(NEW DELHI) — A four-story rickety hotel building collapsed in central India, killing at least 10 people and injuring three, police said Sunday.
Rescuers working through the night with sledgehammers and chain saws pulled alive 10 people from the debris of the building, which came crashing down Saturday night in Indore, a city in Madhya Pradesh state, said police officer Sanju Kamle.
Up to five people may still be trapped under the rubble, said Nishant Warwade, the district collector.
The Times of India newspaper said the dilapidated building collapsed after a car smashed into its front portion.
The hotel with 25 rooms was located in the commercial hub of Indore, close to railway and bus stations. Indore is around 900 kilometers (560 miles) south of New Delhi.
Building collapses are common in India as builders try to cut corners by using substandard materials, and as multi-story structures are erected with inadequate supervision. The massive demand for housing around India’s cities and pervasive corruption often result in builders adding unauthorized floors or putting up illegal buildings.
In August 2017, 33 people were killed when an apartment building collapsed in India’s financial capital of Mumbai.
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Al Qaeda threatens attacks in Delhi, Mumbai for ‘victory’ in Kashmir
In a video interview with al Qaeda’s mouthpiece, released on jihadi online networks, Usama Mehmood, spokesman of al Qaeda in Indian sub-continent, said there could be no easy solution to the Kashmir issue which needs “blood and sweat” of Muslims.
Calling for attacks in Delhi and Mumbai, the al Qaeda said it was necessary for “the jihadi movement to strengthen and expand its activities in the region and target Indian interests.”(PTI Photo)
Global terror network al Qaeda that formally announced its affiliate in Jammu and Kashmir earlier this year has said targeting Indian cities and sidelining Pakistan and its army were key to jihadi success in the state.
In a video interview with Al Qaeda’s mouthpiece, released on jihadi online networks, Usama Mehmood, spokesman of al Qaeda in Indian sub-continent, said there could be no easy solution to the Kashmir issue which needs “blood and sweat” of Muslims.
Mehmood, in the 42-minute video recorded in Urdu, said it was necessary for “the jihadi movement to strengthen and expand its activities in the region and target Indian interests.
“India has protected itself by deploying 600,000 troops in a small place like Kashmir. We will target it and its interests in Kolkata, Bangalore and New Delhi, it will come to its senses, its atrocities will be controlled and its grip on Kashmir will weaken by the will of Allah,” said the group’s second-in-command in the sub-continent.
This is the first detailed al Qaeda talk on its activities in Kashmir since July 27 this year when the group announced it was establishing an affiliate in Jammu and Kashmir called Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, headed by the 23-year-old former Kashmir commander of the pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen, Zakir Musa.
The al Qaeda announcement was promptly rejected by militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen. Even the Hurriyat Conference dismissed it, saying the Kashmir issue was political and had nothing to do with global Islamist jihad even as the longstanding militant outfits also espouse an Islamist outlook for Kashmir.
Mehmood called on all Muslims in the sub-continental region, including from India, to “stand behind the Kashmiri people and perform their duties for jihad in Kashmir”.
“It is imperative to wage jihad against India. It can only happen when jihadi activities are strengthened in the entire region.
“We should help our Kashmiri brothers first, defend our jihad from apostatic forces like Pakistan Army and its policies and then expand the jihadi activities,” he said, terming the Pakistan Army “an obstacle in the path of victory, is an enemy of the sharia and a slave of global infidels”.
“It fights only for its salary, personal aggrandisement and plots of land. It is the same army that spills the blood of the mujahideen for American dollars.”
Citing al Qaeda’s attacks against the US within and outside America, he said: “Look at America. Securing itself has become difficult for America throughout the world. We will make it difficult for the Indian Army and Indian government the same way and make its peaceful world a war zone.”
The video also shows clips of slain al Qaeda military commander Illyas Kashmiri and frequently cites quotes from the book of Afzal Guru, who was hanged for his involvement in the 2001 Parliament attack.
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Two pastors who were attacked and beaten by Hindu extremists right before the beginning of a three-day Gospel meeting in India’s Chhattisgarh state were forced to apologize because their conference and the words of Jesus caused snowflake radicals to be offended.
