Monthly Archives: July 2018

News Flash – 31 July 2018

National News

 

 

Cash custodians held for stealing Rs. 43 Lakhs from ATM’s

 

 

Bengaluru: Two cash custodians with a private cash security company have been arrested for allegedly stealing money to the tune of Rs 43 lakh from ATMs over one and a half years. Police said the duo stole the cash from different ATMs using the code given them to fill the currency chest. They took away amounts ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 15,000. Madhu, 29, is from Mandya and Sunil Kumar, 25, is a resident of K R Pete. Police recovered Rs 2.5 lakh from them. Based on a complaint lodged by a staffer working with Secure Value, a cash management firm on Hosur Road, Madiwala police registered a case on July 22. “The accused stole small sums to avoid detection,” said a police officer. The theft came to light when the firm carried out an internal audit and discovered that Rs 43 lakh was missing. After checking, auditing staff found that the two accused were in charge of the codes, which were used to withdraw the cash, cops said. “The accused said they spent almost Rs 40 lakh on their lavish lifestyle, including visits to Goa,” police said.

 

 

Quota fire rages near Pune, 90 vehicles torched

 

Pune/Aurangabad: The industrial town of Chakan, 40km from Pune, which houses manufacturing plants of top automobile firms was held to ransom for five hours by rampaging Maratha protesters on Monday. Ninety vehicles, many of them public transport buses, were torched, a police station attacked and 10 cops injured in the rioting that disrupted traffic on Pune-Nashik highway. The violence came a day after a 35-year-old unemployed Aurangabad man and a Nanded villager ended their lives purportedly in support of the Maratha’s quota demand. Pramod Hore Patil, a resident of Aurangabad, had jumped in front of a train on Sunday. A graduate who’d given the MPSC exams many times, Patil put up a Facebook post at 2.30pm supporting the Maratha stir and at 4.50pm posted a selfie at Mukundwadi railway station. In his FB post he wrote, “Chala aaj ek Maratha jaatoy, pan kahi tari Maratha arakshanasathi kara, jai jijauaapla Pramod Patil (today one Maratha is leaving… but do something for Maratha reservation…).” He is survived by parents, wife, and two children.

 

In Dabhad (Nanded), Kachru Kalyane (42) hanged himself. He is survived by his mother, wife and 3 daughters. Nanded SP C Mina said, “We have found a note saying he ended his life in support of quota but we are trying to confirm its authenticity.” Tehsildar Arvind Narsikar told TOI the family had said Kalyane had been upset for days that he worked as waiter-cum-cook at a dhaba despite being qualified. Narsikar did not know Kalyane’s qualifications. Pune rural Dy. SP and 9 other cops were hurt in Chakan. Police said rioting began after a meeting of Maratha Mukti Morcha at 11am. SP Sandeep Patil said a probe indicated anti-social elements from neighbouring districts participated in the violence. “They had sharp weapons and fuel cans. It appears a conspiracy.” Dy. SP for Khed R Pathare said, “Some trouble-makers had swords.” Cops had to do lathicharge and burst teargas shells at many spots to disperse mobs.

 

 

The River Wild: Over 10,000 Evacuated

 

New Delhi: The water level in the Yamuna rose for the third straight day on Monday and touched 205.8 metres at the Old Yamuna Bridge, the highest mark reached so far this monsoon. With more being released from the Hathni Kund Barrage in Haryana, the Central Water Commission forecast a level of 206.5 metres by Tuesday evening, posing a serious threat to low-lying habitations in Delhi and Noida. Officials from Delhi’s flood and irrigation department said over 29,690 cusecs of water was released from Hathni Kund on Monday. In addition, there were showers on Sunday night contributing to the increased flow in the river. The Old Yamuna Bridge, called Loha Pul in local parlance, remained shut on Monday after being closed to traffic on Sunday. However, railway operations on the bridge were restored in the afternoon. “We will monitor the situation and stop operations again if required,” a railway official said. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that transport minister Kailash Gehlot would visit the people evacuated from low-lying areas amid criticism that the state government was not doing enough for the displaced population. His tweet said that Gehlot would “ensure proper arrangements”. A tragedy was averted near Shamshan Ghat in Burari in the evening when 15 people, who had not vacated their riverbank huts, got trapped in the rising waters. A call to the disaster management helpline saved their lives, and seven children, six women and two men were rescued.

