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Posts tagged ‘Indian Peninsula’

Stampede on crowded Indian pedestrian bridge leaves 22 dead

September 29, 2017

MUMBAI, India (AP) — A stampede broke out on a crowded pedestrian bridge connecting two railway stations in Mumbai during the Friday morning rush, killing at least 22 people and injuring 32 others, Indian officials said.

Police were investigating what caused the stampede on the bridge, which led some commuters to leap over the railing. Others were crushed or fell underfoot and were trampled. “There were too many people on the bridge, and the people were in hurry and wanted to move out,” said Brijesh Upadhyay, one of the many caught in the crowd. “There was nobody helping, it was very suffocating, and we just wanted to get out of there — and fell on each other.”

One rescuer told Indian broadcaster NDTV that the stampede trapped dozens in the narrow passage, forcing rescuers to break the railing to pull people out. Mumbai police official Gansham Patel said some falling concrete had hit part of the bridge railing, leading people to surge forward out of panic at the thought that the bridge was collapsing.

Commuters also often complain about hawkers selling their wares on the narrow overpass, which connects two commuter railway stations, Elphinstone and Parel. Heavy rains meant the bridge was even more crowded than usual, as some sought shelter from the downpour under the canopy covering the bridge, said lawmaker Shaina Nana Chudasama of the governing Bhartiya Janata Party.

Hospitals were treating 32 injured people, including 19 women and 13 men. As Mumbai police appealed to citizens to donate blood to help the injured, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences to the families of those killed.

“Prayers with those who are injured,” Modi tweeted. Separately in the southern city of Banglaore, two people were killed in another stampede by hundreds of people jostling to obtain coupons for free food offered by a local philanthropist, police said. The philanthropist has been detained for questioning.

Deadly stampedes are fairly common in densely populated India, where many cities are unequipped to deal with large crowds gathering in small areas, with few safety or crowd control measures. In October 2013, a stampede in Madhya Pradesh state in central India killed more than 110 people, mostly women and children.

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China, India soldiers hurl stones at 1 another in Kashmir

August 16, 2017

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Indian and Chinese soldiers yelled and hurled stones at one another high in the Himalayas in Indian-controlled Kashmir, Indian officials said Wednesday, potentially escalating tensions between two nations already engaged in a lengthy border standoff elsewhere.

The Chinese soldiers hurled stones while attempting to enter Ladakh region near Pangong Lake on Tuesday but were confronted by Indian soldiers, said a top police officer. The officer said Indian soldiers retaliated but neither side used guns.

China did not comment directly on the reported incident, but called on India to comply with earlier agreements and help maintain peace and stability along the border. An Indian intelligence officer said the confrontation occurred after Indian soldiers intercepted a Chinese patrol that veered into Indian-held territory after apparently it lost its way due to bad weather.

The officer said that soon the soldiers began shouting at each other and later threw stones. He said some soldiers from both sides received minor injuries. After nearly 30 minutes of facing off, the two sides retreated to their positions, he said.

An Indian military officer said the skirmish was brief but violent and for the first time stones were used. All the officers spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Soldiers from the two countries are already locked in a bitter but non-violent standoff in Doklam, an area disputed between China and India’s ally Bhutan, where New Delhi sent its soldiers in June to stop China from constructing a strategic road.

China demands that Indian troops withdraw unilaterally from the Doklam standoff before any talks can be held, while New Delhi says each side should stand down. China and India fought a border war in 1962 and much of their frontier remains unsettled despite several rounds of official-level talks.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Chinese troops sought to avoid confrontations and said India should “make tangible efforts to maintain the peace and stability of the border areas between the two countries.”

“I have no knowledge of the details you mentioned, but what I can tell you is that Chinese border troops have always been committed to maintaining the peace and tranquility of the China-India border areas,” Hua told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference.

The website of New Delhi-based English weekly India Today quoted a report by the Indian military intelligence, which said the use of stones was unprecedented and appeared intended to heighten tension without using lethal weapons. The report said the worst that has happened earlier was an isolated slap or pushing between soldiers from the two sides.

India’s worries over Chinese repeated border crossings into Kashmir’s Ladakh region have seen a massive Indian army buildup in the cold desert in recent years. The disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir is divided between nuclear-armed India, Pakistan and China. The part held by China is contiguous to Tibet.

Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.

