‘Sea change in Pakistan’s attitude towards India after Balakot air strike’, says PM Modi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

‘Sea change in Pakistan’s attitude towards India after Balakot air strike’, says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Pakistan’s attitude towards India and that during the Congress government has undergone a sea change and terrorists and their sponsors in Pakistan are living in fear.

LOK SABHA ELECTIONS Updated: Apr 11, 2019 21:27 IST

Avijit Biswas
Avijit Biswas
Hindustan Times, Bhagalpur
Lok Sabha Elections 2019,Election Rally,Election news
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the audience during an election rally, in Bhagalpur on Thursday.(Santosh Kumar /HT Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that in order to talk of peace it is essential to be strong as he came down heavily on the opposition, particularly Congress, over national security.

At an election rally in Bhagalpur, Modi said that the country has emerged stronger after retaliatory action against Pakistan following the Pulwama terror strike. He said the air strike was carried out to address “the restlessness of 130 crore people of country for a firm and definite action against Pakistan”.

“Pakistan’s attitude towards India today and that during the Congress government has undergone a sea change,” the PM said. “Terrorists as well as well as their sponsors in Pakistan are living in fear.”

He attacked the opposition alliance for “speaking the language that supports terrorism”. He stressed that the opposition alliance should clarify whether they are with terrorists or with armed forces.

Modi who was campaigning for JD (U) nominees contesting as NDA candidates from Munger, Banka and Bhagalpur parliamentary seats, said the NDA has a clear policy of giving free hand to armed forces in the fight against terrorism and extremism. While he did not mention the Congress manifesto, he asked the people whether they approve curtailing power of the armed forces. The Congress manifesto promises to review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act which gives the forces in disturbed areas sweeping powers of search and arrest and provides immunity from prosecution in civil courts.

He said as chowkidar of the people he has done what was expected from his government for social security and national security. He referred to works undertaken in social security front under various centrally sponsored schemes including Ayushman Bharat.

He said opposition leaders were fighting for their existence and were trying their best to create fear among people that there would be no election in the country in future and that the reservation policy would be abolished if he is voted back to power.

“On the contrary I favour further strengthening of reservation policy,” Modi said and cited the 10% reservation which his government had announced for poor people of upper caste.

He referred to the government’s minimum support price agriculture produce of farmers against their crop expenditure and said the Congress had no interest in improving the lives of farmers.

“Once we are voted to power again all farmers would be covered under financial assistance scheme instead of present coverage to farmers having land holdings up to five acres,” Modi said.

He also spoke about future plans aimed at extending support to small and marginal farmers besides small businessmen. He mentioned the development work undertaken in Bihar praised Nitish Kumar’s government for its performance.

In the silk town, the PM also spoke about the problems faced by local silk industry and apprised them on what his government has been doing to boost their business globally. “The mega handloom cluster was established here as a step towards solution of your problems,” Modi said.

First Published: Apr 11, 2019 20:56 IST

India’s Defense Minister to chart course for India-US tri-service military exercise

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Nirmala Sitharaman to chart course for India-US tri-service military exercise

During her visit, Sitharaman will also be charting out the course for the first ever India-US tri-service military exercise in Bay of Bengal in May-June, 2019.

INDIA Updated: Dec 03, 2018 07:23 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nirmala Sitharaman,US Indo-Pacific Command,Hawaii
Nirmala Sitharaman will be visiting the US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii to review military-to-military relations and chart out the course for the first ever India-US tri-service military exercise in Bay of Bengal in May-June, 2019. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

Days after the apex Japan-India-America (JAI) trilateral meeting on Indo-Pacific on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be visiting the US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii to review military-to-military relations and chart the course for the first ever India-US tri-service military exercise off in Bay of Bengal in May-June, 2019. Defence minister Sitharaman left for Washington on Saturday night.

