Bollywood Star Shah Rukh Khan’s Son, Aryan Granted Bail In Drugs Case

Members of the media wait for the release of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan, who is arrested in connection to a drug case, after a bail hearing outside Arthur Road Jail for Coverage of in Mumbai on October 28, 2021. PHOTO: SUJIT JAISWAL / AFP

 

The son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was granted bail Thursday three weeks after being arrested during a cruise ship drugs bust in a case that has gripped India.

Aryan Khan, 23, the eldest son of the actor dubbed the “King of Bollywood”, was detained in early October alongside 19 others after the Narcotics Control Bureau raided a ship set to sail from Mumbai to Goa.

He was given bail Thursday along with two others by the High Court of Bombay on their fourth attempt.

He would likely be released on Friday or Saturday, his lawyer and India’s former attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi told reporters.

The case has grabbed headlines across India, dominating front pages and receiving non-stop coverage on news channels.

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Some have claimed that Khan, a Muslim, is a victim of religious persecution in a country governed by a Hindu-nationalist party.

Social media has been flooded with messages of support for the family, with many calling the arrest a witch-hunt.

Fans gathered outside the elder Khan’s seaside mansion in Mumbai to show solidarity and the family have also received support from several Bollywood A-listers.

The officer investigating the case, Sameer Wankhede, is facing an internal probe within the narcotics bureau and another by Mumbai police over allegations of bribery and extortion related to the case.

Rohatgi told the court Aryan Khan should be granted bail as no drugs were found in his possession and prosecutors had no proof of any consumption.

The narcotics agency opposed bail, arguing that the investigation revealed an international drug connection and had found drug-related WhatsApp chats on his phone.

The high-profile case comes a year after the suicide of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the arrest of his ex-girlfriend, actress Rhea Chakraborty, for allegedly buying him drugs.

Her arrest sparked a wider probe into drug use in Bollywood, with superstar Deepika Padukone and others hauled in for questioning.

Shah Rukh Khan, whose career spans three decades, is arguably Hindi cinema’s biggest and most recognisable star of the modern age.

AFP

At Least 23 Killed In Landslide, Wall Collapse In India Monsoon Rains

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and other rescue team personnel inspect the site of the landslide in a slum area where 18 people were killed after several homes were crushed by a collapsed wall and a landslide triggered by heavy monsoon rains in Mumbai on July 18, 2021. Sujit Jaiswal / AFP
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and other rescue team personnel inspect the site of the landslide in a slum area where 18 people were killed after several homes were crushed by a collapsed wall and a landslide triggered by heavy monsoon rains in Mumbai on July 18, 2021.
Sujit Jaiswal / AFP

At least 23 people were killed after several homes were crushed by a collapsed wall and a landslide triggered by heavy monsoon rains in India’s financial capital Mumbai, authorities said Sunday.

A falling tree demolished a wall in the eastern suburb of Chembur during Sunday’s early hours, burying nearby residents, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said.

Seventeen bodies had been recovered from the rubble, it added. Rescuers were searching the scene for more survivors and bodies.

And in the suburb of Vikhroli in the city’s northeast, six people were killed after a landslide hit five homes early Sunday, the NDRF added.

Building collapses are common during India’s June-September monsoon season, with old and rickety structures buckling under days of non-stop rain.

Mumbai, home to 20 million people, has been hit by downpours since Saturday, with local transport services affected.

The Indian Meteorological Department said early Sunday that “moderate to heavy rain or thundershowers” were forecast for the next two days.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences and added that there would be financial compensation for victims’ families.

Last month, 12 people were killed when a building collapsed in a Mumbai slum.

In September, 39 people died when a three-storey apartment block collapsed in Bhiwandi near Mumbai.

AFP

Death Toll In India Building Collapse Jumps To 39

Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed three-storey residential building in Bhiwandi on September 21, 2020.  AFP

 

The death toll from an apartment block collapse in western India jumped to 39 Wednesday, officials said, as hopes of finding anyone else alive dimmed.

Emergency workers from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have so far pulled 20 survivors from the rubble of the three-storey building in Bhiwandi, near Mumbai.

A senior NDRF official told AFP that recovery teams, aided by sniffer dogs, retrieved 39 bodies buried under brick and concrete after the block came crashing down before dawn on Monday.

“Five people are still missing so… operations are ongoing,” NDRF Commandant Anupam Srivastava said.

india-building-collapse
Rescue workers carry a survivor from the rubble of a collapsed three-storey residential building in Bhiwandi on September 21, 2020.  AFP

 

An official with the Thane city authority, which oversees Bhiwandi, said the dead included at least eight children.

