Police Gypsy stolen ahead of Independence Day, cops raise vigil
NEW DELHI: In a major security breach ahead of Independence Day, a police quick reaction team (QRT) vehicle with flashers on top has been stolen from a spot near South Extension in south Delhi, TOI has learnt. The vehicle was attached to the Tughlaq Road police station and had just returned from a patrol. The theft has sent security agencies in a tizzy, with a massive hunt launched to recover the vehicle, a Gypsy . Personnel at barricades set up for Independence Day and all beat officer have been asked to keep a lookout for the vehicle. The area DCP has been asked to supervise the probe. The theft comes days after security agencies had issued an alert regarding possibility of a car, including a police vehicle, being used as a vehicle borne IED (VBIED) for a strike before August 15. Fearing misuse, intelligence agencies are assisting the police in tracking down the vehicle. Sources said the theft took place recently. The driver had gone home in the vehicle and parked it outside his house. He went in for a few minutes and returned to find the vehicle missing. Immediately, a PCR call was made and messages flashed across Delhi. An FIR was also registered.
Police have also issued an order that no staff vehicle is to be abandoned even for a moment. All SHOs have been asked to ensure that vehicles attached to their police stations are parked within the thana premises. All officers, including ACPs, have been asked to carry arms as well. Cops have also activated informers in the auto-lifting gangs to generate information about the culprits. Cops suspect the Gypsy was being tailed while it was on patrol. CCTV footage of the area is being scanned for clues. Locals have been questioned but no breakthrough has been made yet. This time, the threat perception for August 15 is higher as the day also coincides with Janmashtmi. Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik has been on his toes taking stock of security arrangements. He has order sleuths of the special cell to work round-the-clock to identify possible lapses in security, which are being passed on to supervisory officers. A few days ago, Patnaik had handed out a list of security loopholes in the area to a special commissioner, sources said.
Mumbai’s lifeline saves the day as crucial roads stay clogged during peak hours
MUMBAI: Though trains were almost crowded throughout the day, rail commute proved to be the smoothest mode of transport on Wednesday, barring a snag in Kurla which delayed CR services on the main line. It was a slow drive for those heading in and out of south Mumbai via roads, especially during the peak hours, as traffic police had closed quite a few stretches and put in place in several diversions. Traffic snarls were also seen at Vashi and Thane checkposts early in the morning. Public transport was badly affected in south Mumbai as roads were clogged due to the Maratha morcha. BEST had to cancel several routes between CSMT and Byculla and a large number of kaali-peeli taxis stayed off the roads. Whatever few taxis were available mostly refused fares, said commuters. “Getting an aggregator cab in south Mumbai was difficult due to an acute shortage of cabs,” said Amit Pradhan, an office-goer from Fort. Traffic police sources said the morcha was “peaceful” and the only concern was regulating the flow of the nearly 15,000 vehicles in which the protesters arrived. Thanks to these vehicles, which came from Nashik, Pune and Raigad, the entry points at Thane and Vashi toll nakas were choc-a-bloc with traffic since 8am. This led to traffic snarls along the Eastern Express Highway and Sion-Panvel highway.
Suchitra Das, who travelled from Andheri to south Mumbai in the afternoon, said, “I travelled around 2pm and the traffic problem had eased by then. There was no problem on JVLR or Eastern Express Highway and it was a smooth ride on the Freeway.” Joint commissioner of police (traffic) Amitesh Kumar said it has been a challenging day handling such a huge crowd smoothly. As for the railways, the authorities ensured that services ran as per schedule and there were no delays during peak hours. Said Sandesh Bhagat, a Harbour line commuter, “I was apprehensive that there will be rush in trains. But it wasn’t so bad.” Commuters said the trains were crammed only between 9am and 11am and later in the evening from 5pm onwards. The platforms at CSMT were crowded with protesters. “But we operated trains with good frequency,” said an official. “Several passengers including women and students were not travelling on Wednesday and hence, the rush was less,” he added.