According to Indian and US diplomats familiar with the agenda of her visit, Sitharaman will be meeting her US counterpart James Mattis on December 3 to follow-up on the trilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Donald Trump and Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe and prepare grounds for sharing of information in the Indo-Pacific theatre through the secure COMCASA network. India recently signed a deal allowing it to become part of this network. With Japan, the US, Australia, and India all flying the P-8I anti-submarine surveillance aircraft, the Indo-Pacific theatre has become transparent for the QUAD grouping (of which these four countries are part) also as military information can now be exchanged through the secure network. This new network will be put to test during the tri-service amphibious exercise off the Indian seaboard next summer with all elements of Indo-Pacific command participating with their respective Indian military elements.

Senior government officials told Hindustan Times that Sitharaman will be interacting with key defence officials, thinkers and strategists on the west coast where she will be meeting a select group at Stanford university with former US National Security Advisor H R McMaster being the host. US Defence Secretary Mattis is also part of this network. She will also be visiting the highly rated Defence Innovation Unit (DIUx) in California in a bid to link Indian defence startups with this unit which aims to explore synergies between innovative US private sector firms and the Pentagon on latest technologies.

This will be largely funded by venture capital with Indian government providing the seed money. The main idea behind visiting DIUx is to understand the potential of constant technological upgrades achieved through research by private sector.

Sitharaman will be hosted by Admiral Phillip S Davidson, the top commander of all US armed forces in Indo-Pacific at Hawaii on December 6. The Minister’s visit to Hawaii is to recognize the American

effort to redefine and expand the strategic region in consultation with India. Simply put, the new definition gives India bigger play in the military affairs of the region with Japan and Australia being the other ends of the strategic grouping. The minister will also review the military to military exercises planned in future and discuss the strategic environment in the region with China in the focus.

During her meeting with Secretary Mattis at Pentagon, Sitharaman will also be exploring the acquisition of high-end military technologies for India such as the Predator-B hunter killer drone and reviewing the joint working groups on aircraft carriers and aircraft engines.

First Published: Dec 03, 2018 07:20 IST

Congress which questioned existence of Lord Ram now talking about Hinduism?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Congress which once questioned existence of Lord Ram now talking about Hinduism, says Smriti Irani

Referring to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on prime minister Narendra Modi that he did not understand the foundation of Hinduism, Smriti Irani said that it was strange that the party which had once raised question on Lord Ram’s existence was talking about Hindu and Hinduism.

INDIA Updated: Dec 02, 2018 22:20 IST

Union minister Smriti Irani hit out at the Congress saying the party which had once questioned the existence of Lord Ram was now talking about Hinduism.(PTI)

Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani on Sunday hit out at the Congress saying the party which had once questioned the existence of Lord Ram was now talking about Hinduism.

Referring to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on prime minister Narendra Modi that he did not understand the foundation of Hinduism, Irani said that it was strange that the party which had once raised question on Lord Ram’s existence was talking about Hindu and Hinduism.

“Where was the Hindu in Rahul Gandhi when Congress had submitted an affidavit that Lord Ram does not exist?..,” she asked.

In September 2007, the then UPA government withdrew from the Supreme Court its two affidavits, including a controversial one filed by the ASI claiming there was no historical or scientific evidence to establish existence of Lord Ram and Rama Setu as a man-made bridge. The then government had backtracked after the ASI affidavit triggered a massive controversy.

Read: Owaisi will have to flee like the Nizam if BJP wins, says Adityanath

When questioned on Punjab minister Navjot Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan and his remarks on chief minister Captain Amrinder Singh, Smriti Irani said that Congress president needed to answer on it.

“Why does a Congress minister insult chief minister of his state? Rahul Gandhi should answer it. Why does a Congress leader love Pakistan more than India, Congress should think about it,” she said.

She also questioned the “silence” of Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Navjot Sidhu’s Pakistan visit.

“Pakistan foreign minister said Pakistan could throw a ‘googly’ at India due to action of this (Sidhu) Congress leader. But, Rahul Gandhi is quiet on the issue..,” she said.

