11 die after temple car hits high-voltage
electricity line in Tamil Nadu
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The charred chariot lying on the road in Kalimedu village.
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
APRIL 29, 2022
MCI (P) 034/10/2021
IN INDIA FOR
Modi holds first public event in
Kashmir since clampdown
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi
on Sunday promised peace and
development for Jammu and Kashmir
during his first public event in the
territory since its sweeping security
clampdown nearly three years ago.
Tight security was in place for his
appearance at Palli village in Jammu.
As he inaugurated new road and
hydropower projects, Mr Modi told the
gathered crowd of thousands that his
government had put the restive region
on the path to prosperity.
Finance minister says India needs
India wants to be strong friends with
the “liberal world” but it needs
Russia’s assistance to defend its
borders, Finance Minister Nirmala
Sitharaman told Bloomberg in an
interview in Washington.
India procures most of its military
hardware from Russia and in recent
weeks has rejected appeals from
Western nations to limit bilateral
relations with Moscow in response to
the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Covid vaccines for children get
emergency use authorisation
The Drugs Controller General of India
(DCGI) on Tuesday granted emergency
use authorisation to local Covid-19
vaccines Covaxin (for children
between ages six and 12) and
Corbevax (for those aged between five
The approval came amid an uptick
in Covid-19 cases in schools.
World’s largest vaccine maker
halts AstraZeneca jab production
The world’s largest vaccine maker, the
Serum Institute of India, has halted
production of the locally made version
of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine
due to falling demand.
The Serum Institute has produced
more than one billion doses of
Covishield – its version of the
AstraZeneca jab – and is a major
supplier to the Covax global
inoculation programme for poorer
There is now a global glut of
India again tells Tesla to make
electric cars locally
India has once again called upon
billionaire Elon Musk to manufacture
Tesla cars locally instead of selling
China-made electric vehicles (EVs) in
the world’s fourth-largest autos market
as demand for clean transport surges.
“If Elon Musk is ready to
manufacture Tesla in India, there is no
problem,” Road Transport Minister
Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday. But
manufacturing cars in China and
selling them in India is not a “good
Discussions between Tesla and the
Indian government have come to a
standstill over import taxes and a local
CBI arrests three in Hanskhali
gang-rape and murder case
The Central Bureau of Investigation
(CBI) on Sunday arrested three men
on charges of destroying evidence and
threatening the family of the
14-year-old girl who died on April 5
after an alleged gang rape at Hanskhali
in Bengal’s Nadia district.
Surajit Roy, Akash Garai and Dipto
Gayali, were brought before a court in
Ranaghat on Sunday and remanded in
Lawyers representing the central
probe agency told the court that after
the gang rape, the three threatened the
girl’s parents with dire consequences if
they took her to a doctor and
destroyed evidence after her body was
forcefully cremated at a village
crematorium on April 5.
Brothers die after accidental
contact with electric cables
Two farmers died in Uttar Pradesh’s
Pilibhit on Monday after an iron bar
they were using to open a canal inlet
came into contact with a high-voltage
Police said Mr Rajendra Prasad, 55,
and Mr Rameshwar Dayal, 50, were
electrocuted to death on the spot in
Lalor Gujranpur village.
Ambani scraps US$4.4 billion deal
that set up clash with Bezos
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani has
abandoned a plan to buy a teetering
Indian retailer amid protracted legal
challenges from Amazon.com,
potentially ending one episode of the
broader clash between the two titans
to control the India’s
In a filing on Saturday, Reliance
Industries said its proposal to acquire
certain assets of Mumbai-based Future
Group – which ran the nation’s biggest
retail grocery chain before the
pandemic struck – “cannot be
implemented” after its flagship firm
Future Retail failed to win the
approval of its secured creditors for the
Punjab man’s prized horse turns
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Rs22.65 lakh ($41,000) by traders who
sold him a horse that later turned out
to be dyed black.
Cloth merchant Ramesh Kumar
from Sunam town in Sangrur district
complained to the police that he was
duped by horse traders Jatinder Pal
Singh Sekhon, Lakhwinder Singh and
Lachra Khan who sold him a
“Marwari breed” stallion – a rare
breed of horse from the Marwar (or
Jodhpur) region of Rajasthan.
When he gave the horse a bath, the
dye disappeared and revealed its true
red coat. Mr Kumar had bought the
“black horse” to start a stud farm.
Police registered a case against the
traders, who allegedly cheated eight
other people in the same manner.
Jamtara becomes India’s first
district with library in every
Jamtara in Jharkhand has become the
first district in India where all villages
have community libraries.
The district has a population of
about 800,000 and 118 villages. The
libraries are open from 9am to 5pm
and their details, GPS location,
photographs and contact numbers are
provided on the district’s website.
Heatwave threatens residents and
crucial wheat harvest
A record-breaking heatwave in India
exposing hundreds of millions to
dangerous temperatures is damaging
the country’s wheat harvest, which
experts say could hit countries seeking
to make up imports of the food staple
from conflict-riven Ukraine.
With some states in India’s
breadbasket northern and central
regions seeing forecasts with highs of
48 deg C this week, observers fear a
range of lasting impacts, both local
and international, from the hot spell.
