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.
Pakistan says it has shot down two Indian military jets and captured two pilots in a major escalation between the nuclear powers over Kashmir. India says it lost one MiG21 fighter and a pilot was missing in action. India and Pakistan – both nuclear-armed states – claim all of Kashmir, but control only parts of it. The aerial attacks across the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Indian and Pakistani territory are the first since a war in 1971. They follow a militant attack in Kashmir which killed 40 Indian troops – the deadliest to take place during a three-decade insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir.
India has carried out aerial bombing over the disputed ceasefire line in Kashmir for the first time since it went to war with Pakistan in 1971, claiming to have hit a large militant training camp. The Indian foreign secretary, Vijay Gokhale, said in a briefing that Delhi had received credible intelligence that the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant group, which killed 40 Indian security personnel in a suicide bombing earlier this month, was training fighters for similar attacks. Imran Khan, the Pakistani prime minister, said India’s claim that it had hit a terrorist training camp was “a self-serving, reckless and fictitious claim”.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday said his visit to India will improve centuries-old ties, which he said are “in our DNA.” In brief remarks at the president’s palace where he was given a ceremonial welcome, the crown prince did not make any reference to rising tensions between India and Pakistan. He arrived in India on Tuesday night after visiting Pakistan, which New Delhi blames for a suicide bombing last week that killed at least 40 Indian soldiers in disputed Kashmir.
At least seven people, including two armed rebels and four Indian army soldiers, have been killed in an ongoing gun battle in India-administered Kashmir. The gun battle on Monday in Pinglan village of Pulwama district comes days after 42 Indian security personnel were killed in a suicide blast – the worst such attack in 30 years of Kashmir conflict, which has raised fears of confrontation with archenemy Pakistan.
A suicide bomber rammed a car into a bus carrying Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir on Thursday, killing 44 of them in the deadliest attack in decades on security forces in the disputed region, raising tensions with arch foe Pakistan. The Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack. The Indian government accused Pakistan of letting militant groups operate from its soil and called on it to take action. Islamabad said it rejected the suggestion it was linked to the attack.