Heavy rains lash Delhi-NCR, traffic jams at many places
NEW DELHI: Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) witnessed heavy rains on Wednesday morning. While the torrential rains brought relief from the heat and humidity, they threw life out of gear. Traffic movement was affected at various spots due to heavy downpour and water logging in Delhi. Heavy traffic jam was witnessed at ITO, Moti Bagh in Delhi, while in Noida vehicles were moving at a slow speed near Film City road near DND Flyway loop, Kalindi Kunj, Rajnigandha crossing and other places. The minimum temperature recorded in the national capital was at 28 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season’s normal. “The sky will be generally cloudy with light rain or thundershowers towards evening or night,” an official at the India Meteorological Department had said. The maximum temperature was likely to hover around 35.6 degrees Celsius. The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was 89 per cent and the city received 5.6 mm of rainfall in the last 24 hours. On Tuesday, the minimum temperature was recorded at 26.5 degrees Celsius and the maximum temperature settled at 34.4 degrees Celsius, the season’s average.
5-km traffic jam on road to KIA gives flyers the jitters
BENGALURU: Flyers heading to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) experienced anxious moments early on Tuesday morning as traffic came to a standstill on a Ballari Road stretch. A truck turned turtle and a cab broke down on the road linking the aerodrome to the trumpet intersection, resulting in a five-kilometre jam which lasted an hour. Airport authorities reported a flurry of calls to airlines from stranded passengers but said there were no instances of anyone having missing their flight. Traffic police had a tough time in clearing the traffic as both the vehicles blocked the road. However, no casualties were reported in the truck accident that occurred around 5.30am. “The 10-wheeled truck was heading to KIA’s cargo terminal and its driver lost control when he reached the first circle located two km before the airport. The truck’s wheels collided with the road divider and the vehicle fell to its left. Due to this, 80% of the road was blocked and cars were not able to pass,” police said.
As cops diverted the traffic to the other lane, cabs stranded near the truck took a U-turn and one of them broke down. “Along with the truck, the car also blocked the road. With great difficulty, we managed to ease traffic flow on the other lane,” traffic police said. “There were no major delays or reports of passengers missing flights. The number of flight operations is very high from 5am to 8.30am and many passengers report much in advance. We immediately got down to ready a service road for vehicles to reach the terminal. All airlines also cooperated as they got many calls from jittery passengers and ensured they didn’t miss flights,” said a KIA spokesperson. Even Air India officials said none of its passengers missed flights.
West Bengal has 263 villages without mobile and internet reach
KOLKATA: There are over 250 villages across West Bengal where telecom services including mobile and internet service are yet to reach. The state information technology and electronics (IT&E) department is discussing the issue with several telecom providers to come up with a plan to cover all the shadow zones of the state. According to estimates with the IT department, a total of 263 villages across nine districts of the state in Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong, South Dinajpur, North Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Nadia, West Midnapore and Bankura are without mobile and internet connectivity. “These are the shadow zones which are yet to get mobile or internet connectivity. We will again meet this month with suggestions and feedback as to how shadow zones could be eliminated,” said a senior IT&E department official. The IT department officials tried to understand what would make the service providers to extend service to these areas as well. “Several issues were discussed including formation of a telecom right-of-way policy, possibility of coming up with an incentive framework, a uniform fee structure and other factors to see if the telecom coverage could be extended to these shadow zones,” said an official. Officials said that the telecom service providers and operators came up with a suggestion if a single window approval mechanism could be framed. “The operators will be provided with land map of the shadow zone areas.
Rain stops Hyderabad, clogs IT hub, traffic crawls
HYDERABAD: Heavy rain slashed Hyderabad on Wednesday, throwing life out of gear in several parts of the city. While several low lying areas of the city like Kavadiguda, Bhagya Laxmi Nagar and Bhoiguda were inundated, damaged water-logged roads led to huge traffic jams from as early as 9am. Among the worst affected were thousands of office-goers, particularly software employees who were stuck in traffic snarls while trying to reach their offices in areas such as Madhapur, Kondapur and Gachibowli in the city’s IT hub. “It was difficult for my two-wheeler to navigate the water logged roads. And with the water board and electricity department digging up the roads, all my attention was focused on trying to not fall into a ditch,” said Nagole resident P A Reddy, who got drenched in the rain as he travelled towards Nagarjuna Circle for work. Similarly, M Raghava Rao, a resident of Singapore Township, rued: “All the roads in my area are inundated. Though the rain was not heavy, the road and even my parking lot got flooded. A small spell of rain is all it takes to immobilize the city”.