Air India proposes to buy over
Tata Group-owned Air India has
proposed to buy the entire equity
share capital of low-cost carrier
AirAsia India, in which Tata has a
majority stake, to merge into a single
airline, according to an application
with India’s competition commission.
Tata bought state-run carrier Air
India in a US$2.4 billion
equity-and-debt deal, regaining
ownership of what used to be India’s
flagship carrier after nearly 70 years.
Tata Sons has an 83.67% stake in
Fire risk warning as India swelters under extreme heat
India is getting too hot too
early, raising the risk of fires,
Prime Minister Narendra
Modi warned on Wednesday,
as a heatwave gripped much
of the country and the
Bhalswa landfill site in New
Delhi burnt (right).
In the capital, temperatures
have soared past 40 deg C for
several days and are forecast
to linger around 44 deg C
until Sunday, with peak
summer heat still to come
before cooling monsoon rains
arrive in June.
“We are seeing increasing
incidents of fires in various
places – in jungles, important
buildings and in hospitals – in
the past few days,” Mr Modi
said. He asked state
governnments to conduct
fire-safety audits for hospitals.
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V.K. Santosh Kumar
Channel Excellence Lead
Relatives gathering around the bodies of victims at a hospital.
It was all over in a matter of minutes.
Before locals could realise what was
happening, 11 persons were electro-
cuted to death on Wednesday near
Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu after a tem-
ple chariot came in contact with a
high-voltage electricity transmission
line during a procession.
The dead included three children,
while 17 people were injured.
Witnesses said the Appar temple car
was negotiating a turn in Kalimedu
village when it hit the high-voltage
The people standing on the chariot
were flung to the ground by the impact
and several died instantly.
“People were flung, they flew from
the impact. I could see a man lying on
the ground and another one near
him,” an eye-witness told The New
“The unfolding scene was frighten-
ing as we could not understand what
The chariot procession, decorated
with flowers and lights, is a century-
old practice. It is organised by the
villagers in memory of the Shaivite
“Eight of those who died were
related to me,” 26-year-old villager R.
Jeeva told the Hindustan Times.
“The entire Kalimedu village is in
shock. This annual procession has been
happening for 103 years, and there
had never been any accidents till now.
“The festive mood turned into grief.
The son of the person who decorated
the chariot was charred beyond recog-
According to Mr Jeeva, the proces-
sion usually starts after 11pm. The
chariot carrying the Appar deity goes
around the village, passing each of the
150 houses before it returns to the
The procession was almost ending
early Wednesday morning and the
chariot was making a turn at the end
of the road to return to the temple
when it toppled over a ditch and
touched the high-voltage wire.
The accident happened at 3am
when Mr Jeeva, who had broken a
coconut when the chariot passed his
house at 1am, had gone to sleep.
“Suddenly, I heard loud wailing and
when I went outside, my neighbours
were running and screaming,” he said.
“Four people who were sitting on
the chariot, including the priest, were
thrown off by the impact.
“Swaminathan, an old man who
had rushed to save them, touched one
of the victims and got electrocuted.
“A family has lost both the father
and son. Another young man is bat-
tling for his life in the hospital. Imag-
ine his mother’s plight.
“People here mostly work as either
farmers or coolies. They are all poor,
living hand to mouth. They had come
to pray to the deity.”
The locals believe the accident oc-
curred because the height of the main
road was raised by about 3.81cm two
years ago, reported The Hindu.
The procession did not take place
for two years during the pandemic and
the temple authorities had not taken
into account the raised height of the
The height of the chariot had also
gone up, with the extra decorations
and lighting forming a canopy atop the
A local man said the lights on the
top of the chariot and the collapsible
structure that supported it came in
contact with the overhead power line,
leading to electrocution.
“Obviously no one was sure from
where the electricity was originating
and how it was passing on. It was
mayhem,” a villager told The New
Also, in keeping with the custom,
water was poured on the road and the
wet surface contributed in conducting
“When the wooden chariot caught
fire and some people poured water to
douse it, it worsened the electrocution
and added to the chaos.”
The chariot was eventually gutted.
“It was all over in a matter of
minutes but it took a while for us to
understand that people were dead and
many were injured,” said a villager.
Mr Raja, a 30-year-old eye-witness,
said the residents had made repeated
requests to the Electricity Board to
move the high-voltage power line from
the main road to the agricultural fields.
But their requests were not heeded.
The usual process is to switch off
supply to the power cables during the
procession or to deploy volunteers
armed with wooden poles to lift the
cables and ensure that they do not
pose a threat to the devotees.
Both those options were not exer-
cised on Wednesday, the local media
Tamil Nadu Central Zone Inspector-
General of Police V. Balakrishnan said
that, while power supply to the low-
tension cable remained suspended dur-
ing the procession, the high-tension
cable remained live.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K.
Stalin rushed to the scene and visited
the injured at Thanjavur Medical Col-
lege. He later announced a monetary
compensation of Rs5 lakh to the fami-
lies of the dead and the setting up of a
special committee, headed by Revenue
Secretary Kumar Jayant, to investigate.
Indo-Asian News Service
“Eight of those who died were related to me. The entire
Kalimedu village is in shock. This annual procession has
been happening for 103 years, and there had never been
any accidents till now. The festive mood turned into grief.
The son of the person who decorated the chariot was
charred beyond recognition.”
– 26-year-old villager R. Jeeva
Lives snuffed out in minutes
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