The death toll from floods in the Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra has risen to at least 147, according to authorities, as rescue teams raced to evacuate people and waters submerged parts of a world heritage site. Heavy rain and landslides forced hundreds of thousands of people to take shelter in relief camps, while train services were canceled in several flood-hit areas.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, addressed the nation Thursday night for the first time about his government’s unilateral decision to revoke Kashmir’s autonomy, speaking against a backdrop of rising protests, mass arrests and escalating tensions with Pakistan. Mr. Modi defended the action, arguing that it would make the restive territory more secure. “A new era has begun,” he said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to change the status of Kashmir ran into fierce opposition from China and its ally Pakistan on Tuesday as the disputed territory lay under a telecoms blackout to forestall protests for a second day. China said it opposed India’s decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status and that New Delhi needed to be cautious on border issues.
India’s government has revoked part of the constitution that gives Indian-administered Kashmir special status, prompting fears of unrest. Article 370 is sensitive because it guarantees significant autonomy for the Muslim-majority state. The measure was accompanied by a telecoms and media blackout which began on Sunday evening. There is a long-running insurgency on the Indian side. India and Pakistan fought several conflicts over Kashmir.
Top politicians in Indian-administered Kashmir have been put under house arrest, days after thousands of troops were deployed to the disputed region. Last week authorities also ordered tourists and Hindu pilgrims to leave, citing a “terror threat” against an annual pilgrimage to a major shrine. Kashmir has been under governor’s rule since June 2018 when the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled out of a state government coalition with the regional People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Authorities in Southern India recovered the body of coffee baron V.G. Siddhartha floating in a river on Wednesday, two days after his disappearance sparked speculation that he was under intense financial strain. The recovery of Siddhartha’s body unnerved investors in his flagship listed Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd and sent its shares plunging to an all-time low on Wednesday.
India has successfully launched its second lunar mission a week after it halted the scheduled blast-off due to a technical snag. Chandrayaan-2 was launched at 14:43 local time (09:13 GMT) on Monday from the Sriharikota space station. India hopes the $145m (£116m) mission will be the first to land on the Moon’s south pole. Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the mission for being “fully indigenous”.
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.