Chandigarh: At least 123 people, mostly women and children, were killed in a stampede at the Naina Devi temple in Himachal Pradesh’s Bilaspur district, police said.
The stampede began when iron railings around the temple gave way, leading to people trampling over falling women and children, eyewitnesses said. “As of now, we have 123 people dead, including more than 40 children,” Daljit Singh Manhas, a senior police officer said.
“The injured have been taken to two places and the toll could be more as we are awaiting news from other hospitals,” Manhas added. He said at least 45 women were among the dead.
Children were among the first to fall to the ground and were trampled by pilgrims running to safety, even as their parents tried to save them, police officers said.
The Himachal Pradesh government has announced a magesterial inquiry into the incident and compensation of Rs 1 lakh to next of the kin of the dead.
Thousands of worshippers had gathered at the temple to pray on the occasion of Navratra. More than 3,000 people were trying to get into the temple at the same time when part of the iron railing gave way, officials said.
Most of the worshippers were from the neighbouring state of Punjab, they said. Television pictures showed people being carried on stretchers to hospital, many writhing in pain.
“There were a lot of people inside and we were trying to fight for space when everyone started falling over,” one female worshipper, Bimala, told television reporters.
Stampedes at temples are not uncommon in India where thousands of people gather to pray during festivals.
In 2005, about 265 pilgrims were killed in a stampede near a temple in Maharashtra. (Reuters)
Areva NP plans to enter India’s N-power sector
Mumbai: After the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unanimously cleared the India-specific safeguards agreement, the world’s largest nuclear power firm, Areva NP of France, has said it is gearing up to enter India’s nuclear power sector and plans to float a separate subsidiary for it. Areva has two separate firms—one for nuclear power generation, Areva NP and another for transmission and distribution, Areva T&D. “We are world’s largest player in the nuclear power sector and to remain as number one firm, we cannot afford to neglect India,” Areva T&D’s global chief financial officer Karim Vissandjee said. (PTI)
FINANCE AND MARKETS
Reliance Infratel likely to defer IPO plans
New Delhi: Anil Ambani group firm Reliance Infratel is likely to defer its initial public offering (IPO) plans as the go-ahead by market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) for the IPO is set to expire soon, making it the third major IPO deferment after that of leading commodity exchange MCX and mutual fund house UTI AMC.
Sebi had issued observation on the IPO of Reliance Infratel on 12 May. As per the regulations, a company is required to close the IPO within 90 days of issuance of Sebi’s observation on draft red herring prospectus—which in this case ends on 11 August. Reliance Infratel officials declined to comment. (PTI)
Fresh cases of violence force curfew in Jammu
Jammu:Curfew was imposed in Udhampur and Rajouri districts of Jammu on Sunday with violence over the Amarnath land row spreading to new areas, leaving six injured even as authorities suspended mobile SMS service to check rumours.
The army conducted flag marches in the two trouble-torn districts where protesters indulged in arson and heavy stone-pelting, official sources said.
SMS services of mobile operators was suspended in view of fast spreading rumours, they said. Transmission of programmes by two local TV channels was also suspended.
The operation of the 300km Jammu-Srinagar highway was handed over to the army for unhindered supply of essential commodities to the Kashmir valley.
Protesters set four houses on fire in the RS Pura belt and stoned vehicles damaging four trucks in Hira Nagar area. (PTI)
Beijing meets WHO air quality standards
Beijing: Beijing’s air quality fell in line with recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the third straight day on Sunday, two weeks after the city pulled cars off the roads and closed factories to curb pollution before the Olympics. The air pollution index around the main Olympic venue was in Beijing’s “excellent” category in the 24 hours to noon. It’s the first time this year that the index stayed below WHO’s recommended maximum over 72 hours.
“The clean air was a combination of the measures the government took and help from the heavens,” Guo Hu, director of the Beijing Meteorological Observatory, said. “Strong winds and rains helped in the dispersal of polluting particles in the air.”
The government has spent $17 billion (Rs72,080 crore ) cleaning the air and on 20 July, restricted cars to driving on alternate days, closed construction sites and ordered some factories to cut production or shut down. (Bloomberg)
TDSAT issues notices to TataSky, Trai
New Delhi: Broadcast tribunal TDSAT has issued notices to direct-to-home (DTH) operator TataSky over a petition alleging “illegal and unauthorized” removal of prime channels by the operator from its basic package has forced its subscribers to pay more.
The tribunal also issued notice to sectoral regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India after the West Bengal-based Federation of Consumer Associations submitted that the regulator failed to discharge its duties by not enforcing conditions of providing à la carte on DTH operators. (PTI)
At least 20 killed in Lanka-Tiger clashes
Colombo: The Sri Lankan navy raided a Tamil Tiger rebel camp on a tiny island off the embattled northern coast, destroying one boat and killing four insurgents, while infantry clashes elsewhere in the north killed 14 rebels and two soldiers, the military said on Sunday. The latest military attacks came despite a cease-fire offered by rebels while leaders from eight South Asian countries spent the weekend in heavily guarded Colombo at the annual South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit at which they adopted an anti-terrorism agreement.
Tamil guerrillas declared an unilateral cease-fire from 26 July as a goodwill gesture for the summit. (AP)
Brazil seeks revival of global trade talks
Sao Paulo: Brazil wants to restart collapsed global trade negotiations and believes an agreement can be reached within two months, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said.
Talks on a new global trade pact collapsed in Geneva on Tuesday as the US and India refused to compromise over a proposal to help poor farmers deal with floods of imports.
“I think if we can resolve the problem between India and the US, I think we’ll have an accord. It can take a month, two months, but we need to sign an accord,” Lula told reporters in Sao Paulo. Lula spoke with the US President George W. Bush over telephone on Saturday and the two leaders expressed their disappointment over the collapsed talks and their commitment to concluding an accord. Lula said he would speak to Chinese President Hu Jintao during a planned visit to the Asian nation which hosts the Olympic Games starting Friday. He said he would also talk to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and possibly British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. (Reuters)