News Flash – 11 July 2017

National News

 

 

7 Amarnath yatris killed as terrorist’s target bus in J&K’s Anantnag

Security has been enhanced following the attack on pilgrims in Anantnag.

 

 

Seven Amarnath yatris from Gujarat were killed and 14 others injured when terrorists opened fire on a bus near Batengoo in J&K’s Anantnag district, about 50km from Srinagar, on Monday. Some reports put the number of victims at six. A nearby police camp was also attacked, sources said, adding that the toll could be higher. The dead included women. Initial reports said the bus was not registered with the Amarnath shrine board and was travelling after permitted hours without adequate security. The attack, coming on the first day of “shravan” associated with Lord Shiva, who is central to the pilgrimage, added to the sense of outrage over the killings. Police sources said the terrorists initially attacked a police bunker at Batengoo. The fire was returned but there was no report of injuries. Thereafter the terrorists fired on a police naka near Khanabal and again faced retaliation. A tourist bus was then targeted and the pilgrims were hit. The bus was on way to Jammu from Baltal and was not part of a convoy, the police spokesman said. PL Mall, superintendent of police of Sabarkantha, said, “The bus with registration number GJ09Z9976 registered in name of Umiya Sai Travels of Idar was sold to Om Travels in Valsad. The bus which had owner Jawahar Desai’s son Harsh on board left for Amarnath pilgrimage on July 2. After offering prayers, the bus was returning back when it was attacked. The injured includes Harsh Desai”.

 

Central security sources said the area has a presence of Hizbul Mujahideen but the Lashkar-e-Toiba also has boots on the ground. The attack comes as security forces were keyed up in anticipation of efforts by the Pakistan-based jihadi groups to stage an outrage around the first death anniversary of Hizbul leader Burhan Wani whose death sparked off sustained violence in the Kashmir valley. Sources said there were general inputs regarding a threat to Amarnath yatris. However, there was no specific input indicating the time and place of a possible attack. “The response to the last few incidents in the valley has been strong and effective. The terrorists are under pressure to show their worth and found an easy target in the Amarnath yatris”, said a top intelligence functionary. As the bus was not registered, it did not have adequate security cover. CRPF chief Rajiv Bhatnagar said, “The bus was not part of the official convoy. It was not registered with the Amarnath board, as required for all non-official vehicles headed for the shrine. The official convoy had passed the spot at 7pm, under protective cover of Jammu and Kashmir Police and CRPF. The security personnel had therefore withdrawn from the area by the time the attack took place around 8.20pm.” The shrine board advisory clearly asks yatris to register as this helps in their identification as well as security arrangements. Also, they are to start early so that they can reach the base camp before sunset. The advisory warns them against being in the highway after sunset.

 

 

Fire breaks out at Mukesh Ambani’s Antilia’s terrace; under control

A Reliance spokesperson said that the fire was in the garden area and was extinguished.

 

 

MUMBAI: On Monday night around 9 pm the Mumbai Fire brigade received a call about fire at Antilia building, in South Mumbai’s Altamount Road, owned by industrialist Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries. The fire is said to have occurred on the terrace area. The Chief Fire Officer (CFO) PS Rahangdale said that the fire officials reached the spot quickly and fire was immediately brought under control. “The fire was in a garden area where there was a mobile tower as well,” said Rahangdale. Deputy Commissioner of Police Rashmi Karandikar, city police’s spokesperson, said that fire was on the sixth floor of Antilia building. The police and fire brigade were at the spot and the situation was under control. A Reliance spokesperson also said that the fire was in the garden area and was extinguished.

 

 

Was Reliance Jio’s customer information hacked?

