Colombo: Sri Lanka’s president reimposed a four-decade-long ban on women buying liquor, just days after his finance minister had lifted the restriction.
Maithripala Sirisena said he had ordered Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera to revoke his decision last week to overturn the 1979 law prohibiting the sale of any type of alcohol to women.
“From tomorrow (Monday), the minister’s order will be rescinded,” Sirisena’s office said in a statement, which added that the status quo will be restored but offered no explanation.
The reversal comes after a finance ministry official told AFP Samaraweera had revoked the 39-year-old law in an effort to strike sexist bills from the statute books.
“The idea was to restore gender neutrality,” ministry spokesman Ali Hassen said of the decision Wednesday to roll back the ban.
But last week’s decision to relax laws on alcohol provoked a backlash in some quarters of the majority-Buddhist nation of 21 million people.
The National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection had accused the finance minister of encouraging drinking, and had urged Sirisena to intervene and restore the restrictions.
Under further new measures passed by Samaraweera, bars and pubs can remain open longer, and a ban on women working in bars, distilleries and breweries was lifted.
But Sirisena’s office said he was reducing the time period that bars could be open. It was not clear from Sirisena’s statement on Sunday if the decision to allow women to work in the alcohol industry had also been reversed.
The ban on women buying liquor was likely originally imposed in 1979 to appease the conservative Buddhist hierarchy at the time, a finance ministry official told.
Liquor vendors in Sri Lanka are also forbidden to sell spirits to police or members of the armed forces in uniform.
Samaraweera has said that strict curbs on Sri Lanka’s licensed liquor manufacturers only encourage a black market for spirits, and deprive the state of much-needed revenue.
Sri Lanka in its November budget unveiled steep tax rises on hard liquor, but greatly reduced tariffs on wine and beer.
In biggest drug haul, 150-kg heroin seized in Delhi
NEW DELHI: In the biggest ever narcotics haul in the national capital to date, Delhi Police Special Cell seized about 150 kilograms of Afghan-origin heroin, exposing an Afghan-Pakistan narcotics cartel in the process. Five persons, including two Afghanistan nationals, were arrested.
The international market value of the seized heroin is over Rs 600 crores, police told.
The police busted the heroin reconstitution and processing unit which was functional at the time of the arrests. Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, Corolla Altis and other luxury vehicles, used to transport the Afghan heroin in Delhi, have also been seized.
The two Afghan nationals – Shinwari Rehmat (30) and Akhtar Mohammad Shinwari (31) – are chemical expert who were handling the production. The other accomplices have been identified as Vakeel Ahmed (36), Raees Khan (43), and Dheeraj (21), who worked for the Afghans in Delhi, reported IANS news agency.
With this major drug haul, the Modus Operandi (MO) of another trans-national narcotic cartel has been exposed.
“A team of Special Cell during separate raids on Wednesday and Thursday initially arrested Dheeraj, a native of Haryana and Raees Khan, a resident of Maharani Bagh when they assembled at Ashram flyover with 60 kgs of heroin,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Manishi Chandra told IANS.
The accused disclosed the names of two Afghan nationals who were then arrested from their hideout in Zakir Nagar with another 60 kgs heroin and another accused Vakeel Ahmed with 30 kgs of heroin.
“At a site in Zakir Nagar, a huge amount of preparatory and precursor chemical agents, solutions and implements etc were also found. Also, a semi-industrial set up of relatively sophisticated design was found almost operational. The entire premises were sealed,” he added.
During interrogation, police stumbled upon a intricate method that uses jute bags to transport the drug. The crude heroin is first dissolved in a preservative solution. Jute gunny bags, meant to transport spices and condiments, are then soaked and dried in this heroin solution. After emptying the contents, the jute sack is again dipped in another chemical that helps creates the heroin residue.
“Vakeel Ahmed disclosed that with the expertise gained by years of clandestine operations, the Af-Pak drug cartels have recently adopted this novel modus operandi whereby crude heroin is dissolved in a preservative solution and ordinary jute bags, meant for carrying various kinds of spices and condiments, are soaked and dried in this heroin solution,” said Chandra.
Indian masterminds of the syndicate have been identified and efforts are on to nab them, Chandra said.
Nehru, Sardar Patel, Bapu appealed Muslims to not migrate to Pak: Azam Khan
New Delhi: In another controversial statement, Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan said on Saturday that Muslims in the country are being punished for their decision to not go migrate to Pakistan after the partition in 1947.
“Why our ancestors did not go to Pakistan? Well, they considered India as their nation. This is our fault. Maulana Azad, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and even Bapu had appealed Muslims to not migrate to Pakistan,” he said when asked about his views on growing incidents of mob lynching.
Khan, an MP from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, claimed that Muslims have not been able to live a dignified life in the country. “We have been living a very disgusting life since 1947, and we are very ashamed of it,” he said.
He also alleged that the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh is fabricating land dispute cases against him because he managed to defeat BJP candidate Jaya Prada in the Lok Sabha elections.
The state government recently put Khan’s name on anti-land mafia portal after several complaints were registered against him for allegedly grabbing lands in Rampur, his home district.
Khan, a former state Cabinet minister, is known for his controversial remarks. During the Lok Sabha elections, he said Jaya Prada wears khaki underwear, a reference to her alleged affiliation with the RSS.
“I won the election against powerful people despite their several tactics. I am being punished for that mistake. The Rampur district magistrate went to counting stations wearing a saffron shirt and harassed voters. Still, I emerged victorious,” he said.
Centre, Assam move SC seeking extension of deadline for final NRC
New Delhi: The Centre and the Assam government on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking extension of the July 31 deadline for finalisation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The Centre told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that India could not be the refugee capital of the world.
The Union and state governments also sought sample verification of the citizens included in the NRC, saying lakhs of people had been wrongly included in areas bordering Bangladesh due to involvement of local officers.
The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published on the intervening night of December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018 in accordance with the top court’s direction. Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated then.
Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.