Judge sends Indian guru to jail for 10 years for rape

August 28, 2017

ROHTAK, India (AP) — A judge on Monday sentenced a popular and flamboyant Indian spiritual guru to 10 years in prison on charges of raping two female followers. The sentence was pronounced amid intense security at a prison in the northern town of Rohtak where the guru, who calls himself Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, has been held since his conviction Friday.

The conviction sparked violent protests by the guru’s followers that left at least 38 people dead and hundreds injured. Ahead of the sentencing announcement, train and bus services to Rohtak were suspended to prevent the guru’s supporters from gathering in the town, located in Haryana state. A curfew was also imposed in Rohtak.

Local police said several layers of security were in place around the prison and that government troops had permission to use firearms if any violence erupted. All cars entering the town were being searched.

The guru has denied raping the two followers, in a case that stems from charges filed in 2002. Few details were immediately available following the sentencing, but the guru’s lawyers can appeal the verdict to a higher court. The rape charges were investigated by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, and a special CBI court convicted and sentenced the guru.

The minimum sentence for the charges was seven years and the maximum was life in prison. The bling-loving leader is fond of red leather jackets, bejeweled hats, bicep-baring T-shirts — and cinema. He has started a film franchise in which he stars as the “Messenger of God,” or MSG, with divine powers to save the world. In his most recent film, he plays a secret agent armed with a twirled moustache and an assortment of swords to fight aliens and UFOs.

Security was high Monday across Haryana and the neighboring state of Punjab, with schools and offices shut in many places. A curfew was also in place in Sirsa town, where the sprawling main headquarters of the guru’s Sacha Sauda sect are located. Since Saturday, police have been asking followers to leave the ashram compound, and around 20,000 people left.

Local police spokesman Surjeet Singh said some people were still inside the compound, but that it was impossible to know how many. He said about 4,000 government troops, including army and paramilitary soldiers, were patrolling the tiny town and the area outside the ashram.

When the guru was found guilty on Friday, tens of thousands of his enraged followers set fire to government buildings, vandalized bus stations and government vehicles, and attacked police and TV journalists in Panchkula, where the verdict was announced.

The sect claims to have about 50 million followers and campaigns for vegetarianism and against drug addiction. It also organizes blood-donation and tree-planting drives. Religious sects like the Dera Sacha Sauda have huge followings in India. These sects and their leaders inspire intense devotion among their believers and also wield considerable political clout. Many maintain private militias for their protection.

The rape conviction isn’t the guru’s only brush with the law. He is awaiting trial on a murder charge over the death of a journalist, and is also under investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation over allegations of forcing several male followers to undergo castrations to bring them closer to God. He has denied the accusations.

Naqvi reported from New Delhi.

Merkel hosts Indian leader Modi, looks to broaden world ties

May 30, 2017

BERLIN (AP) — The leaders of Germany and India heaped mutual praise upon each other Tuesday — each referring to the other as a “reliable partner” in a notable contrast to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent public doubts about Germany’s ties with the United States.

Merkel suggested that Europe’s relationship with the U.S. had shifted significantly following last week’s NATO and G-7 meetings with President Donald Trump that produced disappointing results, saying Saturday that “the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days.”

Asked Tuesday whether her meetings with senior officials from India and China this week signaled a pivot away from Germany’s old ally in Washington, Merkel sought to dampen speculation of a major rift.

“The trans-Atlantic partnership is of outstanding importance and what I said was merely meant to note that in view of the current situation there are more reasons … for us in Europe to take our fate into our own hands,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

Speaking after a meeting with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she went out of her way to laud the South Asian country as a “reliable partner” on major projects and noted that India was working hard to implement the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

“India wants the world not just to be interconnected but also that it should be sensibly run,” Merkel said, backing European Union talks for a trade agreement with India. Climate and trade were the two main issue of contention between the United States and other members at the G-7 summit of major economies in Sicily last week, and the topics look set to flare up again soon.

Trump criticized Germany’s trade surplus with the United States on Tuesday, tying the issue to Berlin’s military spending. “We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change,” he tweeted.

“Donald Trump is making clear with his tweet that he considers Germany a political opponent,” said Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary caucus leader of the Social Democrats, the junior partners in Merkel’s coalition government. “This is a new situation — we lived for decades in the certainty that we could rely on each other as partners in an alliance, and this certainty no longer exists today.”

