Top news of the day: Railway Board says ‘signalling interference’ caused Odisha train accident; three-member panel to probe Manipur ethnic violence, and more

The major news headlines of the day and more.

June 04, 2023 07:34 pm | Updated 07:36 pm IST

Restoration work underway at the site of Friday’s triple train accident near Bahanaga Bazar railway station, in Balasore, Odisha, on June 4, 2023.

Restoration work underway at the site of Friday’s triple train accident near Bahanaga Bazar railway station, in Balasore, Odisha, on June 4, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Odisha rail accident | Error in signalling system led to crash, train was not over-speeding, says Railway Board

The Railways on June 4 said the Coromandel Express was “not over-speeding” and received the green signal to enter a loop line on which a goods train was stationary, virtually clearing its driver of any role behind the accident. Two key officials of the Railway Board, Principal Executive Director of Signalling Sandeep Mathur and Member of Operation and Business Development Jaya Varma Sinha, explained how the accident might have occurred. Ms. Sinha said the direction, route and signal were set for the Coromandel Express. Meanwhile, the Odisha government climbed down from the previously reported death-toll of 288 to 275, stating that few bodies were counted twice. Earlier in the day, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the commissioner of railway safety has investigated the matter and identified the cause of the incident and the people responsible for it.

Three-member Commission of Inquiry to probe ethnic violence in Manipur

The Central government on June 4 appointed a three-member Commission of Inquiry headed by Ajai Lamba, former Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court, to probe the ethnic violence in Manipur, that has claimed 98 lives so far and displaced over 35,000 people. A notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday said that the “Commission shall submit its report to the Central Government as soon as possible but not later than six months from the date of its first sitting”. Its headquarters will be in Imphal.

G20: India proposes medical countermeasure coordination platform to set standards for public good

India, under its G20 presidency, has proposed a medical countermeasure coordination platform that will help set norms and standards for the common public good, equity and a voice for the global south to effectively deal with challenges of any Covid-like pandemic. The mechanism will focus on strengthening the global application of digital health, Dr Lakshmi Narasimhan Balaji, Senior Adviser Health, UNICEF, said on June 4. He is attending the third G20 Health Working Group meeting being held here from June 4 to 6.

Mehbooba Mufti issued passport after three years

PDP president and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been issued a passport with 10-year validity, sources in Srinagar said on June 4. After a prolonged legal battle in the Delhi High Court, the passport was delivered to Ms. Mehbooba. Her travel document expired in 2019 and since then she had been seeking its renewal. It came barely two days ahead of a hearing in Jammu and Kashmir High Court where Ms. Mehbooba’s daughter Iltija’s plea challenging the decision of the passport office to give her a country-specific passport is to come up.

After text messages on phone, extreme weather alerts on TV, radio soon

Soon, television screens will flash warning messages about the impending extreme weather events in the country and songs on radio will be cut short to make way for the urgent alerts. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has recently started sending text messages on mobile phones to disseminate critical information about heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and heat wave, among others. It now plans to expand the warning system to television, radio and other mediums to ensure citizens are promptly informed and better prepared for severe weather, according to officials.

People of India are going to defeat BJP: Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on June 3 said that after the Karnataka election victory, his party will “decimate” the BJP in Telangana and other State polls, emphasising that it is not just the Congress party but the people of India who are going to defeat its hate-filled ideology. Mr. Gandhi arrived in New York after visiting Washington and San Francisco and will address a community rally at the Javits Centre in Manhattan on June 4. “We have shown in Karnataka that we can decimate the BJP…We did not defeat them, we decimated them. We smashed them in Karnataka,” Mr. Gandhi said at a dinner event organised in New York on June 3 by the Indian Overseas Congress-USA.

Imran Khan likely to be tried in military court, says Pakistan’s defence minister

Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has said the chances were that former prime minister Imran Khan could be tried in a military court for his alleged involvement in the May 9 incidents in which military and state installations were attacked by his party workers, according to a media report on June 4. Mr. Khan, 70, could stand trial in a military court if evidence of his involvement in the May 9 violence surfaced in the coming days, Mr. Asif was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune newspaper. He also confirmed that no case had been registered against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief so far in connection with the May 9 attacks.

China warns ‘NATO-like’ alliances could lead to conflict in Asia-Pacific

China’s Defence Minister warned June 4 against establishing NATO-like military alliances in the Asia-Pacific, saying they would plunge the region into a “whirlpool” of conflict. Li Shangfu’s comments came a day after U.S. and Chinese military vessels sailed close to each other in the flashpoint Taiwan Strait, an incident that provoked anger from both sides. “Attempts to push for NATO-like [alliances] in the Asia-Pacific is a way of kidnapping regional countries and exaggerating conflicts and confrontations,” Mr. Li told a security conference in Singapore also attended by U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Scores detained in Hong Kong on Tiananmen crackdown anniversary

Hong Kong police searched and detained scores of people on June 4, four arrested for “seditious” intent, as authorities tightened security for the 34th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Restrictions in Hong Kong have stifled what were once the biggest vigils marking the bloody crackdown by Chinese troops on pro-democracy demonstrators, leaving cities like Taipei, London, New York and Berlin to keep alive the memory on the June 4 anniversary.

Ukrainian president says at least 500 children killed by war

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on June 4 that Russia’s war, now in its 16th month, has killed at least 500 Ukrainian children. Mr. Zelensky provided the number, hours after rescue workers found the body of a 2-year-old girl who died in one of the latest Russian strikes. The president said in a statement that “Russian weapons and hatred, which continue to take and destroy the lives of Ukrainian children every day,” killed the hundreds who had perished since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine started on Feb. 24, 2022.

Sudan clashes | Fighting escalates in Khartoum after ceasefire expires

Residents of Sudan’s capital Khartoum reported a sharp escalation of clashes in several areas of the capital on June 4 after the expiry of a ceasefire deal between rival military factions brokered by Saudi Arabia and the United States. Witnesses also said a military plane had crashed in Omdurman, one of three cities around the confluence of the Nile that make up the greater capital region.

India’s import of Russian oil scales new high in May

India’s import of cheap Russian oil scaled another record in May, 2023 and is now more than the combined oil bought from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE and the U.S., industry data showed. India took 1.96 million barrels a day from Russia in May 2023, 15% more than the previous high in April, 2023, according to data from energy cargo tracker Vortexa. Russia now makes up for nearly 42% of all crude oil India imported in May, 2023. This is the highest share for an individual country in recent years.

World Test Championship final | Australia pacer Josh Hazlewood ruled out, Neser gets call-up

Australia suffered a big setback after senior fast bowler Josh Hazlewood was ruled out of the upcoming World Test Championship final against India, having failed to recover from a side strain picked up during his IPL stint in India. The WTC final is scheduled at the Oval from June 7-11. Australia included fast bowler Michael Neser in the squad with Hazlewood reportedly being given furthermore time to recover and prepare for the Ashes in England.

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