An Indian magician, who attempted to recreate Harry Houdini’s famed trick by jumping shackled into a river, is feared dead. He was shackled with six locks and a chain as spectators on two boats watched him. Chanchal Lahiri was meant to escape and swim to safety but did not emerge from the Hooghly river in West Bengal state.
Almost 50 children have died in northern India over the past three weeks from a brain disease that has been linked to toxins in lychees. Two hospitals in the city of Muzaffarpur had registered a total of 179 cases since January, they said, but the deaths occurred only in the past few weeks. The state health department has blamed hypoglycemia — low blood sugar — for the children’s deaths but said that lychee fruit, which is widely grown in the region, also plays a role.
Government forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed a top militant commander linked to al-Qaida in the disputed region, officials said on Friday. Zakir Musa was killed Thursday evening in a gunfight after police and soldiers launched a counterinsurgency operation in the southern Tral area, said Col. Rajesh Kalia, an Indian army spokesman. His killing triggered violent anti-India protests in many places. Previously, no global jihadi groups have openly operated in Kashmir, a territory divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both entirely.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has secured another five-year term after winning a landslide general election victory. Results so far show his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to win about 300 of the 543 seats in parliament. Over 600 million people voted in a marathon six-week process. The main opposition alliance, which is headed by Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party, is yet to concede. The vote had been widely viewed as a referendum on the prime minister’s Hindu nationalist politics.
What is expected to be India’s strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in nearly five years is barreling towards 100 million people on the east coast, causing officials to begin emergency evacuations. On Thursday, Tropical Cyclone Fani had winds of 190 kmph (118 mph) with gusts of 201 kmph (124 mph), making it equivalent in intensity to a Category 3 major hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
It is expected to hit Odisha state on Friday afternoon. Some 900 cyclone shelters have been set up across Odisha to house evacuees and school is canceled across the state on Thursday and Friday.
Indians have begun voting in the first phase of a general election that is being seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Tens of millions of Indians across 20 states and union territories are voting in 91 constituencies. The seven-phase vote to elect a new lower house of parliament will continue until 19 May. Counting day is 23 May. With 900 million eligible voters across the country, this is the largest election ever seen.
Pakistan’s foreign minister says the government has “reliable intelligence” that India was planning an attack next week — claims its nuclear neighbor immediately dismissed as “irresponsible and preposterous.” In remarks on Pakistan’s state broadcaster PTV Sunday, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said India was plotting a “new aggression” between April 16 and 20. Qureshi said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given his armed forces the green light for attacking targets both in Kashmir and Pakistan. India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the claims were baseless, accusing Qureshi of encouraging Pakistan-based militants to attack targets in India.
India’s anti-satellite missile test created at least 400 pieces of orbital debris, the head of NASA says — placing the International Space Station (ISS) and its astronauts at risk. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Monday that just 60 pieces of debris were large enough to track. Of those, 24 went above the apogee of the ISS, the point of the space station’s orbit farthest from the Earth. “That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on March 27 that the country had achieved a “historic feat” by shooting down its own low-orbit satellite with a ground-to-space missile.
India expects space debris from its anti-satellite weapons launch to burn out in less than 45 days, its top defense scientist said on Thursday, seeking to allay global concern about fragments hitting objects. The comments came a day after India said it used an indigenously developed ballistic missile interceptor to destroy one of its own satellites at a height of 300 km (186 miles), in a test aimed at boosting its defenses in space. Critics say such technology, known to be possessed only by the United States, Russia and China, raises the prospect of an arms race in outer space, besides posing a hazard by creating a cloud of fragments that could persist for years.
US President Donald Trump announced plans Monday to end special trade treatment for India, accusing it of unfairly shutting out American businesses. In a letter to Congress, Trump signaled his intent to remove India from a program that gives developing countries easier access to US markets. Last April, the US government said it would review India’s eligibility in the program after some American companies said their dairy and medical device shipments to India were being hurt by non-tariff barriers.