 

 

NEW DELHI: Private data of millions of customers of Reliance Jio may have been compromised through a large-scale hacking attack that revealed information such as a subscriber’s name, mobile number, email and SIM activation details. Jio, however, called reports of a breach as “unverified and unsubstantiated claims”, but added that it has informed the government about the incident. The matter came to light on Sunday when a website, fonearena.com, said it has been able to get private details of customers of Jio on a website magicapk.com. The issue raised concerns about whether the alleged hacking of information may have also led to leakage of Aadhaar data, something that official sources described as “highly unlikely”. In any case, the information accessed by fonearena.com did not bring out Aadhaar details or even the Aadhaar number, even though it could access the names, phone numbers, email ids and SIM activation details of some customers. The magicapk.com website has since been de-activated. When contacted, a spokesperson for Jio said data being put out appears to be “unauthentic”. “We have come across the unverified and unsubstantiated claims of the website and are investigating it. Prima facie, the data appears to be unauthentic”. The spokesperson said authorities have been informed. “We want to assure our subscribers that their data is safe and maintained with highest security. Data is only shared with authorities as per their requirement. We have informed law enforcement agencies about claims of the website and will follow to ensure strict action is taken”.

 

Official sources in the IT ministry said there are “no reasons for a panic” as critical Aadhaar information -such as biometric details -remains safe. “It cannot be breached easily, and the government is always alert against any such hacking,” a top official said, requesting anonymity. Earlier this year, online restaurant and food startup Zomato said a record data of around 17 million users had been hacked from its database, which included email addresses and hashed passwords. Asking subscribers to reset passwords, it, however, said no payment information or credit card data had been stolen or leaked. Cyber-security has emerged as a primary concern for online companies and the government as much of the customer verification processes get online, and cloud and private servers are increasingly being used to store critical data. New Delhi: Reacting to the alleged Reliance Jio data breach, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said the reports suggest that there is no leakage of Aadhaar numbers or any other information linked to it. “There is no question of Aadhaar-related data leak. UIDAI is very vigilant. And in case any leak comes to light, UIDAI will take strict action as per the law as it has done in the past,” a top UIDAI official, who did not wish to be identified, told TOI.

 

 

Swine flu surge: 1 in every 5 tested for H1N1 virus positive

 

 

MUMBAI: Every fifth person who underwent a test for influenza H1N1since April in the city has tested positive for the virus. The wide footprint of swine flu becomes clearer given that only a fraction of H1N1 patients -those hospitalized or belonging to the high-risk groups -are being tested according to the government protocol. Health experts say H1N1 has been the most dominant influenza type this monsoon. Data compiled by the BMC showed that of the 2,603 people tested for the infection since April, 484 were positive. Maharashtra, including Mumbai, recorded 284 deaths and 2,324 cases this year, and continues to be one of the worst-affected states. The city has had nearly 500 confirmed cases and nine deaths so far. Interestingly, the positivity rates seem to differ between public and government testing laboratories. In the public laboratories such as Kasturba and Haffkine Institute, the positivity rate is higher at around 23%. The rate drops significantly to 17% in the private laboratories. Currently, 11laboratories and private hospitals in the city are permitted to carry out H1N1 tests. “The difference in positivity is because of sampling. At public hospitals, appropriate sampling techniques are followed, whereby specimens from only serious or hospitalized patients are being tested. Private centres, on the other hand, are not abiding by the government protocol and testing even those who don’t need to get tested,” said a senior civic official.

 

He added that this not only puts a burden on the labs but also unnecessarily taxes the patient. The H1N1test costs Rs 4,500 in a private laboratory and a couple of thousands more when the patient is admitted to a private hospital. Under the national guidelines, there are three testing categories depending on the symptoms, severity and vulnerability of high-risk patients, such as pregnant women, senior citizens, children, people with hypertension, diabetes, etc. Physicians also blamed patients who insist on getting tested. A doctor from Saifee Hospital cited the example of a family where three members had flu like symptoms. “They had already got tested at one of the private labs. They came to consult me only because one had tested positive, ” said infectious disease consultant Dr. Vasant Nagvekar. The unusual rush of samples has also led to a delay in providing reports. Some private labs take up to two days to give the report. “At the Kasturba hospital, we are giving the molecular test reports within 4-5 hours,” said Dr. Jayanti Shastri, head of the Kasturba laboratory. But patients have complained that availing the testing facility at Kasturba Hospital is not easy. Advocate Adil Khatri said his family friend’s child, who was recommended the test, was denied the facility till she got admitted to the hospital.

