Indian police make arrests after tainted alcohol kills 69

1 / 2
Relatives on an auto-rickshaw hold the dead body of Darshan Singh, who died after allegedly drinking spurious alcohol, at the Civil Hospital in Tarn Taran, some 25 km from Amritsar on August 1, 2020. (AFP / NARINDER NANU)
2 / 2
Relatives and villagers stand near the burning pyre of Kirpal Singh, who died after allegedly drinking spurious alcohol, at Muchhal village, some 30 km from Amritsar on August 1, 2020. (AFP / NARINDER NANU)
Short Url
Updated 02 August 2020

Indian police make arrests after tainted alcohol kills 69

  • Police said 22 people have been linked to the production and distribution of the tainted liquor

NEW DELHI: Indian police said they arrested more than two dozen people on suspicion of selling tainted alcohol that killed at least 69 villagers and others in northern Punjab state.
Six police officers and seven other officials have been suspended for failure to prevent the sale of tainted liquor as a magistrate began an investigation into the deaths in three districts.
Police Officer Roshan Lal said Saturday that 69 people died, though local media reports put the number at 86.
The police chief for Punjab state, Dinkar Gupta, said the first five deaths were reported on Wednesday night in two villages in Amritsar district. Over the past three days another 48 deaths were reported Amritsar and two others districts, Tarn Taran and Batala. Lal told The Associated Press.
Gupta said the 25 suspects supplied the tainted alcohol to roadside eateries from where it was sold to travelers and the villagers.
The government statement said the deaths were due to “spurious” liquor and a crackdown on illegal alcohol manufacturing in the state was ordered.
Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol are common in India, where the poor cannot afford licensed brands from government-run shops. Illicit liquor is cheap and often spiked with methanol to increase potency.
In 2019, at least 133 people died after drinking tainted liquor in two separate incidents in India’s northeast Assam state. The victims were mostly tea plantation workers. That same year, another 80 people died from tainted liquor in northern Uttar Pradesh state.


Muslim woman accuses McDonald's franchisee of discrimination

Updated 14 min 25 sec ago

Muslim woman accuses McDonald's franchisee of discrimination

  • The general manager prohibited Powell from praying in a quiet spot at the airport
  • He told her to to pray in a dirty stock room instead

SILVER SPRING: A Muslim woman who worked for a McDonald’s franchisee in Maryland claims managers and co-workers sexually harassed her and subjected her to religious discrimination after she converted to Islam.
Diamond Powell, 28, of Baltimore, sued her former employer, Susdewitt Management LLC of Lanham, Maryland, on Thursday with the backing of attorneys from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group.
The Morgan State University graduate was Christian in 2016 when she started working for the company, which operated two McDonald’s locations at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Powell converted to Islam in February 2017 and began wearing a hijab, a religious head covering, to work.
A manager told her to “take that hoodie off” her head while another manager told her, “You don’t have to wait for God to wake up for you to pray,” Powell’s federal lawsuit alleges.
Powell has a religious belief that she must pray five times a day at prescribed times. A general manager initially granted Powell’s request to take short prayer breaks during her shifts, according to her lawsuit.
“Her prayer breaks lasted no longer than a typical bathroom break,” the suit says.
But the general manager prohibited Powell from praying in a quiet spot at the airport and instead told her to pray in a dirty stock room, the lawsuit alleges. After Powell continued praying outside the restaurant, the general manager eventually revoked her request to take a prayer break, saying, “God will understand,” according to the lawsuit.
“By doing so, the general manager forced Powell to choose between continuing her employment with McDonald’s or sacrificing her sincerely-held religious beliefs,” the suit says.
Powell resigned from the job in April 2018. Her suit accuses Susdewitt Management of violating the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Susdewitt Management owner Isaac Green disputed the lawsuit’s “characterizations” but said the company is reviewing Powell’s allegations and will “respond accordingly.”
“We pride ourselves on our diverse workforce, and we have policies in place to provide a welcoming workplace and to respect the accommodations employees may need for religious reasons,” Green said in a statement provided by a McDonald’s corporate spokeswoman.
The suit also claims Powell was sexually harassed at work, with several managers and co-workers asking her if she was a virgin and a shift manager making sexually explicit remarks.
“No Muslim woman should ever, ever experience what I went through, and I hope this lawsuit will help other Muslim women,” Powell said Thursday during an online news conference with her attorneys.
Zainab Chaudry, director of CAIR's Maryland office, said the group has seen an uptick in the number of incidents in which Muslims have experienced hostile work environments because of their faith.
“Unfortunately, this disturbing case is a glaring reminder of the challenges that Muslim employees often face within the workplace,” she said.