The cause of the incident was not immediately clear, but building collapses are common during India’s June-September monsoon season, with old and rickety structures buckling under days of non-stop rain.

Heavy overnight downpours in the Mumbai region forced railway authorities to reschedule or cancel trains in the city Wednesday due to waterlogging on tracks.

Mumbai city officials also declared Wednesday a holiday, advising residents to stay indoors after the rain caused flooding and disrupted traffic in some areas of the financial capital.

AFP

Bollywood Superstar Aishwarya Rai Tests Positive For COVID-19

 

 

Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai has tested positive for the coronavirus, a Mumbai city authority official told AFP Sunday, just a day after her actor father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan said he was in hospital with the infectious disease.

Her eight-year-old daughter, Aaradhya, was also COVID-19 positive, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation official, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

Bachchan’s actor son Abhishek, Rai’s husband, said he too was positive but that both their cases were mild.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan took the Miss World crown in 1994 and made her acting debut in the late 1990s.

She went on to become one of the most famous Bollywood faces abroad as well as in India and has been a regular on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. She married Abhishek Bachchan in 2007.

The elder Bachchan, 77 — idolised in India and affectionately known as “Big B” — has a more than four-decade-long career in the film industry.

He was voted “actor of the millennium” in a BBC online poll in 1999 and became the first Indian actor to gain a lookalike at London’s Madame Tussauds waxworks museum.

India on Sunday reported its highest single-day virus tally of more than 28,600 cases, for a nationwide total of just under 850,000 infections.

The nation of 1.3 billion people is the third-worst infected in the world after the United States and Brazil.

AFP

Mumbai Opens New Hospitals As India COVID-19 Deaths Top 20,000

A man sits next to beds at a newly built hospital to treat Covid-19 coronavirus patients at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, in Mumbai on July 7, 2020. - India on July 6 became the country with the third-highest coronavirus caseload in the world, as a group of scientists said there was now overwhelming evidence that the disease can be airborne -- and for far longer than originally thought. India's major cities including New Delhi and Mumbai are suffering the most, and critics say not enough tests are being conducted -- meaning that many COVID-19 infections are likely to go undiagnosed. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP)
A man sits next to beds at a newly built hospital to treat Covid-19 coronavirus patients at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, in Mumbai on July 7, 2020. – India on July 6 became the country with the third-highest coronavirus caseload in the world, as a group of scientists said there was now overwhelming evidence that the disease can be airborne — and for far longer than originally thought. Punit PARANJPE / AFP.

 

India’s financial capital Mumbai opened four new coronavirus field hospitals on Tuesday — including one at a horseracing track — as the nationwide death toll jumped past 20,000.

Hospitals in densely populated cities such as Mumbai and Delhi are struggling to cope with the epidemic, and the country now has around 720,000 infections — the world’s third-highest.

The Mumbai region, which accounts for about a quarter of India’s 20,100 deaths, has suffered a new surge in infections, forcing authorities to build makeshift hospitals and quarantine facilities.

Schools, hotels, a planetarium and a stadium used to host US NBA games last year have all been repurposed, and on Tuesday four new field hospitals — including 700 beds inside the Mahalaxmi horseracing venue — were opened.

The new facilities will together provide an extra 3,500 beds in the city of 20 million, where hospitals have been overwhelmed with hundreds of patients each day.

Health workers have complained about severe staff shortages, with some senior doctors and nurses avoiding frontlines because of their vulnerability to the virus due to age or conditions such as diabetes.

“Required medical help will be available at these four new treatment centres,” said a spokesman for the government of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital.

As the death toll climbs, critics say the country is not testing enough — leaving many infections undiagnosed.

India’s caseload is predicted to pass one million this month and not peak for several weeks.

AFP

Bollywood Actor Sushant Singh Rajput Dies At 34

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 10, 2019 Indian Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput attends the book launch of ‘Boundless’ in Mumbai. – A young Bollywood heartthrob lauded for his portrayal of cricket star M.S. Dhoni on the silver screen has taken his own life, Mumbai police said on June 14, the latest in a string of deaths to rock India’s entertainment industry. “Police found Sushant Singh Rajput’s body at his residence Sunday afternoon,” Mumbai police spokesman Pranay Ashok told AFP, confirming that the 34-year-old had taken his own life. Rajput, renowned for his numerous hits on the big and small screens, reportedly battled depression. Sujit Jaiswal / AFP.