 

 

3 armed men loot Rs 10L from dairy booth owner, customers

Jahangirpuri robbery was caught on CCTV.

 

 

NEW DELHI: Cash and valuables worth Rs 40 lakh were robbed in two incidents reported from Jahangirpuri and Rohini on Monday evening. In the first case, three men with covered faces entered an Amul booth in Mahendra Park in Jahangirpuri and held six people, including the owner Pawan Kumar, at gunpoint and robbed cash and valuables worth Rs 10 lakh. Kumar said the men asked the customers to give their valuables and frisked them. They then walked up to his counter, took a bag from the drawer and asked them to put their valuables inside it. The robbery was caught on CCTV. The footage shows the customers and employees being frisked by the men against the shop wall. While two criminals had a cloth wrapped around their faces, the third, who was the gang leader, was wearing a helmet. All of them were carrying pistols. After collecting the valuables, including the day’s earnings at the dairy booth, the robbers sped off on a motorbike. “We parted with our valuables as it seemed that the robbers would not hesitate to open fire if we resisted,” said Kumar.

 

“A team from Mahendra Park police station has lifted evidence from the crime spot. A probe has been initiated to identify the robbers,” said DCP (northeast) Milind Dumbere. The second incident was reported around 4pm from Rohini when snatchers targeted two Jewellers travelling on a rickshaw near Rohini East Metro station. The Jewellers, Devinder Goyal and his brother Rajiv, were carrying gold and cash worth Rs 30 lakh and were returning from Chandni Chowk. When they had boarded the rickshaw, Goyal kept the bag between his legs to guard it. When the rickshaw slowed down at a signal, two men on bike snatched the bag and sped off. DCP (Rohini) Rishipal said that a case of snatching has been registered and a manhunt launched to nab the snatchers.

 

 

Mantri Mall station gets 116% more footfalls

 

 

BENGALURU: The Mantri Square Sampige station has witnessed a 116% increase in metro traffic, since June 17, when the Green line to south Bengaluru was thrown open by President Pranab Mukherjee. This was the first station built by BMRCL and Mantri Developers through PPP mode that has a direct access right into the mall. Aditya Sikri, CEO-Commercial and Retail, Mantri Developers, said, “The opening of the green line is a step in the right direction towards the development of the city. This new corridor has come as a blessing since the city is constantly encountering traffic woes. The line will serve as an eco-friendly mode of transport and will contribute towards improving the efficiency and accessibility in the city. Given the proximity of the metro to Mantri Square, one of the most popular shopping centres that witness an average footfall in lakhs on weekends, the opportunity to travel now in a more economical way will improve convenience for customers significantly. Taking such steps towards superior mobility creates larger environmental value and adds to the urbanization growth of our city”. “The opening of the new metro corridor has been a very noteworthy move. It is a lot easier now to get to one end of the city from another without having to worry about traffic delays. What I like specifically about the Sampige station is that it directly opens into the Mantri Square Mall. The last time I saw or experienced something like this was in Dubai when I took the metro directly into Dubai Mall. I am sure this is extremely beneficial for mall goers as it literally offers them last mile connectivity into the Centre,” commented an enthusiastic commuter.

 

 

A mobile app that can help track missing people on the high seas

 

 

HYDERABAD: A mobile app, SARAT (Search and Rescue Aid Tool), that can help save lives and find lost objects at sea was released on Monday. The versatile tool has been developed by Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (Incois), Hyderabad, which is an autonomous agency under the ministry of earth sciences. The chairman of National Maritime Search And Rescue (NMSAR) Board and director general of Indian Coast Guard, Rajendra Singh, launched the app at the 16th NMSAR board meeting held at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. The SARAT app can assist in the search for over 64 types of missing `objects’, including boats, ships and people. While the web version was released last year, the mobile app will be available for download from the Google Play Store.

