Indian police crackdown on illegal liquor suppliers after 86 die

Punjab Police (DIG) Hardial Singh Mann (L) along with Police officers speaks to media persons at Tarn Taran, some 25 km from Amritsar on August 1, 2020. At least 40 people have died in three Punjab's districts including Amritsar, Batala and Tarn Taran, after reportedly drinking spurious liquor over two days, local media reported on July 31. (AFP)
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Updated 02 August 2020

Indian police crackdown on illegal liquor suppliers after 86 die

  • Punjab police have so far arrested at least 25 people
  • Deaths from illegally-produced alcohol, known locally as “hooch” or “country liquor,” are a regular occurrence in India

NEW DELHI: Indian police raided rural hamlets and made arrests to break up a bootlegging cartel on Sunday, after 86 people died from consuming illegally-produced alcohol this week in the northwestern state of Punjab, officials said.
“We have conducted raids at more than 30 places today and we have detained six more persons,” Dhruman H. Nimbale, a senior police officer in Punjab’s Tarn Taran district, told Reuters.
Nimbale said the first death occurred on Wednesday but police were only alerted on Friday, and then launched an investigation to determine whether the fatalities were linked.
Punjab police have so far arrested at least 25 people and conducted more than 100 raids across three districts, seizing hundreds of liters of liquor from villages and road-side eateries, the state’s police chief Dinkar Gupta said on Saturday.
A government official said some of the seized liquid was denatured spirit, which is typically used in the paint and hardware industry.
Deaths from illegally-produced alcohol, known locally as “hooch” or “country liquor,” are a regular occurrence in India, where many cannot afford branded spirits.
Recent coronavirus-related lockdowns have also made it difficult for consumers to enjoy a regular tipple. On Friday, 10 men died in a southern Indian states after consuming sanitizer derived from alcohol, as local liquor shops were closed, police said.


Back to work: Jakarta lifts ban on sending workers to MENA

This picture taken on October 13, 2019 shows Indonesian migrant workers gathering near Victoria Park in Hong Kong. (AFP)
Updated 44 min 29 sec ago

Back to work: Jakarta lifts ban on sending workers to MENA

  • $260m revenue boost to accelerate Indonesia’s economic recovery amid pandemic

AKARTA: After a four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Indonesia is set to send almost 90,000 migrant workers to overseas countries, including those in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region.

The move will deliver almost 3.8 trillion rupiahs ($260.8 million) in foreign remittances, officials said.

Migrant workers could begin leaving within weeks after the Manpower Ministry issued guidelines to conform with the country’s pandemic protocols.

“In order to boost the national economic recovery and considering that several countries have reopened to foreign workers, we think it is necessary to allow Indonesian migrant workers to work in destination countries, while complying with health protocols,” Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah told a press conference.

She said migrant workers whose employment had been suspended in recent months could generate about 3.8 trillion rupiahs in revenue and their remittances could accelerate Indonesia’s economic recovery, especially in their hometowns and villages.

Fauziyah said the decision was made after consultation with domestic stakeholders and was based on updates from Indonesian embassies and trade missions abroad.

The government focused on 14 countries — Algeria, Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Kuwait, Maldives, Nigeria, the UAE, Poland, Qatar, Taiwan, Turkey, Zambia and Zimbabwe — that wanted to welcome foreign workers back, despite the pandemic.

“We appreciate the ministry’s decision to lift the suspension, even though the reopening is still only to several countries,” Kausar Tanjung, secretary-general of Indonesian Labor Exporters Association (APJATI), told Arab News.

Most APJATI members are exporters of domestic and informal workers, who make up more than half of the 88,973 migrant workers whose departures to 22 countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, had been put on hold since March.

Ayub Basalamah, chairman of APJATI, said that it was time the March ministerial decree was revoked, adding that the association was “ready to comply with the health protocols in place” as part of the new rule.

The ministry said that Kuwait is willing to welcome workers from Indonesia in all formal sectors except health, while Algeria is opening its construction sector and Qatar its oil and gas sector. Indonesian workers in Turkey and the UAE will be allowed to work in the hospitality sector.

Placement of Indonesia’s migrant workers in the UAE is in line with a temporary travel corridor agreed between the two countries.

The agreement was announced last week to help business people, government officials and diplomats, and is based on a $22.9 billion investment deal signed during President Joko Widodo’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January this year.

The APJATI said it will send domestic workers with secure employment to Hong Kong and Taiwan soon, while neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam remain closed to foreign workers in the informal sector.