 

A young Bollywood heartthrob lauded for his portrayal of cricket star M.S. Dhoni on the silver screen has died, Mumbai police said Sunday.

“Police found Sushant Singh Rajput’s body at his residence Sunday afternoon,” Mumbai police spokesman Pranaya Ashok told AFP, confirming that the 34-year-old had taken his own life.

Rajput, renowned for his numerous hits on the big and small screens, reportedly battled depression.

He passed away just a few days after the shock death of his former manager Disha Salian.

“It pains us to share that Sushant Singh Rajput is no longer with us,” Rajput’s management team said in a statement.

“We request his fans to keep him in their thoughts and celebrate his life, and his work like they have done so far.”

“I will miss him so much,” tweeted Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan alongside a selfie with Rajput. “His energy, enthusiasm and his full happy smile.”

Fellow star Akshay Kumar wrote on Twitter that he was “shocked and speechless”.

“Such a talented actor… may God give strength to his family.”

Bollywood is still struggling to come to terms with the loss of two luminaries, Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor, in April.

In early June, Wajid Khan, one of the top composers of Bollywood dance songs, died at the age of 42 after contracting coronavirus, according to media reports.

Celebrated filmmaker Basu Chatterjee passed away just a week ago. He was 90.

Born in Patna in the eastern state of Bihar, Rajput quit his studies in engineering to pursue a career in acting and dance.

He got his big break in Bollywood in 2013 with “Kai Po Che”, a film about cricket, love and politics that won acclaim at the Berlin film festival.

His most recent films were comedy-drama “Chhichhore” and action movie “Drive”, both released last year.

Rajput in 2016 told AFP of the emotional rollercoaster he went through filming the biopic of Indian cricket hero Dhoni, “M S Dhoni: The Untold Story”, which included retelling the death of the ex-skipper’s former girlfriend.

“It was very difficult because, after we did the preparation, in my head I was him and everything that was happening was actually affecting me,” he said.

AFP

Bollywood Mourns Another Star As Rishi Kapoor Dies At 67

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 13, 2016 Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor pays his respects at the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar. (Photo by NARINDER NANU / AFP)

 

Bollywood mourned a second loss in as many days as celebrated actor Rishi Kapoor, whose career spanned half a century, died Thursday aged 67 after a prolonged struggle with cancer.

His death came as a severe blow to the Hindi movie industry and film lovers, who were already reeling from the passing Wednesday of Irrfan Khan, one of the country’s most feted actors, aged 53.

“Our dear Rishi Kapoor passed away peacefully… today after a two-year battle with leukemia,” his family said in a statement.

Fellow actor Amitabh Bachchan was among the first to mourn his death, tweeting: “I am destroyed”.

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Born September 4, 1952, into the prolific Kapoor dynasty — which has produced four generations of actors including his son, Ranbir — he made his debut in the 1970’s epic “Mera Naam Joker” (“My Name is Joker”).

He received India’s National Award for best child actor for his performance in the film, which his father Raj produced, directed and starred in.

But it was his later persona as a romantic lead that won him legions of fans, who flocked to cinemas to see him sing, dance and charm his way into their hearts in films such as the 1973 superhit “Bobby”, and the 1977 comedy “Amar Akbar Anthony”.

As Kapoor grew older, the romantic roles ceased, allowing him the opportunity to display greater versatility.

He terrified audiences as a human trafficker in 2012’s “Agneepath” (“Path of Fire”) and won applause for his portrayal of a cantankerous porn-watching grandfather in 2016’s “Kapoor & Sons”.

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2018 he sought treatment in New York, but was looking to resume work shortly with plans to film a remake of the 2015 Hollywood film “The Intern”.

He was forced to return to hospital this month, where, his family said, “the doctors and medical staff… said he kept them entertained to the last”.

Netflix, Apple Cross Swords In Indian Streaming Market

 

 

Competition in India’s booming streaming market is heating up as Netflix joins forces with a director of Bollywood feel-good blockbusters and Apple launches its TV platform for 99 rupees ($1.39) a month.

Netflix announced late Wednesday a long-term partnership with Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment to make a range of new fiction and non-fiction series and films for the platform.

Johar has directed eight films including “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” with Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, and “Raazi”, nominated for best picture at next week’s Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) Awards, dubbed the Bollywood Oscars.