 

“Conducting search and rescue operations at sea is extremely challenging and can be compared to the proverbial search for a needle in a haystack. Typically, search and rescue operations are most frequent during bad weather over the high seas, when fisher folk inadvertently venture out and their vessels capsize,” Incois said. The system mainly enables the Indian Coast Guard, Navy and Coastal Security Police to minimize search time during various operations to reduce loss of life, injury and property damage. In such exigencies, quick action is vital and hence this mobile app has been developed to make this system conveniently available to all, Incois said. The accuracy of SARAT is validated using a network of drifting buoys and other instruments. The system proved its mettle earlier by successfully assisting in the recovery of the Indian Coast Guard’s missing Dornier aircraft off Chennai coast in 2015. The system can predict the most probable search area for up to five days. “SARAT is a good example of the success of the Make in India programme. Work is on to integrate it with the Indian satellite INSAT for improved real-time transmission and relay of information,” Incois said.

 

 

Bombs fly, 8 injured in party feud

 

 

BASANTI: An alleged intra-Trinamool clash in the early hours of Monday left at least eight people from the two rival party factions injured in Basanti, South 24 Parganas. Bombs were hurled while shops and houses belonging to supporters of both factions were damaged. Though police confirmed the attacks and bombing, no one has been arrested yet. Locals said the injured were avoiding going to hospital fearing arrest. Basanti is no stranger to political strife and violence. Several clashes have been witnessed, sometimes between RSP and CPM, then between CPM and Trinamool and now between rival Trinamool factions. The area witnessed five political clashes last year alone. Of late, rivalry between factions led by Trinamool MLAs Saukat Mollah of Canning East constituency and Jayanta Naskar of Basanti has allegedly sparked violence in the area. Clashes allegedly intensified since Saukat’s recent elevation as president of the South 24 Parganas Yuva Trinamool Congress. On Monday, trouble broke out when supporters of one of the factions attacked those of the other around 3am.

 

Naskar told TOI: “I am with the Trinamool since the party’s inception. Some people who joined our party from the CPM and brought goons along with them are trying to dominate us. This creates confusion in the locality which, in turn, sparks clashes”. Naskar loyalist Selim Sardar said: “Truckloads of Yuva Trinamool supporters reached Basanti and attacked us from three sides – Purba Nebukhashi, Sirishtala and Chaprakhali. They were led by Amanullah Laskar, block Yuva Trinamool president.” Sardar further alleged: “Saukat instigated the attack. They attacked homes of six of our supporters, including panchayat member Zakir Sheikh.” Basanti block Trinamool president Mantu Gazi said, “They are often creating trouble here over small issues. On Sunday, they organized a meeting to discuss preparations for the July 21 rally in Kolkata. Homes and shops of the party men who did not attend that meeting were attacked”. Denying all allegations, Saukat said, “The attacks and counter-attacks were by rival criminal gangs. The party has no connection with these clashes. I have asked police to take action in accordance with law.” SDPO Canning Dhruba Das, who has jurisdiction over Basanti, said: “Basanti witnessed group clashes since early on Monday. The rival groups also hurled bombs at each other. I went to the area with a large force. Peace has been restored and we are patrolling the area”.