A local pastor told Morning Star News, a nonprofit news agency that reports on Christian persecution, that pastors Vijay Jogi and Santosh Rao were coerced by police into signing an apology letter to a mob of Hindus who prevented them from holding their Gospel meeting that was to be attended by over 1,000 people at Railway Grounds in Charoda.
On Nov. 16, a group of about 70 Hindu nationalists attacked the pastors just minutes before the event was about to start.
“Pastor Vijay Jogi and Pastor Santosh Rao were receiving the people at the entrance,” Pastor Amos James told the outlet. “Suddenly a mob of 70 Hindu Dharm Sena and Bajrang Dal activists gheraoed (encircled) the entrance, and Pastor Jogi and Pastor Rao were beaten and summoned to the police station.”
Jogi told Morning Star News that the extremists slapped Rao three times and then proceeded to beat them both.
Jogi explained that before the start of the meeting, he had received a call from local police warning them to call the meeting off. It wasn’t until after the attack that they realized that “these people will not let us conduct prayers.”
According to Jogi, the Hindu extremists became upset when they saw the words of Luke 7:22-23 in pamphlets around the area advertising the event.
That verse states: “And [Jesus] answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.'”
“The Hindu activists began arguing with us, ‘You are promoting blind beliefs. How can lame walk? How can deaf hear? How can you raise the dead? When your God can do all this, why are you people going to the doctors then?'” Jogi recalled.
“They told me it is very wrong that I have written these lines,” the pastor continued. “I said, ‘I did not write these words. It’s a verse taken from the Holy Bible and applies to the entire humankind.”‘
The activists declared, “We are offended by these lines,” Jogi said.
“If because I quoted these lines in the pamphlet, it is offending you at personal level, I apologize to you brothers. We are very sorry,” Jogi recalled telling the Hindu radicals.
Although Christian leaders in the area have had no issues holding events in that location in the past 20 years, the Hindu mob reportedly claimed that the pastors needed to have approval for the event from the sub-judicial magistrate in addition to approval from the railway police.
The extremists then took the pastors down to the police station, where the pastors were also questioned by the police about needing the approval of a sub-judicial magistrate.
“The police told me to settle the matter here and stop the event immediately,” Jogi claimed. “I was cautioned while Pastor Rao and I were in the police station that the activists are tearing and burning the banners, breaking the tube lights, chairs and dismantling the stage. The police officer told us even if he lodged a case [against the extremists], it would go strongly against us, and that even he can’t help it. The police did not register an FIR.”
Pastor Rao told Morning Star News that Hindu radicals badgered them while they were at the police station and asked questions like “Why are you calling Hindus to your events?” and “Why are you conducting open gospel meetings publicly?” The extremists demanded that the Christian leaders only work among Christians.
Rao explained that once the police were on the Hindu mob’s side, there was “very little hope for Christians in a situation like this.”
While Jogi and Rao were in the police station, they were “forced to sign a letter handwritten by the activists under the supervision of BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) worker Rajguru Ghosale.”
“The letter said by conducting this meeting we hurt the feelings of Hindus, we sincerely apologize for it and canceling the event,” Rao recalled. “They slapped me to sign it.”
The pastors told Morning Star News that they will not file charges against the Hindus or the police.
“We will conduct the gospel meetings again in May. We are not giving up this time. With permissions from all the authorities and government officials, we will conduct the meetings,” Jogi was quoted as saying. “The activists are following me wherever I go. I know there is threat to my life. But I have dedicated my life fully to my Lord’s work, and I will be at it till my last breath.”
The news surrounding the Gospel meeting in Charoda comes as India ranks as the 15th-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2017 World Watch List.
Most recently, it was reported that seven pastors in Northern India were arrested and could face up to three years in prison after they were accused of forcible conversion. The arrests occurred after the pastors were called to a home in Uttar Pradesh to pray for a recent Christian convert and her husband. However, family members were upset by the couple’s conversion and complained about a forced conversion to police, which eventually led to the seven pastors’ arrests.
“India continues its trajectory towards despair,” Wilson Chowdhry, the chairman of the London-based charity British Asian Christian Association, said in a recent statement. “The caste system is gaining renewed impetus, destroying the lives of disenfranchised citizens simply for the families they were born into. Worse, still every minority living in the midst of the Hindu majority are living through a time of increased suspicion and animosity.”