“It’s going to be P.H.A.T — pretty hot and tempting,” said Johar, whose Dharma Entertainment is one of India’s biggest production firms and which already teamed up with Netflix for the successful “Lust Stories” anthology.

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Netflix launched in India in 2016 and two of its Indian-made series have won critical acclaim — “Sacred Games” starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and “Leila” with Huma Qureishi.

But Netflix faces stiff competition in Asia’s third-largest economy as Amazon’s Prime Video, Disney’s Hotstar, Alt Balaji and other local platforms jostle for digital subscriptions and eyeballs.

US technology giant Apple on Wednesday announced the launch of its streaming platform Apple TV+ in India, hoping to upend competition.

Netflix is available in India from 199 rupees a month and as millions of first-time users access internet in Asia’s third-largest economy, analysts expect competition to intensify.

India’s video-streaming industry is expected to grow at nearly 22 percent per annum to 119 billion rupees ($1.7 billion) by 2023 according to consultancy PwC, Bloomberg News reported.

Netflix chief Reed Hastings has said the company’s goal is 100 million customers in India — almost 25 times its estimated subscriber base there as of this year, Bloomberg said.

14 Confirmed Dead In Mumbai Building Collapse As Rescue Operation Ends

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 16, 2019, Indian National Disaster Response Force and Indian fire brigade personnel rescue a survivor from after a building collapsed in Mumbai. Punit PARANJPE / AFP

 

Rescuers Wednesday called off the search for survivors after a building collapsed during heavy monsoon rains in India’s financial capital Mumbai, killing 14 people.

Heavy monsoon rains on Tuesday trapped more than 40 people after the building crumbled in southern Mumbai’s congested Dongri area, with rescuers and volunteers struggling to conduct their search among the narrow lanes.

Disaster management spokesman Tanaji Kamble told AFP that 14 people, including four women and three children, lost their lives in the collapse.

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India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said a woman was pulled alive from the rubble earlier Wednesday, although her young children died.

“We rescued 28-year-old Alima Indrasi with her two children early on Wednesday morning,” India’s National Disaster Response Force spokesman Sachidanand Gawde told AFP.

“She has sustained injuries but is undergoing treatment and her children did not survive.”

The plight of the residents in the 100-year-old building, which was due to be redeveloped, has highlighted the perilous state of Mumbai’s ageing infrastructure.

The tragedy is the second collapse to hit Mumbai in two weeks and the third in Maharashtra state.

A wall collapsed in the city killing 30 people in July, and 15 died in the nearby city of Pune when another wall gave way the previous month.

Building collapses in Mumbai, home to around 20 million people, are common during the monsoon season with rickety structures buckling under the weight of continuous rain.

Across South Asia, torrential downpours have swept away homes, triggered landslides and claimed at least 200 lives.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday tweeted his condolences to the victims’ families, describing the incident as “anguishing”.

vm-abh/grk/gle

© Agence France-Presse

 

 

Two Dead, Over 40 Trapped In Mumbai Building Collapse

Indian National Disaster Response Force and Indian fire brigade personnel rescue a survivor after a building collapsed in Mumbai on July 16, 2019/AFP

 

Two people were killed and more than 40 trapped under the rubble after a building collapsed as heavy monsoon rains lashed India’s financial capital Mumbai on Tuesday, officials said, the second such tragedy in two weeks.

Torrential downpours have swept away homes, triggered landslides and claimed at least 180 lives across South Asia.

“Two people have been declared dead and over 40 are trapped under the debris,” disaster management spokesman Tanaji Kamble told AFP of the building collapse in southern Mumbai’s congested Dongri area.

Kamble said five others, including two children, were rescued and taken to hospital.

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Earlier this month, a wall collapsed in the city, killing 29 people.

Two teams from India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as well as local volunteers, fire department and police officials were scouring the rubble for survivors.

“The building collapse sounded like an earthquake and we rushed to the spot to check the loud noise,” a local resident told Indian news channel NDTV.

Another resident said the building was more than a century old and had 10 families living inside despite its dilapidated condition.

Building collapses in Mumbai, home to 20 million people, are common during the monsoon season because of rickety structures that buckle under the weight of continuous rain.

India Recovers 13 Bodies After Monsoon Dam Breach

 

Thirteen bodies have been recovered in western India after the heaviest monsoon rains in a decade breached a dam and caused mayhem in Mumbai, authorities said Thursday.

Eleven people were still missing after the dam in Ratnagiri, around 275 kilometres (170 miles) south of Mumbai, burst on Wednesday and swamped seven local villages, rescuers said.