Even residents of Tarnaka claimed that the six-hour downpour scuppered all their chances of even stepping out of their homes. “The water rose to our ankles, and travelling on a two-wheeler in such conditions would have been highly risky. That is why, many of us chose to stay at home rather than move out,” said DSN Murthy, a resident of Tarnaka. Now, officials of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) are predicting more rains for the next 48 hours. “There would be isolated rainfall, at times heavy, across the state. In some places, the rain could be as high as seven centimetres,” predicted, Y K Reddy, director, IMD Hyderabad. As per GHMC’s control room, which registered 104 rain related complaints on Wednesday, the highest number of complaints pertained to water logging and stagnation, with 34 such complaints being received from across the city.
Dengue awareness: Squads soon to visit homes in Chennai
CHENNAI: Little anti-mosquito squads armed with ladles, torch lights and samples of Aedes larvae may soon visit your homes to check for breeding spots of dengue-causing mosquitoes, give you tips to clear them out and help you keep the surroundings cleaning. Officials from the directorate of public health have been visiting schools across the state to teach students all about the mosquito using interactive media including videos. Students will go on field visit with health department officials and teachers in and around schools to identify larvae of mosquitoes and clear them out. “They will help people clear the spaces by scrubbing or sprinkling it with bleaching powder,” said the director of public health, Dr. K Kolandaswamy. The directorate came up with the idea after it registered more 5,000 cases of dengue and at least half a dozen deaths. “While some students form teams to take out a rally and do street plays to create awareness, some prepare reports and alert health officials about breeding sources,” he said. The health department which has been giving free stationery to students is now planning an annual felicitation programme, where they would be given certificates for the good work, he said. “When you tell students something they ensure they follow it. They will spot all breeding sources on campus and ensure their homes are safe,” said R Sharada, a school teacher. The health department agrees that it is yet to see a direct impact of the programme on the dengue incidence.
China hit by 2nd earthquake of 6.6 magnitude
BEIJING: China was rattled by a second earthquake of 6.6 magnitude on Wednesday, injuring 32 people, even as rescue efforts were on in Sichuan province where a powerful quake a day earlier killed 19 people. An earthquake of 7.0 magnitude jolted a tourist destination in Sichuan on Tuesday night. The second quake in Jinghe county in Bortala prefecture in Xinjiang province happened at 7.27am at a depth of 11km, Xinhua news agency reported. Of the 32 injured, two were in a serious condition. A total of 142 homes collapsed, authorities said. At least 121 aftershocks were recorded as of 1pm with the magnitude of 6. About 600 houses and livestock sheds were damaged in neighbouring Ili Kazakh prefecture. Services of 40 passenger trains were stopped and 21 others suspended. Earlier reports said residents in Jinghe county and the cities of Urumqi, Changji, Yining and Karamay felt strong tremors that lasted 10 to 20 seconds. The epicentre was 37km from Jinghe county seat, 93km from Bole city, and 383km from Urumqi. Jinghe county has a population of about 150,000. A total of 65 quakes greater than magnitude 3 have been recorded within 200km of the epicentre over the past five years, the current being the greatest.
Brussels police open fire on car in Molenbeek suburb: Report
BRUSSELS: Brussels police have opened fire on a car after a high-speed chase in the suburb of Molenbeek and the driver has told officers there are explosives inside the vehicle. Brussels prosecutor’s spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch told The Associated Press on Tuesday afternoon that police fired once at the car, which was involved in two collisions during the chase. Van Wymersch said: “When they got the person out, he immediately claimed that there were explosives inside”. She said the man was alone and no one has been injured. Army bomb disposal experts have been called in and police have sealed off the area, locking a number of people in nearby shops as a precaution, Van Wymersch said. Brussels police spokeswoman Dorothee Cattrysse said 400 to 500 people were being kept in the stores. Brussels has been on high alert since 32 people were killed in 2016 suicide attacks. Many suspects linked to those attacks and the November 2015 massacre in Paris lived in or transited through Molenbeek.