 

 

Roof leaks, floods Chennai Central

 

 

CHENNAI: The 72mm cloud-burst in the city on Sunday not only flooded roads, it also made its impact felt on the concourse of one of India’s largest railway stations, Chennai Central. Portions of the roof began to leak and soon enough there were “Coutrallam like water-fall” on the station premises around 8:30pm on Sunday night, highlighting the poor state of affairs at the station. Social media was flooded with videos of the streams of water which soon formed puddles inside the station, much to the chagrin of the passengers. Water was also leaking in different parts of the station and dripping on to luggage and parcels. A senior official in Chennai division of Southern Railway said, “A portion of the roof-gutter had broken because of which the leakage had occurred. A similar scenario was experienced during an earlier heavy spell of rain and it was worse during the December 2015 floods when the station was filled with water. “Chennai Central has been billed as a world-class station and private agencies are going to bid for redeveloping the land around the station, but the leaking roof shows how railways first has to invest in improving existing facilities,” said a passenger who was stuck at the station on Sunday.

 

 

163 malaria cases in 8 days of July this year

 

 

Ahmedabad: The vector-borne infections appear to be on the rise. This is evident as some 163 cases of malaria induced by plasmodium vivax were reported in Ahmedabad in July, according to the civic body data. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC)’s weekly health report indicates that some 166 cases of vector-borne infections were reported in the city’s civic body-run hospitals alone till July 8. These include two cases of dengue and one case of falciparum malaria. This is against a total of 877 cases of malaria, 102 cases of dengue and 31 cases of falciparum malaria, reported in July last year. According to the health experts, most of the malaria cases are those of relapse malaria infections. Health experts and medical practitioners claim that since patients do not complete the entire course of medicines for 14 days, the chances of relapse increase. AMC has intensified its efforts towards curbing mosquito breeding sites especially after its programme – Malaria-free Gujarat by 2020. “Surveillance activities have been intensified and fogging and indoor residual spraying are being conducted regularly,” said a senior AMC health official. General practitioners claim that they have been getting sporadic cases of malaria for the past two weeks, however, there is no major complication in these cases.

 

 

International News

 

 

In Spain, 1,000-year-old court settles water disputes

 

 

VALENCIA (SPAIN): Eight men in black robes, sitting in a circle on chairs in the street outside a cathedral look on, stony-faced, as a bailiff calls the accused. They form the Water Court of Valencia, a millennial institution in Spain. In just a few minutes and without any paperwork, this tribunal settles irrigation conflicts that erupt in the fertile plain that surrounds Valencia, Spain’s third largest city, a Mediterranean region of orchards. UN cultural body UNESCO has included the court – which bills itself as “the oldest institution of justice in existence in Europe” — on its list celebrating the world’s “intangible cultural heritage” which deserves protection. The tribunal’s existence dates back at least to the 10th century when this region was ruled by Muslims and the Gothic cathedral where the tribunal meets today was a mosque. It deals with cases of stolen water, a precious resource in drought-prone Spain, or disagreements over the interpretation of rules managing the irrigation system. Disputes can happen at any time of the year but they are more frequent during droughts when special rules governing irrigation are imposed and “supervision is enforced to control the availability of water,” said historian Daniel Sala, an expert on the Water Court. One recent case was brought forward by Vicent Marti, who has operated an ecological farm for over 30 years. He turned to the tribunal after noticing that the water arriving at his farm was polluted with traces of cement and paint thrown into the irrigation system by workers renovating a neighbour’s house.

 

After hearing both sides, and a brief debate among the tribunal members, the president of the court announced that Marti’s neighbour was at fault. Following tradition, he indicated his acceptance of the ruling by saying “correct” and was later fined 2,000 euros ($2,285). “I felt bad reporting it because we are neighbours, but I did not have much choice,” Marti told AFP. His farm produces ecological produce, which is subject to strict quality controls, and the “survival” of his business was at stake, he added. The court in its current form is made up of eight members, all of them men, who are elected by the roughly 10,000 farmers who use the irrigation system set up in the plains around Valencia. Each member of the tribunal represents one of Valencia’s eight communities of irrigators, known as “acequias”, which grow vegetables and tubers, such as tiger nuts that are pounded to make horchata, a popular Spanish drink. The court meets every Thursday at noon outside the Door of the Apostles of Valencia’s cathedral, which houses a gold chalice said to be the one used by Jesus at the Last Supper. Its members wear a black robe similar to those used by judges but that only goes down to their waists. The proceedings, which are watched by a crowd of locals and tourists, are carried out in Valencian, the local language. All decisions are final and cannot be appealed. The tribunal’s rulings “have been respected by dictators, presidents, kings, everybody,” said Sala.

