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US asks India, Pakistan to cool down after Myanmar strike

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Washington: While declining comment on India’s strike on militants in Myanmar, the US has asked India and Pakistan to take steps to reduce tensions and move toward resuming dialogue.

“I don’t have a comment on that specific operation,” US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters on Friday when asked if the US supported or was concerned over India’s cross border strike in Myanmar, a move that has raised hackles in Pakistan.

But “we encourage India and Pakistan to take steps to reduce tensions and to move towards resuming talks,” he said.

“The relationship between India and Pakistan is critical to advancing peace and stability in South Asia, so we welcome any steps India and Pakistan can take to reduce tensions and move toward resuming dialogue,” Rathke said.

“We encourage India and Pakistan to take those kinds of steps, and we believe that India and Pakistan each have a mutual interest in addressing the threat posed by violent extremism and terrorism,” he said.

Asked if the US had reached out officially to India or Pakistan to defuse tensions over the Myanmar strike, Rathke said: “Well, we’ve encouraged a reduction of tensions on both sides at high levels, so that’s something we’ve mentioned.”

The spokesman also expressed concern over Pakistan’s crackdown on Save the Children organisation.

Rathke could not say whether the issue had been discussed in Islamabad, “but it’s certainly a matter of concern to us.”

“Save the Children is an international nongovernment organization. They do important work,” he said.

Rathke also did not have an update on expression of similar concern over India blacklisting some NGOs a few weeks ago.

“We expressed our concerns and we’ve raised those with the Indian authorities. I don’t have an update to offer here.”

Earlier in a press statement, Department Spokesperson John Kirby said the US was “concerned about Pakistan’s crackdown on international charitable organizations and other NGOs.”

(IANS)

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The Families Of Victims In Railway Accident Incident In India Stage Protests

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the accident a "heart-wrenching tragedy" and asked officials to provide immediate assistance to the injured.

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People gather at the site of an accident after a train traveling at high speed ploughed through a crowd of people on rail tracks near Amritsar, India. VOA

Angry relatives of the scores of people who were killed in India when they were run over by a speeding train staged protests Saturday while one of the country’s railway officials maintains the railway is not responsible for the tragic accident.

The train was traveling at high speed when it ploughed through a crowd Friday at a religious festival on the outskirts of the northern city of Amritsar, killing 59 people, Punjab state’s Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, told reporters Saturday. Singh said 57 others were injured and an official investigation would be carried out over the next four weeks.

The Jalandhar-Amritsar express was traveling at 90 kilometers per hour when it hit the crowd, which had gathered on the tracks to watch a fireworks display marking the Hindu festival of Dussehra.

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The Hindu festival of Dussehra.

Hundreds of relatives of the victims engaged in sporadic protests on and near the tracks Saturday, calling for action against local authorities and the train operator, who was questioned Saturday by police.

Authorities moved the protestors off the tracks and brought in reinforcements to control the crowd.

‘No lapse on our part’

The railway accident was India’s worst in years, but the junior minister who manages Indian Railways, the world’s fourth largest rail system, refused to accept responsibility.

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A man mourns next to the burning pyre of a family member who died after a train traveling at high speed ploughed through a crowd of people, at a cremation site in Amritsar, India. VOA

“Railways cannot be blamed. Railways were not informed about the ceremony,” Manoj Sinha told reporters Saturday. Speaking to reporters, Sinha ruled out any punitive action against his staff, saying, “There was no lapse on our part and no action against the driver will be initiated.”

Local government officials said the festival takes place every year on the outskirts of Amritsar and that railroad authorities are alerted to run the trains at slow speeds.

Witnesses said the victims did not realize the train was coming because of the sound of the fireworks and celebrations.

‘Heart-wrenching’

Some witnesses said the train did not sound its whistle as it sped past the festival site.

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With India, Indian Railway is also digitizing, Pixels

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the accident a “heart-wrenching tragedy” and asked officials to provide immediate assistance to the injured.

Also Read: India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India’s railway network remains the main form of travel in the vast country, where railway accidents are relatively common.

Millions of Hindus celebrate the Dussehra festival by burning giant effigies of the demon Ravana, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. (VOA)