Also Read: Congress leaders offer prayers in temples when polls near, but for BJP they are cultural issues, says Rajnath Singh

Earlier in the day, home minister Rajnath Singh in reply to a question in Jaipur said Congress was talking about Hinduism which it has avoided discussing till now.

“Hinduism should not be connected with any sect, caste and religion. It is a way of living life and it is a human religion. What will they talk about Hindu and Hinduism? They have called Lord Ram a fictional character in the affidavit submitted in Supreme Court in Ram Setu case in 2007,” he said.

First Published: Dec 02, 2018 22:13 IST

Rahul Gandhi defending those who abused my parents: PM Narendra Modi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS AGENCY)

 

Rahul Gandhi defending those who abused my parents: PM Narendra Modi

Speaking at a public meeting in Vidisha, Modi said, “Two days ago they dragged my mother’s name during a rally and today I read in social media that they had dragged my father’s name who died 30 years ago and had nothing to do with politics, and ‘Namdaar’ (Gandhi) is defending them.

ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS Updated: Nov 25, 2018 23:55 IST

Punya Priya Mitra and Rakesh Goswami
Punya Priya Mitra and Rakesh Goswami
Hindustan Times, Vidisha/Alwar
Narendra Modi,Rahul Gandhi,Narendra Modi parents
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting for Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections campaign, in Jabalpur on November 25.(PTI Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a sharp attack on Congress president Rahul Gandhi accused him of defending those who were abusing his parents, and argued that Congress was doing so because they had run out of issues and did not want to take on the BJP on a debate over development.

Speaking at a public meeting in Vidisha, Modi said, “Two days ago they dragged my mother’s name during a rally and today I read in social media that they had dragged my father’s name who died 30 years ago and had nothing to do with politics, and ‘Namdaar’ (Gandhi) is defending them.”

Modi was referring to Congress leader Vilasrao Muttemwar’s comment during an election meeting in Rajasthan that while the world knows who Rahul Gandhi’s parents were, no one knew who Modi’s father was.

In Alwar, the PM described the Congress as the party’s ‘jatiwadi mansikta’ (caste mentality) while referring to Congress leader CP Joshi reportedly questioning the PM’s caste at an election rally in Nathdwara on Friday.

“Someone abuses my mother, someone questions my caste,” he said, while quoting both Kabir and seer Ravidas to drive home the point that humans were one despite their caste.

The PM also said that the Congress gives more importance to its leaders than Mother India, in reference to a video of Congress leader BD Kalla where he is seen stopping a man shouting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and telling him to say ‘Sonia Gandhi ki jai’.

In both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, Modi reiterated that the Congress was resorting to “jatiwaad ka zeher (the poison of caste)” and claimed the moral of the rival party was down whereas that of BJP was up.

He also said four members of one family got Bharat Ratna but Ambedkar did not get the country’s highest civilian award and the Congress ensured his defeat in elections.

Reacting to Modi’s speech, Congress’ Odisha in-charge Jitendra Singh alleged that the Prime Minister was spreading lies in the name development in Rajasthan and elsewhere. “In Modi’s speech there were many words such as ego, development, casteism, dalit, religion, dynastic, small mentality, martyrdom of jawans, one rank-one pension, welfare of farmers, development by the Vasundhara Raje government and so on. They were just lies told to cheat people,” he said.

First Published: Nov 25, 2018 23:41 IST

India: More Than 50 Dead As Train Mows Down Crowd During Hindu Festival

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Amritsar: Scores dead as train mows down crowd

Media caption Crowds celebrate Hindu festival near Amritsar

More than 50 people have been killed and 200 hurt after a train ran into a crowd near Amritsar in India’s northern Punjab state, police told the BBC.

The victims were standing on the railway tracks watching celebrations for the Hindu festival of Dusshera, eyewitnesses told BBC Punjabi.

They did not hear the train approach as they watched a firecracker-filled effigy of the demon king Ravana burn.

Officials said the priority now was to take the injured to local hospitals.

Footage posted to social media showed the fast-travelling train hitting the crowd.

