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Citizens Attack Officials in China and India Over Police Brutality and Poisoned Food

July 22, 2013
Plain English Version

Citizens in both countries are growing more impatient with the misuse of power.

Brutal Death in China

In China, observers say a watermelon seller was beaten to death for not having a license. Municipal workers, known as chengguan, are low-level enforcers of the law. Their reputation is for brutality and poor training. When authorities arrived, bystanders would not allow them to take the body for fear they would  tamper with it as evidence. Later, police came and there was a bloody brawl.

China’s online community is talking about the watermelon seller. Many blame the system, far beyond the chengguan system, for his death. They object to how the local government handled the situation and the protesters.

Authorities are denying that he was beaten to death. They say he had “suddenly fallen to the ground and died not because of chengguan actions.” The police will investigate.

The incident took place in Linwu County in south central Hunan province. Some observers say the event could spark demonstrations elsewhere.

The police just arrested 6 members of the chengguan. They are trying to contain the situation.

Indians Protest Food Poisoning

At least 23 Indian school children died and many, many more were sickened after eating a government provided lunch. The elementary school is in Gandaman, a village in the poor state of Bihar.

Experts say a common pesticide may be to blame. The school cook noticed a funny color and smell from the cooking oil when she made lunch. Authorities are looking for the headmistress of the school. They say she would sometimes shop for the food at a store owned by her husband. She is missing.

Enraged by the poisoning, hundreds of local residents took to the streets, setting fire to four police vans. Television footage showed police armed with sticks, or lathis, beating a man in the street.

The Indian food program is meant to benefit all the people in the country. It passes out cheap grain to around 70 percent of the county’s 1.4 billion people. The lunch programs give out food to about 600,000 schools. It is meant to ensure that children get at least one hot meal a day.

The Indian government purchases wheat and rice from farmers. Warehouses are overflowing with far more grain than is needed. Grain sometimes ends up being stored in poor conditions for long periods of time, where it can spoil.

An administrator said, “I am not saying the quality is very good. That is a concern, but when we cook the food, most bacteria and germs die.”

Sources: The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal

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