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWS AGENCY ‘DAWN’)
((oped) TO SAVE THE LIVES OF MANY THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE IT IS OF UP MOST IMPORTANCE THAT SOMEONE IN PAKISTAN PUT A LITTLE GRAY PILL BETWEEN THIS MANS EYES AS SOON AS HE STEPS OUT OF HIS HOUSE TOMORROW, ISN’T IT?) (trs)
A day earlier, the Lahore High Court had refused to extend detention orders against Saeed, whose current house arrest is going to expire on Nov 24 (Friday).
The review board under the chair of Justice Abdul Sami Khan passed these orders after a senior finance ministry official failed to convince the board that the release of Saeed would bring diplomatic and financial problems to the country.
The JuD chief had been placed under house arrest on January 31 for 90 days. Subsequently, his house arrest had been extended several times.
“India is outraged that a self-confessed and a UN proscribed terrorist is allowed to walk free and continue with his agenda,” Raveesh Kumar, India’s foreign ministry spokesman, told reporters at a weekly briefing in New Delhi.
Kumar said Saeed’s release will give an impression that Pakistan supports non-state actors.
Saeed was declared a global terrorist by the US and the United Nations over his alleged role in the attacks that left nearly 166 people dead, including Western nationals.
JuD is considered by the US and India to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant group blamed for the attacks.
The United States identifies Lashkar-e-Taiba as one of the largest and most active terrorist organisations in South Asia. Founded in 1987 by Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Azzam and Zafar Iqbal in Afghanistan, the group was headquartered in Muridke before it was disbanded and re-organised.
Following the LHC’s decision to cut his detention short, Saeed had told media that the decision was tantamount to “the victory of truth” and called it “a serious blow” to India’s demands.
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New Delhi (CNN)At least 22 people have been killed and 35 injured in a stampede at a train station during morning rush hour in the Indian financial hub of Mumbai, according to Deepak Deoraj, spokesman for the Mumbai police department.
The deadly stampede happened around 10:30 a.m. local time Friday on a footbridge at Prabhadevi train station, formerly known as Elphinstone station, Anil Saxena, spokesman for India’s Ministry of Railways told local media.
Saxena said the crowd on the footbridge grew larger as people took cover during an unexpected rain shower. Once the rain stopped the crowd started moving and someone “must have slipped” leading to the initial blockage.
Television and social media footage from the scene shows heaving crowds of trapped commuters desperately trying to climb over railings and stairways to escape the crush, as lifeless bodies are pulled free.
Indian rescue teams inspect the bridge where the deadly stampede in Prabhadevi train station took place.
In a message posted to his official social media account, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his “deepest condolences to all those who have lost their lives due to the stampede in Mumbai.”
My deepest condolences to all those who have lost their lives due to the stampede in Mumbai. Prayers with those who are injured.
This is the second tragedy in less than four weeks to hit the western metropolis of more than 18 million. A building collapsed in the city following a week of heavy rains at the end of August, killing more than 33 people.
Relatives of victims injured in the stampede react as they wait at a nearby hospital.
India’s railways Minister Piyush Goyal is currently in Mumbai for a scheduled event. Writing on Twitter, he offered condolences to the families of those who had died in the stampede and promised a high level inquiry.
Goyal, who has spearheaded India’s nascent drive to modernize its railway network and introduce high-speed bullet trains, came under fire on social media, however, as people took to Twitter to vent their anger at the allegedly dilapidated state of Mumbai’s rail infrastructure.
The Indian rail network carries more than 23 million passengers daily, the equivalent to moving the entire population of Australia, and connects 8,000 stations across the subcontinent.
Speaking to CNN in January this year, Debolina Kundu, associate professor at the Indian National Institute of Urban Affairs, described the network’s underlying infrastructure as stretched and overstressed. “Most of the bridges and culverts (tunnels) have outlived their lives,” she said.
Prabhadevi Railway Station, which was first opened in the 1800s and has two platforms, is located in the heart of central Mumbai close to the exclusive Worli district, home to some of the city’s most expensive real estate.
