Himachal Pradesh: 23 kids among 27 killed as school bus falls into gorge
DHARAMSHALA: At least 23 children and two teachers were killed when a school bus plunged 328 feet into a gorge in Himachal Pradesh’s Malkwal, on the Punjab border, on Monday afternoon. Kangra district officials fear the death toll may rise as 11 other children have been injured in the worst school bus accident in the region in recent years. The condition of at least three of the injured children, hospitalised at Pathankot in Punjab, are said to be serious. All the kids are between 5 and 14 years. The bus belonging to the Wazir Ram Singh Pathania private school had left the campus at around 3 pm. It had barely covered 6 km when the driver is believed to have lost control of the bus, resulting in the fatal plunge. A local woman who had taken a lift on the bus a few minutes earlier was among the dead. Officials said it would be difficult to ascertain the cause of the accident until they speak to the survivors and get more details. They have, however, registered a case against the driver Madan Lal, an ex-army man, who, too, was killed in the accident. He has been booked for rash driving and causing death by negligence under the Indian Penal Code. Police officials will also be speaking to locals who were the first responders. Many of them had rushed down to the wreckage the moment they heard the loud noise of the bus hitting the rocks.
Of the 23 children killed, 13 were boys and 10 were girls. “I heard a loud bang and rushed out only to see the bus falling down. It reached bottom of the hill very quickly,” said an eyewitness Sahil Kumar. Kangra SP Santosh Patial told TOI that the impact of the accident was such that much of the vehicle was crushed. “We had to cut open the body of the bus to pull out the victims and survivors,” he said. “We have been able to account for 38 people in the bus. As a precaution, we are making sure no one fell out at the time of the accident”. Principal of the school, Sunita Kumari, said the bus was carrying students of all standards – from nursery to class 10. “The bus had been inspected by all the authorities and had met all norms,” she said. Expressing grief over the accident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed solidarity with the parents of the dead students. Congress president Rahul Gandhi also expressed grief over the loss of life in the accident and said that he was deeply disturbed and saddened by it. Chief minister Jairam Thakur announced Rs 5 lakh for each of the families of the deceased and ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident. Two cabinet ministers — Kishan Kapoor and Sarveen Choudhary — reached the spot late evening to monitor relief operations.
Gas cylinder blast triggers fire in Kalyan, 5 injured
KALYAN: Five people, two of them minors, were injured grievously in a fire sparked by leakage in a cooking gas cylinder at a godown in Kalyan on Monday afternoon. Three of them have more than 50% burn injuries and in a critical condition. An official from Khadakpada police station said that some people were preparing food when the cylinder exploded, sparking the blaze. Three of the injured-Poojan Rajbhar, Suraj Gupta and Nandlal Gupta-suffered more than 50% injuries. All five were first admitted to Rukminibai Hospital in Kalyan and were later shifted to Thane’s Central hospital.
Beware of clone machine before swiping your card
NEW DELHI: The next time you are swiping your debit or credit card on a point of sale (POS) machine, make sure there are no attachments with it. Crooks seem to have rigged these handheld machines. An Air Force officer and a manager with an MNC swiped their cards and lost Rs 40,000 each, the maximum permissible daily transaction limit from their account. The possibility of these incidents being the handiwork of the same group of skimmers has not been ruled out. The IAF officer, Praveen Kumar, said that his wife had swiped the card at Sarojini Nagar market on Thursday evening. After some time, he received a message on his mobile phone showing that Rs 10,000 had been withdrawn from his account from an ATM in CR Park. Before Kumar could block the card, three more transactions took place from another ATM in the same area. He then lodged a complaint at CR Park police station.
The second case was reported at Vasant Vihar. The MNC executive was defrauded via four transactions from his account. He had swiped his debit card at the kiosk of a cab operator at IGI airport early on Monday. “I punched in the ATM PIN in the presence of the person at the kiosk. The card was soon cloned and money withdrawn,” the victim said. The modus operandi have indicated the usage of skimmer devices, which are used to illegally copy card details when it is swiped at an ATM or a POS machine. Such devices are available for as little as Rs 7,000, police said. A police officer, who had earlier busted a gang using such devices to cheat people, said that criminals are getting their hands on China-made devices. “These are either procured online or through dealers selling electronic items,” he added. Many popular e-commerce websites were found offering the devices that can be connected with a USB port to read and copy card data.
