — also endangering the livelihoods of those dependent on them for a vocation,” Poonam Muttreja, director of the Delhi-based Population Foundation of India, told Arab News.

As the new law does not allow NGOs to share funds with any partner, individual or organization, small groups — particularly those active at the grassroots level — may end up being unable to receive the donations on which they depend for survival, Muttreja warned.

“Donors can’t give small grants to local NGOs, so they give large grants to an intermediary organization with the desire to work with grassroot-level NGOs, (of which there are many) in India,” Muttrejia said.

On Thursday, Voluntary Action Network India (VANI) — an umbrella organization for Indian NGOs — held a press conference during which members questioned the timing of the new legislation, since many small NGOs have been heavily involved in providing relief to millions of people across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the worst possible time to hamper civil society,” the director of Ashoka University’s Center for Social Impact and Philanthropy, Ingrid Srinath, said during the conference. “Just when this country needs its entire civil society to work together with the private sector and the government to address the multiple problems that confront us — not only the health ones but the larger issues of where the economy is going and the many polarizations taking place on the ground.”

Srinath also pointed out that no wider consultation with NGOs had taken place before the law was passed.

According to Delhi-based civil society activist Richa Singh, the law is an attempt by the government to silence dissent in the country.

“The larger purpose is to further silence those civil societies that are critical of (the government). It is a political message to fall in line,” she told Arab News. “While foreign money in the form of investment is being welcomed and labor laws are weakened for it, aid money is selectively targeted.”

Amitabh Behar, the chief executive of Oxfam India, called it a “devastating blow” and also criticized the government’s double standards over the acceptance of foreign funds.

“Red carpet welcome for foreign investments for businesses but stifling and squeezing the nonprofit sector by creating new hurdles for foreign aid which could help lift people out of poverty, ill health and illiteracy,” he said in a Twitter post on Sunday, when the FCRA bill was introduced to the lower house.