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Man angry about prices slaps agriculture minister

NEW DELHI | A man slapped India’s agriculture minister in the face Thursday, apparently to draw attention to rising food prices and corruption.

Sharad Pawar was talking to reporters at a political function when the man attacked him. TV news reports said the man was shouting slogans about inflated food prices and graft.

Television footage showed the man brandishing a knife as he was dragged away by security officials and Mr. Pawar’s aides.

“Don’t you know why I hit him? The common man is distressed. Am I wrong?” he shouted as he was being taken away.

CNN-IBN TV reported that the man was detained by police. Mr. Pawar was not seriously hurt.

Such incidents have become increasingly common in India, where ministers and other officials have had shoes thrown at them and their offices ransacked by angry citizens.

The incidents usually have been over political decisions, corruption, or real or perceived injustices.


U.N. rights official urges end to flogging

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA | The U.N. human rights chief urged the Maldives on Thursday to end the “degrading” practice of flogging women found to have had sex outside marriage.

“This practice constitutes one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women, and should have no place in the legal framework of a democratic country,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told Parliament.

“I strongly believe that a public debate is needed in Maldives on this issue of major concern,” she said calling for law reforms against discrimination against women.

She told reporters later that she discussed with Maldives officials how to end the practice.

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