Alert neighbours acted fast before firemen arrived
NEW DELHI: After slogging for 18 hours till 2am on Monday, 22-year-old Mohd Ali woke up approximately four hour later to screams and cries for help amidst thick smoke. As he reached the first floor, he found the floor heating up like a pan and quickly jumped from the window to escape to safety. He was one among those who were lucky to survive the fire that later engulfed the entire building in the narrow lane of Raj Park Colony in Sultanpuri. The native of Asmada in Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh said that around 35 people are from his village, while the remaining 15 workers are from Agra. The two groups used to sleep on different floors. While the workers from Agra escaped without any losses, four people from Asmada lost their lives. Hearing the workers’ cries for help, neighbours swiftly started rescue operations before emergency services could arrive. Ravinder Kumar, who lives next to the multi-storey building, smelled smoke inside his room. After seeing the fire, he went out and started the water pump to douse the flames.
“We continued to throw water, but as the electrical wiring didn’t have proper earth connection, we started getting mild shocks,” Kumar said. Later, the neighbours put up two ladders on the sides of the walls allowing 20 people to climb down to safety. The neighbours also lined up mattresses in an empty plot next to the building allowing the rest of the factory workers to jump and escape from the blaze. Residents also broke open a side door to help them. The workers lived, worked and ate in the same building. The factory owner had locked the main gate to stop theft. “Each worker is paid Rs 30-50 for every piece of shoe. The low salary doesn’t allow us to rent a room,” said Ali Mohd, whose cousin Mohd Razi died in the accident. He and his brother were planning to go back to their village for the latter’s wedding scheduled on May 9. The family members of the deceased brothers, Mehbub Waris and Ayub, are on their way to collect their mortal remains. Their cousin, Shan Waris, managed to jump from the building but injured his legs. The trio had come to Delhi three years ago after Ayub’s father suffered a paralysis attack.
Goons with guns loot Rs 14 lakh in 6pm Posta strike
KOLKATA: A group of robbers looted cash of more than Rs 14 lakh from the Posta office of a Siliguri-based trader after holding his employee at gunpoint on Saturday evening. The incident took place barely 200 metres from the Posta police station. Shyam Sharma, who works under 41-year-old trader Devi Lal Sharma, was also assaulted by the robbers. The cops said three men had barged in to the office and escaped with cash worth Rs 14,48,000 in a 15-minute operation. Wholesale trader Sharma deals in grapes that he usually brings from Nasik for sale in Kolkata and neighbouring areas. The Jorabagan police have registered a case in this regard and are further investigating it. The anti-robbery section of detective department too has launched a parallel probe. Officers said that though they have received CCTV footages, they were yet to fix the identity of the accused. A number of present and former employees have been asked to record their statements with the police.
Shyam is being questioned at Lalbazar. “We are ascertaining if the claims made by Shyam and the sequence of events that he has mentioned are backed with evidence,” said an investigating officer. According to a source, Devi Lal’s office is located inside a four-storey trading hub on KK Tagore Street that houses 33 other offices. “Around 6pm, three unidentified persons entered the office room situated on the mezzanine floor (between third and second floors) of premises no 54/A, K K Tagore Street. One of them reportedly pulled out a gun from his pocket, pointed it at Shyam and also physically assaulted him, raining blows and kicks on him when he tried to resist. The case was recorded on the basis of a complaint by Deendayal Sharma (41), a relative of Devi Lal,” said an officer at Lalbazar. The detective department had earlier nabbed a five member Jharkhand-based robbers’ gang for their alleged involvement in a robbery in Posta last year where they had tied up staff of a firm and looted Rs 8 lakh on June 2.