The incident happened at about 18:30 local time (13:00 GMT), said local journalist Ravinder Singh Robin.

Just moments before, crowds watching the firecrackers show were asked by organizers to move back – towards the railway tracks, reports say.

The train that hit the crowds was travelling from Jalandhar to Amritsar.

Crowds celebrating the Hindu festival near Amritsar, India. Photo: 19 October 2019Image copyright BBC/RAVINDER SINGH ROBIN
Image caption The incident happened as crowds were celebrating a Hindu festival

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh described the incident as “absolutely tragic”, and wrote in a tweet that local authorities were being “mobilized”.

“We will do everything possible to assist the injured,” he said, adding: “[I] have directed the district administration to leave no stone unturned to ensure the best possible treatment for them.”

Mourning relatives near Amritsar, India. Photo: 19 October 2018Image copyright EPA
Image caption Relatives of the victims and witnesses were visibly distressed following the incident

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the incident as “heart-wrenching”.

There are fears that the death toll will rise further.

Train accidents are fairly common in India, where much of the railway equipment is out of date.

Presentational white space

Dusshera festival

An effigy of demon king Ravana is set on fire in Delhi, India. Photo: 19 October 2018Image copyright EPA
  • Celebrates the triumph of the Hindu god Rama over the 10-headed demon king Ravana
  • Marks the victory of good over evil
  • In large parts of India it is celebrated with Ramlila – a dramatic folk re-enactment of the 10-day battle
  • Staged annually – often over 10 or more successive nights
  • Festival culminates with devotees burning effigies of Ravana which are lit with firecrackers in open grounds
  • In 2005, UNESCO recognized the tradition of Ramlila as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”
map

Related Topics

India set to sign S-400 missile deal during Vladimir Putin’s visit next week

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Amid US sanctions, India set to sign S-400 missile deal during Vladimir Putin’s visit next week

India will sign the S-400 missile system deal with Russia during the annual summit between PM Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin next week, hoping for a US sanction waiver, and to prevent Russia from directly selling weapon systems to Pakistan if India says no to the deal.

INDIA Updated: Sep 30, 2018 09:15 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India,Russia,Narendra Modi
Russian servicemen drive S-400 missile air defense systems during the Victory Day parade, at Red Square in Moscow.(Reuters/File Photo)

India will sign the S-400 missile system deal with Russia during the annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin next week, hoping that it has done enough business with the US to secure a waiver from sanctions, and to prevent Russia from directly selling weapon systems to Pakistan if India says no to the deal.

Hindustan Times had first reported in April that the deal would be signed during the October summit and, in May, that New Delhi would go ahead with the purchase despite US sanctions against countries buying arms from Russia.

South Block officials said that the deal is also in line with India’s efforts to maintain strategic autonomy and not be dependent on any one nation for its military hardware imports.

The South Block officials told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity that while the purchase of five units of the S-400 missile system was cleared this week by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the deal to build four stealth frigates in collaboration with Russia is stuck on technical aspects.

Even though India has apprised US of its intentions to purchase the S-400 system and has requested a presidential waiver of CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), the Modi government has had to tread a fine balance between a new partner and an old ally which could cut off hardware spares in case the missile system acquisition is either delayed or shelved.

More than 60% of Indian military equipment, including fighters, tanks and missiles, come from Russia and without the spares, the armed forces’ fighting capability will be significantly emasculated. For instance, the Indian Air Force Sukhois and Indian Army T series of tanks and Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier Vikramaditya are all from Russia.

The other reason why the Modi government is keen to push the deal through is because it is worried, the officials added, that an upset Russia may directly sell arms to Pakistan just as it is doing so to China, skewing the military balance in the region.

Diplomatically too, deferring or shelving the S-400 deal will sour the close relationship shared by Prime Minister Modi and President Putin. PM Modi has personally invested a lot in building close ties with Putin, the officials said, although this has not come at the cost of India’s relationship with the US.