 

Two factors are threatening farming on the plains of Valencia and by extension the survival of the tribunal: the reduction in the amount of land that is farmed due to urbanization and the ageing of the population. Enrique Navarro, a 44-year-old farmer, criticizes the fact that the majority of tribunal members are over the age of 60. He says a “generational renewal” is needed so that the court “does not end up becoming a fossilized institution”. Of the hundreds of water disputes that arise each year, just 20-25 actually reach the tribunal. On some Thursdays no one appears at the door of the cathedral with a case. The crowds, which turn out to watch the proceedings held in the historic centre of Valencia, also dissuade many farmers from bringing forward a case. “For a labourer it is almost an offence to come here,” said Jose Antonio Monzo, who enforces irrigation rules at a community of irrigators called Quart. Enrique Aguilar, the vice president of the tribunal, said that 90 percent of all disputes are solved through mediation, sometimes just a few minutes before the tribunal’s weekly session. “We try to make it so nobody makes it here,” he said, in front of the cathedral door where the tribunal meets. And sometimes just the prospect of being brought before the tribunal can be enough to settle a dispute. “Out in the fields, the accused is proud, claims he is not at fault. But when he presents himself here, he asks for mediation,” added Manuel Ruiz, the president of the tribunal.

 

 

Warren Buffett donates $3.17 billion to Gates charity, four others

 

NEW YORK: Warren Buffett on Monday donated roughly $3.17 billion of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four family charities, his largest contribution in a more than decade-long plan to give away his fortune. The billionaire investor’s 12th annual donation to the five charities comprised 18.63 million Class “B” shares of Berkshire, valued at $170.25 each as of Monday’s market close. Berkshire said Buffett, 86, has made $27.54 billion in donations since 2006 to the five charities, including roughly $21.9 billion to the Gates Foundation. Buffett still owns about 17 percent of Berkshire, the Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate he has run since 1965, despite having donated more than 40 percent of his holdings. The Gates Foundation, which focuses on improving health, reducing poverty and aiding education, is receiving about $2.42 billion of Monday’s donations. Buffett also donated to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named for his late first wife, and the Howard G Buffett, Sherwood and NoVo Foundations, respectively overseen by his children, Howard, Susan and Peter. Following Monday’s donation, Buffet remained the world’s fourth-richest person, according to Forbes magazine. Before the donations were announced, Forbes estimated Buffett’s net worth at $76.3 billion, trailing Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates‘ $89.4 billion, Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos’ $84.8 billion, and Spanish retailing magnate Amancio Ortega’s $81.8 billion. Gates is a close friend of Buffett and a Berkshire director. Buffett typically reduces the number of shares he donates by 5 percent from the prior year. The charities usually sell the Berkshire shares to finance their activities, reflecting Buffett’s desire that his money be spent. Buffett also makes smaller donations to other charities.

 

 

Iraqi troops push to clear last Mosul ground of IS militants

 

 

MOSUL (IRAQ): Iraqi forces are pushing to retake the last patch of ground in Mosul where Islamic State militants are holding on to a tiny sliver of the Old City, west of the Tigris River, a day after the prime minister visited soldiers to congratulate his troops on the hard-fought battle. Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil of the Iraqi special forces says his men, closely backed by US-led coalition airstrikes, are continuing to advance and clear territory in the Old City on Monday. Iraqi commanders say they believe hundreds of IS fighters remain inside the neighborhood and are using their families — including women and children — as human shields. Iraqi forces launched the operation to retake Mosul last October and began the weeks-long push through the Old City district in June.


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