CCTV cam footage helps police arrest T Nagar muggers
CHENNAI: Police have arrested two chain snatchers one of whom followed a woman and dragged her for a distance before escaping with a part of her two-sovereign gold chain in T Nagar. Parts of the crime were caught on CCTV cameras which helped the police nab the two men. The two were identified as Dinesh, 21, and Kumar, 20, of Nungambakkam, owner of the vehicle used in the crime. Police are on the lookout for the rider, Madan, who came along with Dinesh on the day of the incident. Police said Dinesh and Madan were habitual offenders involved in chain-snatching at Chetpet, Egmore and Kilpauk. The latest incident took place last Thursday at 6.30am when the victim, Devi, 42, was on her way to work. Police said on Thirumalai Pillai Road, a man riding pillion on a scooter got down and followed the woman. The sequence caught on camera showed Dinesh, wearing a blue shirt, following Devi with Madan waiting at a distance. Police said Dinesh grabbed her chain ran towards the scooter, but Devi held onto it and ran along with him. After Dinesh boarded the scooter, Devi was dragged along the road for a few seconds. The two sped away after the chain broke. Devi, who got no help as the stretch was deserted, sustained injuries on her neck and was admitted to a private hospital. With the help of footage from another CCTV camera, police traced the vehicle. They nabbed Dinesh and Kumar, hunt is on for Madan.
4,000 security personnel to be deployed for Chennai IPL match in wake of Cauvery protests
CHENNAI: A 4,000 strong posse of policemen will be deployed for security on Tuesday for the CSK-KKR tie, amid intensified opposition to the IPL matches to be held here with a pro-Tamil outfit agitating over the Cauvery issue threatening to hold protests outside the game venue. Being held here after a gap of almost three years, tickets have been sold out for the match. Seven Indian Premier League matches are scheduled to be held here between April 10 and May 20. Flags and banners have been banned, with commandos and Rapid Action Force personnel forming part of the security for the tie. Spectators would not be allowed to carry firecrackers, inflammable materials and firearms, besides bags, mobile phones, brief-cases, pagers, radios, digital diaries, laptops, computers, tape-recorders, binoculars, remote control devices, remote control car-keys or any other electronic devices, Tamil Nadu Cricket Association said in a release. The Tamil Nadu government, on its part, put the onus on the IPL governing body for conducting the matches. The cricket board has been apprised of “our sentiments,” fisheries minister D Jayakumar said. He said “it would be good” if the BCCI respected the sentiments and not conduct the match here but government would provide all support, including security, as per laid down guidelines. Political parties and outfits have been demanding that IPL matches not be held at this time, saying the state is witnessing widespread agitations on the vexed issue. Opposition DMK working president MK Stalin had said the organisers of IPL matches should realise the issues faced by the people and act accordingly.
“We are not saying that it (matches) should not be held. The organisers should realise the problems of people and act accordingly,” he had said last week. Tamil film star Rajnikanth had suggested that CSK team players play with black bands as a mark of expressing the anguish of people who have been staging protests demanding setting up of Cauvery Management Board. He had said the Centre might face the wrath of entire Tamil Nadu if CMB was not set up immediately. Pro-Tamil outfit Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi (TVK) today warned of picketing the stadium tomorrow if the IPL stuck to its Chennai calendar. TVK chief Velmurugan told reporters that if the match was held despite its plea, they would coordinate with all democratic forces to stop it by organising a massive picketing protest. Later, Velmurugan told PTI that his party or outfits that have joined hands with it were not against the players. Police in a release tonight said that as part of the stringent measures, a 4,000 strong police force, comprising one team of commandos and four teams of personnel of Rapid Action Force, besides a number of senior officials, would be part of the security detail inside and outside the M A Chidambaram stadium, where the match will be held. They had earlier said 2,000 personnel would be deployed. The fans will be allowed entry only after a thorough check, the release said, adding proper traffic arrangements would also be put in place. Meanwhile a group of prominent film actors and directors launched a forum to back Tamils’ cause in the state and called for “postponement'” of IPL fixtures in the state, saying it was “boiling” over the Cauvery issue.