According to the officials, while Russian hardware may not be top of the line as compared to the US platforms in terms of technology, it is much cheaper initially and comes without additional conditionals on the buyer. While the tussle between the US on one side and Russia/China on the other have made a fit case for Indian state-owned defense manufacturers to step up to manufacture indigenous weapons at a rapid rate, the fact is that most have been found wanting.

For instance, the officials pointed out, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) cannot keep up with the requirements of the Indian Air Force for light combat aircraft (LCA). Nevertheless, the government is clear that the only way out of this imbroglio is to manufacture indigenous systems and platforms rather than be dependent on anyone, the officials admitted.

Meanwhile, the Modi government has deepened its military ties with the Pentagon by placing over $5 billion worth of orders with US defense contractors for strike platforms. India has placed orders for one more C-17 heavy lift transport aircraft (it already has 10), four additional P8I Neptune anti-submarine warfare aircraft, six additional Apache attack helicopters for the army, 24 Sikorsky helicopters for the navy, and M-777 lightweight howitzers. US F-18 and F-35 fighters are also in contention for the additional fighter order the Indian Air Force is evaluating.

First Published: Sep 30, 2018 06:59 IST

India, China to explore ways to avoid Doklam-like standoffs

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India, China to explore ways to avoid Doklam-like standoffs

The Chinese defence minister met Modi during which the PM said both the countries are handling their differences with “sensitivity and maturity” by not allowing them to become disputes.

INDIA Updated: Aug 21, 2018 23:37 IST

India-China ties,Doklam,Nirmala Sitharaman
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with defence minister of China, General Wei Fenghe during a meeting in New Delhi on August 21.(PTI Photo)

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe will hold extensive talks on Thursday, focus of which will be to remove distrust and boost coordination between the armies of the two neighbours guarding their disputed border, official sources said.

Wei arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday on a four-day visit, nearly three-and-half months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that strategic communication between the two armies should be enhanced to avoid Doklam-like standoffs.

The Chinese defence minister met Modi during which the PM said both the countries are handling their differences with “sensitivity and maturity” by not allowing them to become disputes.

Sources said the primary objective of Wei’s visit is to deliberate with Indian defence establishment on implementation of decisions taken by Modi and Xi during the informal summit in Wuhan in April.

In the delegation level talks, the Indian side is likely to raise the issue of presence of sizeable number of Chinese troops in North Doklam.

Doklam, in the Sikkim sector, is a strategically important area which is claimed by Bhutan. India has been acting as security guarantor to the tiny country in the sensitive region.

The two sides are likely to deliberate on a mechanism under which troops from both sides will inform each other before carrying out any patrolling on the disputed areas along the nearly 4,000-km border.

The sources said both sides will also attempt to resolve differences in setting up of a hotline between the armies of the two countries.

After the Wuhan summit, both sides revived the long-pending proposal to set up the hotline so as to avoid flare-ups along the disputed border. But, the initiative hit roadblocks over differences on issues relating to protocol and technical aspect of the hotline.

The Indian Army has been maintaining that the hotline should be between its Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) and his equivalent official in Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). However, Beijing proposed that the deputy commander of its Chengdu-based Western Theatre Command would engage with the Indian DGMO.

The Indian Army is opposed to the Chinese proposal, insisting that an officer equivalent to Indian DGMO at PLA’s headquarters should be deputed for the communication through the hotline.

Currently, India and Pakistan have a hotline between their DGMOs.The hotline between India and China was first mooted by the two countries in 2013.

First Published: Aug 21, 2018 22:23 IST

India unlikely to accept foreign financial assistance for flood-relief operations in Kerala

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India unlikely to accept foreign financial assistance for flood-relief operations in Kerala

Government has taken a considered decision to rely solely on domestic efforts to tide over the situation, an official source said.

INDIA Updated: Aug 21, 2018 23:45 IST

Kerala floods,Flood-relief operations,Kerala natural disaster
Flood victims unload food and relief material from an Indian Air force helicopter at Nelliyampathy Village, in Kerala, on Tuesday. (REUTERS)

The government is unlikely to accept any foreign financial assistance for flood-relief operations in Kerala, official sources said.