“We have commenced rescue operations for the second day and recovered 13 dead bodies. We are still trying to find remaining victims,” National Disaster Response Force spokesman Alok Awasthy told AFP.

In Mumbai, the death toll from a wall collapse in a slum on Tuesday rose to 26 as the city braced for 200 millimetres (eight inches) of fresh rain forecast in the coming days.

READ ALSO: Collapsed Wall Kills 22 In Mumbai Monsoon Chaos

Six labourers also died in the nearby city of Pune when another wall collapsed on Tuesday.

Building collapses and dam breaches are common during the monsoon in India due to dilapidated structures that buckle under the weight of continuous rain.

Torrential downpours in Mumbai — a city of 20 million — earlier this week caused traffic misery as floods swamped roads and railways and forced the closure of the airport’s main runway, which remained off limits on Thursday.

India’s second-busiest airport cancelled 75 flights on Wednesday and more than 100 on Tuesday, causing chaos for passengers.

AFP

Collapsed Wall Kills 22 In Mumbai Monsoon Chaos

 

A wall collapsed and killed at least 22 people in Mumbai on Tuesday as the heaviest monsoon rains in a decade brought chaos to India’s financial capital and surrounding areas.

Scores more were injured when the structure came down at nighttime in a slum, said Tanaji Kamble, a disaster management spokesman for Mumbai’s local authority.

By late Tuesday one more person had succumbed to injuries, increasing the previous death toll of 21, the Press Trust of India reported.

The tragedy came during heavy rains which lashed the teeming coastal city of 20 million residents for a second consecutive day, bringing it to a virtual standstill.

Authorities declared Tuesday a public holiday and advised all residents to stay indoors. Schools and colleges were closed while more than 100 flights were either cancelled or diverted from Mumbai airport.

The airport’s main runway was shut after a SpiceJet plane carrying 167 passengers and crew overshot it shortly before midnight Monday.

“Currently secondary runway is in use, our team is trying their best to bring the main runway back in operation and this may take up to 48 hrs,” the airport tweeted.

READ ALSO: Eight Dead, 15 Missing After Indian Dam Breach

According to Skymet Weather, a private weather-tracking agency, large swathes of Mumbai received around 350 millimetres (13 inches) of rain overnight into Tuesday morning, the most in a decade.

The deluge left low-lying areas submerged.

“Everything around us is flooded. It’s scary and the problem persists every year despite government promises,” Vishal Agawane, a 32-year-old resident of the Dharavi slum, told AFP.

Around 1,000 people living close to the city’s Mithi river were evacuated to higher ground as it threatened to burst its banks, said Kamble, the disaster management spokesman.

Waterlogged tracks disrupted train services on Mumbai’s colonial-era rail network, a lifeline for the city’s population, while motorists were seen pushing cars through flooded streets.

Rescuers sifted through the debris of the collapsed wall in Mumbai’s north, hoping to find more survivors.

‘Begging for water’

The dead included a 10-year-old girl, who was trapped alive under the debris for hours before rescuers pulled out her body in a 12-hour unsuccessful operation.

A local rescue volunteer earlier in the day told the NDTV channel that they heard the girl crying in pain and begging for water.

Building collapses are common during the monsoon, when dilapidated structures buckle under the weight of continuous rain.

Three people, including a toddler, were also killed Tuesday in Thane district, which borders Mumbai, when a wall collapsed at a school.

Two waiters were electrocuted after rainwater gushed into a restaurant and came in contact with a live wire in Thane. Another person was critically injured.

And six labourers died near the western city of Pune, 150 kilometres (around 100 miles) from Mumbai, when a wall fell onto their makeshift shacks. At least 15 labourers died in a similar accident on Saturday.

Mumbai’s streets regularly flood during the monsoon, which runs from June until September or October, and which provides India with most of its annual rainfall.

In 2005, 950 millimetres (37 inches) of rain fell on the coastal metropolis in just 24 hours, killing more than 500 people.

At least 10 people died in August 2017, when intense rainfall brought the commercial hub to a virtual standstill for two days.

Activists say Mumbai’s susceptibility to floods has worsened in recent years due to a construction boom that is trying to keep up with the city’s swelling population.

Much of Mumbai’s mangrove cover, which helps drain water, has been destroyed over the past decade to make way for glitzy highrises.

According to various studies, anywhere between 40 to 50 percent of the city’s population live in slums, which become a sea of blue tarpaulin every monsoon as residents try to keep out the rain.

AFP