NEW DELHI — Pakistan has sent Nepal packets of beef masala as part of its relief package to the Himalayan nation devastated by a recent earthquake, according to a report in the Mail Today, even as rescue teams struggled to reach remote villages near the epicentre to provide aid amid pouring rain.
As hope faded for finding people alive under tonnes of rubble, a report in the Mail Today on Thursday kicked up a storm on social platforms, which most aid workers are using extensively to maintain communication as they join the effort by the government of many nations to provide timely help to those who survived the 7.9 quake last Saturday.
Indian doctors at Kathmandu's Bir Hospital were taken aback after spotting packets of beef masala among other relief material sent by Pakistan, according to the report. The majority of Nepal's population is Hindu and the slaughtering of cows is banned in the nation.
The issue can potentially trigger tension between the two countries.
The doctors who spotted the packets are from Delhi's Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). They are a part of a 34-member team sent to Nepal to treat those injured in the disaster.
"When we reached the airport to collect the food items from Pakistan, we found packets of ready-to-eat meals, including packets of 'beef masala'. There were other food items too," the report quoted Dr Balwinder Singh as saying.
The doctors reportedly chose not to have the food sent from Pakistan and ate at a hotel instead. Another doctor said that the locals were not aware of the content of the packets. "Pakistan has hurt Nepal's religious sentiments by supplying the masala. Shockingly, it did not care about the sensitivity of the matter," he said.
Rescue teams toiled in pouring rain on Thursday in the debris but officials said the chances of finding any more survivors were bleak as the death toll neared 5,500, Reuters reported. Helicopters could not fly to the worst-hit areas in the countryside of the impoverished nation.
Anger over the slow pace of the rescue flared with protests outside parliament. In the interior, villagers blocked trucks carrying supplies, demanding the government do more to hasten the distribution of aid that has flooded into the country but has been slow to reach those in need.
"The matter has been conveyed to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and the intelligence chief. We are also starting an internal inquiry to verify the facts. If the report is correct, we will raise the matter at the diplomatic level with Pakistan. India, being our key partner, will also be informed of the developments," the report quoted a top government official as saying.