They said government has taken a considered decision to rely solely on domestic efforts to tide over the situation.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has offered $100 million (around Rs 700 crore) as financial assistance for flood relief operation in Kerala.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, called up Prime Minister Modi and made the offer for assistance, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in Thiruvananthapuram.

Around three million Indians live and work in the UAE out of which 80% are from Kerala.

The government of Maldives has also decided to donate $50,000 (Rs 35 lakh) for flood affected people in Kerala.

It is understood that the UN is also offering some assistance for Kerala.

However, sources said India is unlikely to accept the assistance.

The floods in Kerala, worst in a century, have claimed lives of 231 people besides rendering over 14 lakh people homeless.

First Published: Aug 21, 2018 23:21 IST

India: Kerala floods: death toll rises above 324 as rescue effort intensifies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AGENCY)

 

Kerala floods: death toll rises above 324 as rescue effort intensifies

220,000 people left homeless in southern Indian state after unusually heavy rain

Play Video
1:35
 ‘Please pray for us’: Kerala experiences worst monsoon in nearly a century – video report

More than 324 people have died in the worst flooding in nearly a century in the south Indian state of Kerala.

Roads are damaged, mobile phone networks are down, an international airport has been closed and more than 220,000 people have been left homeless after unusually heavy rain in the past nine days.

Officials repeatedly revised the death toll upwards from 86 people on Friday morning to more than 300 by the evening as a massive rescue operation reached more flood-hit regions. “Around 100 people died in the last 36 hours alone,” a state official said.

Casualty numbers are expected to increase further, with thousands more people still stranded and less intense though still heavy rain forecast for at least the next 24 hours. Many have died from being buried in hundreds of landslides set off by the flooding.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2018/08/kerala_floods/giv-3902lxSDbOfGLgX2/

The Kerala chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said the state was experiencing an “extremely grave” crisis, with the highest flood warning in place in 12 of its 14 regions.

“We’re witnessing something that has never happened before in the history of Kerala,” he told reporters.

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, was on his way to Kerala on Friday evening “to take stock of the flood situation in the state”, he said.

Kerala, famed for its tea plantations, beaches and tranquil backwaters, is frequently saturated during the annual monsoon. But this year’s deluge has swamped at least 20,000 homes and forced people into more than 1,500 relief camps.

People are airlifted to safety in Kerala floods, India.
Pinterest
 People are airlifted to safety. Photograph: Sivaram V/Reuters

The toll in Kerala contributed to more than 900 deaths recorded by the Indian home ministry this monsoon season from landslides, flooding and rain.

Rescue workers and members of India’s armed forces have been deployed across the state with fleets of ships and aircraft brought in to save the thousands of people still stranded, many sheltering on their roofs signalling to helicopters for help.

Play Video
0:23
 Aerial view shows scale of monsoon flooding in Kerala, India – video

Officials estimated about 6,000 miles (10,000km) of roads had been submerged or buried by landslides and a major international airport in Cochin has been shut until 26 August. Communications networks were also faltering, officials said, making rescue efforts harder to coordinate.

Residents of the state used social media to post desperate appeals for help, sometimes including their GPS coordinates to help guide rescuers.

“My family and neighbouring families are in trouble with flood in Pandanad nakkada area in Alappuzha,” Ajo Varghese said in a viral Facebook post. “No water and food. Not able to communicate from afternoon. Mobile phones are not reachable and switch off. Please help … No rescue is available.”

Another man in the central town of Chengannur posted a video of himself neck-deep in water in his home. “It looks like water is rising to the second floor,” he says. “I hope you can see this. Please pray for us.”

Play Video
0:39
 Kerala floods: man, neck-deep in water, appeals for help from inside his house – video

The fate of the man was still unclear on Friday. The state finance minister, Thomas Isaac, tweeted in the afternoon that the last road to Chengannur had washed away before his eyes and the town was cut off.