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FILE PHOTO: A worker levels a salt pan near electricity pylons in Mumbai, India, January 16, 2017.Shailesh Andrade/File Photo
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India is tightening the rules for businesses entering its power transmission sector and making stringent checks on both power and telecoms equipment for malware – moves that government and industry officials say aim to check China’s advance into sensitive sectors.
Chinese firms such as Harbin Electric (1133.HK), Dongfang Electronics (000682.SZ), Shanghai Electric (601727.SS) and Sifang Automation either supply equipment or manage power distribution networks in 18 cities in India.
Local firms have long lobbied against Chinese involvement in the power sector, raising security concerns and saying they get no reciprocal access to Chinese markets.
With India and China locked in their most serious military face-off in three decades, the effort to restrict Chinese business has gathered more support from within the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, worried about the possibility of a cyber attack.
The Indian government is considering a report prepared by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) that sets new conditions for firms bidding for power transmission contracts, tipping the scales in favor of local companies.
According to an official involved in drafting the report, who asked not to be named, it says companies looking to invest in India should have been operating there for at least 10 years, have Indian citizens as top executives, and employees of the foreign firm should have lived in India for a certain period, the official said.
Those companies have to detail where they procure the raw materials for transmission systems, and will be barred from further operations in India if their materials contain malware.
Though the report makes no direct reference to China, the official said the recommendations are intended to deter China from making further headway in India, because of the security risks.
CEA Chairman R.K. Verma said the possibility of a crippling cyber attack on India’s power systems was a key consideration while drafting the policy. “Cyber attacks are a challenge,” he told Reuters.
A representative of a Chinese enterprise engaged in exporting electric power equipment in India told China’s state-run Global Times that India’s industry has long tried to block foreign competition under the garb of safety issues.
“Now, as Sino-Indian relations are getting intense, the old tune is on again. But in fact, it is unrealistic to completely ban China and India power investment cooperation. India will pay a huge price for this,” the paper said.
Shanghai Electric, Harbin Electric, Dongfang Electronics and state-run China Southern Power Grid Co Ltd, all involved in India or trying to enter, did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the proposed Indian investment rules.
FILE PHOTO: A woman talks on her mobile phone in Kolkata, India July 5, 2017.Rupak De Chowdhuri/File Photo
The Indian government is moving simultaneously on the telecoms sector, demanding higher security standards in an area dominated by Chinese makers of equipment and smartphones.
In a letter reviewed by Reuters, the ministry of electronics and information technology has asked 21 smartphone makers, most of them Chinese, to provide details about the “safety and security practices, architecture frameworks, guidelines, standards, etc followed in your product/services in the country.”
Chinese vendors such as Xiaomi [XTC.UL], Lenovo (0992.HK), Oppo, Vivo and Gionee together account for over half of India’s $10 billion smartphone market. The letter, dated Aug. 12, was also sent to Apple (AAPL.O), Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and local maker Micromax (MINR.NS), a ministry source said.
India has also privately raised objections to Chinese firm Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group’s (600196.SS) proposed $1.3 billion takeover of Indian drugmaker Gland Pharma, it emerged last month.
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“There’s a lot of resentment against China for meddling in our internal affairs, supporting Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism, and, on the other hand, posing a huge loss to our trade and industry each year,” said Satish Kumar, national president of the Swadesh Jagran Manch, a right-wing nationalist group with ties to Modi’s ruling party.
The group has this year run a campaign asking Indians not to buy Chinese goods to protect local industry and reset a trade deficit of more than $51 billion.
India has used Chinese equipment for power generation and distribution as it looks to provide affordable electricity to an estimated 250 million people who are off the grid.
China Southern Power Grid, in association with CLP India Pvt Ltd, is among Chinese firms bidding for power transmission lines, Power Minister Piyush Goyal told Parliament this month.
Sunil Misra, director-general of the Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers’ Association, said the new rules for power transmission would help local industry and were in line with the limited access China gives to foreigners in its market.
Indian firms engaged in the power sector include Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL.NS), Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals Ltd (CROP.NS) and Larsen & Toubro Ltd LART.N.
Security agencies have implemented a series of protocols and checks for Chinese equipment coming into the power sector, said another person involved in drafting the CEA report.
“This is recent and happening quietly,” he said.
Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom and Sankalp Phartiyal in MUMBAI; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Ian Geoghegan