Trump has also said he plans to make a decision this week on whether to withdraw the United States from the Paris accord — widely considered a key achievement of the Obama administration and a necessary measure if the world wants to avoid a sharp rise in global temperatures.

For his part, Modi declared that “the world needs a strong leadership, which is demonstrated by Chancellor Merkel.” “Germany is a large, reliable and trustworthy partner for us,” he added. Merkel is scheduled to meet with China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Wednesday.

Geir Moulson contributed to this report.

India imposes security lockdown in Kashmir to stop protests

May 28, 2017

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Government forces have enforced strict curfew in parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir after Indian soldiers killed a prominent rebel commander in the disputed region. Armed police and paramilitary soldiers on Sunday patrolled deserted streets and ordered residents indoors in the region’s main city of Srinagar and other towns to stop anti-India protests.

Thousands of people assembled in southern Tral area to take part in the funeral of the rebel leader Sabzar Ahmed Bhat, chanting slogans calling for Kashmir’s freedom from Indian rule. One civilian was killed and dozens of others injured as massive anti-India protests and clashes followed the killings across Kashmir on Saturday. Eight militants were shot dead by security forces.

India and Pakistan administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the territory in its entirety.

Indian Space Agency Test-Drives Solar Electric Hybrid Vehicle

New Delhi (Sputnik)

May 04, 2017

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) added another milestone to its list of achievements by successfully showcasing a solar-electric hybrid vehicle. ISRO’s different engineering branches at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram developed the vehicle.

The team working on the project developed a solar panel to fit on the roof of a car, along with an internal gearbox, control electronics for the battery and solar panel, and a conversion kit for fitting an electric motor to a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.

The vehicle was powered by ISRO’s famed Lithium-ion batteries, with a high power supercapacitor to meet the power demands to achieve required torque. ISRO also ensured to not compromise the safety while integrating various subsystems.

The vehicle was successfully test-driven, including an uphill drive. The space agency will now focus on building indigenous Lithium-ion fuel cells, supercapacitors and an electric motor.

“ISRO is doing a lot of things in addition to launching satellites. And all projects are interlinked and laying down the foundation for an industrial complex which will boost innovation and job creation. They have started sub-contracting many of their product building processes, which again will help in the growth of industries,” Dr. Mayank N. Vahia, Department of Astrophysics, at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, told Sputnik.

India is aiming to push the use of electric vehicles to tackle rising pollution in its cities with the government setting a target of 6 million electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads by 2020 under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles.

The sales of electric vehicles in India is currently very low, rising 37.5 percent to 22,000 units in the year ended March 31, 2016, over 16,000 in 2014-15, according to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles. Of these 22,000 vehicles, only 2,000 were cars and other four-wheelers.

The high cost of batteries, a majority of which are imported, is a major hindrance to the development of the sector. Yet another challenge is to create a network of docking stations or charging stations for electric vehicles although that is more of a demand-related problem.

“A helping hand is required to create the infrastructure… There are two concerns for electric vehicles-first is cost and second is infrastructure,” Mint quoted Abdul Majeed, partner and national auto practice leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers as saying.

The government recently asked ISRO to share its technology on Lithium-ion batteries with other public and private sector firms to give a push to the production of batteries in India and bring down the cost of electric vehicles.

Source: Solar Daily.

Link: http://www.solardaily.com/reports/Indian_Space_Agency_Test_Drives_Solar_Electric_Hybrid_Vehicle_999.html.

India has capability to develop space station, says top official

New Delhi (XNA)

Mar 03, 2017

India has the capability to develop a space station, a top official of the state-owned space agency has said.

“We have all the capabilities to set up a space station. The day the country takes the decision, we will okay the project. Just draw a policy and provide us necessary funds and time,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief A.S. Kiran Kumar told the media Monday.

The ISRO chief’s statement came barely a week after India launched 104 satellites in a single space mission, breaking the previous record of 37 satellites launched by Russia in 2014.

India had in September 2014 launched a successful mission to Mars, called Mangalyaan, at a budget of just 4.5 billion Indian rupees (74 million U.S. dollars), which by Western standards is fairly cheap.

The Indian government has increased the budget for its space program this year and also announced plans to send a mission to Venus.

Over the past two decades, India has become a key player in the lucrative commercial space market offering a low-cost alternative.

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/India_has_capability_to_develop_space_station_says_top_official_999.html.

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