The water has claimed parts of Cochin, the state’s commercial capital, and was still rising in some areas of the city on Friday, with residents urged to evacuate and guide ropes strung across roads inundated by fast-moving currents.

Soldiers evacuate local residents in Ernakulam.
Pinterest
 Soldiers evacuate local residents in Ernakulam. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

Meteorologists said Kerala had received an average 37.5% more rainfall than usual. The hardest-hit districts such as Idukki in the north received 83.5% excess rain. More than 80 dams across the state had opened their gates to try to ease the crisis, the chief minister said.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

The Guardian is editorially independent, meaning we set our own agenda. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our Editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important because it enables us to give a voice to the voiceless, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $1, you can support the Guardian – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

India, Seychelles agree to work on Assumption Island naval base project

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India, Seychelles agree to work on Assumption Island naval base project

India also announced a $100-million credit to Seychelles for augmenting its defence capabilities

INDIA Updated: Jun 25, 2018 22:17 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo with model of Dornier aircraft which will be gifted to Seychelles President Danny Antoine Rollen Faure after their meeting at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on Monday, June 25, 2018.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo with model of Dornier aircraft which will be gifted to Seychelles President Danny Antoine Rollen Faure after their meeting at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on Monday, June 25, 2018. (PTI Photo)

India and Seychelles said on Monday they would work together on developing a naval base on Assumption Island while keeping “each other’s interests” in mind, days after reports suggested the Indian Ocean archipelago had scrapped an agreement on the project.

Following talks in Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Seychelles President Danny Faure said both sides will continue working on the Assumption Island project.

Modi announced a $100-million line of credit that Seychelles can use to acquire Indian defence equipment to boost its maritime capacity. He also said India will provide a second Dornier aircraft for the Seychelles military.

The remarks by both leaders assume significance as Faure had said earlier this month his government had scrapped an agreement with India for setting up a naval base on Assumption. He had also said the project “will not move forward” and the issue wouldn’t be discussed with Modi during his visit.

Two days before the president began his visit, secretary of state for foreign affairs Barry Faure, who is Faure’s brother, told Reuters the government wouldn’t present the agreement on Assumption Island to the National Assembly for “approval because opposition members (who are the majority) have already said they will not ratify it”.

During a joint media interaction with Faure, Modi said: “In the context of the Assumption Island project, we are agreed on working together in each other’s interests.” He did not give details.

Faure added, “In the context of maritime security, Assumption Island was discussed. We are equally engaged and will continue to work together, bearing each other’s interests in mind.”

The first agreement on the project was signed during Modi’s visit to Seychelles in March 2015. Following public protests in Seychelles, the two sides signed a revised agreement in January to build military facilities on the remote island. Under the revised pact valid for 20 years, India was to build an airstrip and a jetty for its navy on Assumption.

Faure is expected to face an uphill task in getting the project ratified by Parliament that is dominated by the opposition, which has been opposing any Indian military presence on Assumption.

India has been working overtime to bolster its naval presence in regional waters to counter China, which last year inaugurated its first overseas military base in Djibouti, near one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Defence and security issues were a key part of the discussions between the two leaders and Modi said both countries have a “geo-strategic vision for peace, security and stability in the Indian Ocean” and have to contend with various traditional and non-traditional threats.

While working together to derive benefits from a “blue economy”, Modi said the two sides will also have to jointly confront challenges such as piracy, drugs, human trafficking and trans-national crimes.

He added that India will help Seychelles to build a new police headquarters, a new office for the attorney general and a new government house, and that Indian experts will be sent on deputation to the archipelago.

Faure described India as “one of our closest and reliable partners” and said Seychelles will benefit from the line of credit to aid the military and defence forces. He said he and Modi had “expressed our strong desire to elevate our bilateral relations to a more comprehensive partnership of a greater strategic importance”.

The two sides signed six agreements on issues such as infrastructure development in Seychelles, cyber-security, sharing of white shipping information that will enable them to exchange data on the identity and movement of non-military commercial vessels.