Four passengers die in ‘unbearable’ heat on Indian train

Temperatures in an Indian desert city hit 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) for the second time in three days as a deadly heatwave maintained its grip on the country. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 June 2019
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Four passengers die in ‘unbearable’ heat on Indian train

  • The four died Monday while traveling from Agra, where the Taj Mahal is, to Coimbatore in the country’s south
  • A passenger who was a part of the group that boarded in Agra said the train was stiflingly hot

NEW DELHI: Four people died in ‘unbearable’ heat while traveling by train in northern India, which has been in the grip of a heatwave for two weeks, officials and passengers said Tuesday.
The four died Monday while traveling from Agra — the city of the Taj Mahal — to Coimbatore in the country’s south.
“Heat seems to be a factor,” Indian Railways spokesman Ajit Kumar Singh told AFP, “it is really unfortunate.”
“When the train was approaching Jhansi, we got a call from the on-board staff that one of the passengers is unconscious,” Singh said.
“We rushed medical staff to the station but they found that three of the passengers were already dead.”
A fourth person died later in hospital.
Temperatures have hovered around 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in Jhansi, in northern Uttar Pradesh state, in recent days.
Singh said the Kerala Express train had no technical problems, but the tourists were not in air-conditioned coaches.
A passenger who was a part of the group that boarded in Agra said the train was stiflingly hot.
“Shortly after we left Agra, the heat became unbearable and some people started complaining of breathing problems and uneasiness,” the passenger was quoted as saying by News18 television.
“Before we could get some help, they collapsed.”
One of the dead was 81 years old, the channel said.
Much of India has been sweltering in temperatures that have risen above 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in northern Rajasthan state. A number of deaths from heatstroke have been reported.
Temperatures touched 50.3 degrees Celsius in the Rajasthan town of Churu recently, just below India’s record of 51 degrees.


Sri Lanka abusing UN law to make arrests: rights group

Updated 6 min 49 sec ago
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Sri Lanka abusing UN law to make arrests: rights group

  • Police attempted to arrest a journalist for his writing on anti-Muslim riots and Buddhist extremists using the UN-backed law
  • Police have also drawn criticism over the detention of a Muslim woman during anti-Muslim riots last month

COLOMBO: Media activists on Monday accused Sri Lankan police of using a UN convention on hate speech to crack down on media freedom and the country’s Muslim minority.
The Free Media Movement rights group said the police Special Task Force (STF) attempted to arrest a respected journalist for his writing on anti-Muslim riots and Buddhist extremists using the UN-backed law.
The STF told a magistrate on Friday they were pursuing freelance writer Kusal Perera under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act.
“The Free Media Movement strongly condemns the attempts to pursue legal action under the provisions of the ICCPR Act and urges all responsible stakeholders to draw their attention to avoid using the law unfairly,” the group said.
Police have also drawn criticism over the detention of a Muslim woman during anti-Muslim riots last month. She was wearing a T-shirt with a print of a ship’s steering wheel which police mistook for the Dharma Chakra, a Buddhist symbol.
The woman was held in remand custody for three weeks before a senior police officer intervened to press for her release.
Award winning author and poet Shakthika Sathkumara has been held since April under the ICCPR act for his work hinting at homosexuality among the Buddhist clergy.
A senior police source told AFP separate investigations had been launched into the three cases.
“We feel that police exceeded their authority in using the ICCPR and we will take action against those responsible,” the officer said, asking not to be named.
The leftist People’s Liberation Front (JVP) party said police have arbitrarily detained several Muslim men and women since the Easter Sunday attacks that killed 258 people.
The suicide bombings on three churches and three hotels were blamed on local Muslim militants.
Anti-Muslim riots after the April 21 bombings left one Muslim man dead and hundreds of Muslim-owned businesses, homes, vehicles and mosques wrecked.
Sri Lankan authorities are very sensitive to perceived insults to Buddhism, the majority religion.
However Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court in 2017 awarded 900,000 rupees ($5,000) in damages to a woman who police detained for four days for having a Buddha tattooed on her arm.