Veteran film director Bharathiraja, part of the forum, told reporters IPL would “divert” the prevailing “awakening” among the youth in Tamil Nadu over the Cauvery issue. “Tamil Nadu is boiling … we are not saying there is no need for IPL … Please postpone (the matches). IPL will divert the awakening among the youth over Cauvery issue,” he said. However, CSK CEO K S Viswanathan said the team’s home matches would go on as scheduled and that city police, which has been informed of the schedule, would handle the situation accordingly. The state has witnessed widespread protests for the past one week, with political parties, farmers outfits and others, including the Tamil cinema industry, urging the Centre to establish the Cauvery Management Board to implement the February 16 verdict of the apex court. On February 16, the Supreme Court raised the 270 tmc ft. share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmc ft. and reduced Tamil Nadu’s share while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmc ft. groundwater from the river basin. The court had granted six weeks’ time to the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its 465-page judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute, which modified the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award of 2007. The court had also made it clear that it will not be extending time for this on any ground. The six-week period ended on March 29.
Blast kills at least six in Afghanistan’s Herat province
HERAT: A blast from explosives placed on a motorbike killed at least six people, including four children, and wounded nine other children in Herat province in western Afghanistan, a government official said. The explosion happened near a mosque in Shind and district, said Jilani Farhad, a spokesman for Herat’s governor said.
Travel chaos: Lufthansa to cancel 800 flights today
FRANKFURT AM MAIN: German airline giant Lufthansa said it will cancel “more than 800” flights on Tuesday as public-sector workers walk out on strike for more pay, hobbling major airports like Frankfurt. “Lufthansa must cancel more than 800 of its planned 1,600 flights tomorrow, including 58 long-distance services, because of the strike,” the group said in a statement, adding that around 90,000 passengers would be affected. Service would be back to normal on Wednesday after the strike, which will see groups like support staff and airport firefighters walk off the job between 05.00 am and 6.00 pm local time, Lufthansa added. Frankfurt airport warned on its website of “significant delays and cancellations” affecting many airlines. The Tuesday “warning strike” will also hit Munich, Cologne and Bremen airports. Major union Verdi said its walkouts between April 10 and 13 aim at “increasing pressure” on employers to “allow public sector workers a share in good economic performance” in Europe’s largest economy, where tax income has surged as the pace of growth has picked up.
100 injured in major student protests in Bangladesh
Bangladeshi university students block a road in Dhaka during a protest against the quota system used in government recruitment on April 9, 2018.
DHAKA: Thousands of students across Bangladesh staged protests and sit-ins Monday after clashes at the country’s top university left at least 100 people injured. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at Dhaka University students fighting what they consider “discriminatory” government job quotas in favour of special groups. It was one of the biggest protests faced by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her decade in power. A minister was due to meet protest leaders in Dhaka on Monday. But students at state-run universities in Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Barisal, Rangpur, Sylhet and Savar boycotted classes and staged sit-ins, police and media said. “More than 1,000 students joined the demonstrations at Jahangirnagar University,” said Ataur Rahman, a protester in Savar where the university is located. The clashes, which began Sunday night and went into the early hours of Monday, turned Dhaka University into a battleground. Copycat protests soon started in other major cities as thousands of students boycotted classes and staged sit-ins. Organisers in Dhaka said they were holding peaceful protests when police started firing tear gas and rubber bullets. They used batons and water cannon to clear a central square. As violence spread across the campus, thousands of male and female students launched into pitched battles with police.
“More than 100 people were injured,” police inspector Bacchu Mia told AFP, adding they were treated in hospital but their condition was not serious. Protesters threw rocks, vandalised the home of the Dhaka University vice-chancellor, torched two cars and ransacked the fine arts institute, said senior police officer Azimul Haque. Fifteen people were detained, police said. The students are angry at the government’s decision to set aside 56 percent of civil service jobs for the families of veterans from the 1971 war of independence and for disadvantaged minorities. That leaves most university graduates to fight for only 44 percent of the jobs. Hasan Al Mamun, a leader of the protests, said tens of thousands of students joined the demonstrations nationwide. Police declined to estimate the number. Al Mamun said the quota for top-grade jobs should be reduced to only 10 per cent. “These quotas are discriminatory. Due to the quota system, 56 per cent of the jobs are set aside for five percent of the country’s population. And 95 per cent of the people can compete for the 44 per cent,” he said. Students are particularly upset at the 30 per cent quota set aside for descendants of veterans of the independence war. Sheikh Hasina, whose father was the architect of the country’s independence from Pakistan, has rejected demands to slash the quotas.