 

“Coincidentally, the place where they were trapped was one of the 23 locations where mechanised boats had been deployed and a boat was immediately put out with four divers to assist the affected people,” said K Mahesh, district magistrate (East). By Monday evening, the government had shifted over 10,000 people and accommodated them in 1,150 tents. “We are arranging meals for them three times a day, and NGOs are reaching these locations with assistance. We have deployed 67 mechanised boats and more will be used if required,” a flood and irrigation official said. The National Disaster Relief Force and the Army are on standby. Further downstream, the Gautam Budh Nagar administration too issued an advisory asking residents in Kam Nagar, Badoli, Kampuxpur, Yaqubpur, Momnathan, Safipur and other villages to shift to safer places. Some low-lying areas have been already evacuated. District magistrate B N Singh said steps had been taken to prevent breaches, including placing sandbags at different points along the banks. Relief camps have been set up in Latifpur, Dharyara, Kasna, Badouli, Yakutpur and Kuleshra. Barriers have been erected to channel water away from residential areas. “Workers have also repaired the dams that had been affected after the recent rains,” said NK Lamba, executive engineer in the irrigation department. Despite the threat of flooding, many villagers are reluctant to vacate their homes. “People have belongings, cows and buffaloes and crops to protect. Officials have warned us of the rising waters, but we will leave our homes only if the situation demands,” insisted Ranjit Sharma, a resident of Gulawli village, which lies 500 metres from the Yamuna.

 

 

Bhikaji Cama metro station inundated days before opening

 

New Delhi: The concourse area of the underground Bhikaji Cama Place metro station, which is yet to be opened, was flooded after rain on Monday. Not only this, a large section of the pavement near an entry gate witnessed a massive cave-in. This is the second such incident within 10 days. Recently, Greater Kailash metro station also witnessed a major cave-in of a pavement and a section of the road near an entry gate after rain. Part of the 8.1km Durgabai Deshmukh South Campus to Lajpat Nagar section of Delhi Metro’s Pink Line, Bhikaji Cama Place station is scheduled to open in a week. The station is slated to be one of the busiest in the metro network due to its proximity to prominent commercial complex, government offices and hotels. The cave-in occurred near entry gate 3 on Netaji Nagar side of Ring Road. The cave-in has left a deep and wide crater between the service road and the entry gate leaving it impossible for anyone to bridge the gap. Even the platform was flooded knee-deep in rainwater. Sources said the water has also damaged some escalators, which got partially submerged.

 

A Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) spokesperson said, “Due to heavy rain on July 29 around midnight, the storm water drain running along Ring Road was completely inundated and there was reverse flow of excess water from it towards gate number 3 of Bhikaji Cama Place metro station. Due to this, the whole area around the entry, footpath and road got submerged in water. This resulted in settlement of the footpath around the entry gate. Repair work is in progress and is likely to be finished in the next two days”. Sources in DMRC said the storm water drain along Ring Road has been a major headache for the corporation’s engineers since the time of the construction of the station. “It’s a long drain with a width of seven metres. We had to divert the drain while construction was being carried out. We are not responsible for maintenance of the drain. Lack of its upkeep has resulted in inundation of the station and could pose a problem for us,” a DMRC official said on condition of anonymity.

 

 

Hit, shoot, run: Collection agents robbed of Rs. 40 lakhs

 

 

New Delhi: A group of miscreants shot at two cash collection agents in Wazirpur on Monday afternoon and took away their bag containing over Rs 40 lakh. The two men, Tejpal Singh and Rajkumar Bhaseen, worked for a private company in Nangloi and were going to a bank in their i20 to deposit the cash. Police said they were on the Wazirpur flyover when a Maruti Swift Dzire having four occupants hit their car from behind. The four accused men forced Singh, who tightly held onto the cash bag, and Bhaseen to get out of their car. After dragging them out, one of the accused tried to snatch the bag from Singh, but he resisted. The accused then shot at him. As Singh fell unconscious, the accused snatched the bag from him and ran towards his car. Another accused fired at Bhaseen and also ran towards the car.

 

Two of the accused got into their car, while the other two got into the i20 and drove away. They left the victims bleeding at the spot and abandoned the vehicle a few kilometres away. Police said they received a PCR call from a passerby at 12.37pm, informing them about the incident. Soon, a police team reached the spot and took them to a hospital. DCP (northwest) Aslam Khan said a team has been formed to track the accused men. The CCTV footage from the area is also being scanned to ascertain the sequence of events, police said. The abandoned i20 was also found. Both Singh and Bhaseen are undergoing treatment at Max hospital. One of them was shot in the neck, while the other one was shot in the abdomen. The accused men have not been identified yet, police said.

 

 

Swine flu alert in state, hospitals tighten vigil

 

Kolkata: Following the year’s first swine flu case, reported by The Times of India on Monday, the health department has sounded an alert. All health officials and hospitals across the city have been asked to look out for swine flu symptoms in patients and take precautionary measures. Director of health services Ajay Chakrabarty said screening of patients will be stepped up. “We have discussed the situation and steps are being taken. Now that the first case has been detected, we need to strengthen the vigil. The situation is under control,” said Chakrabarty. Experts said that since this is the swine flu season, the first case should be taken seriously. “In 2016, we had several deaths. Swine flu, or H1N1, is an air-borne infection which spreads fast and easily. In a crowded city like Kolkata, the cases could multiply in a matter of days,” warned AMRI Hospital consultant Debashish Saha. He added that crowded places like schools, colleges, auditoria, public transport and shopping malls were likely places where the virus could spread. “Children should be made to wear masks to schools. You can’t avoid every public place, so it’s necessary to be cautious,” said Saha.

 

The state had 130 swine flu cases in 2009 in what was a major outbreak around the country. More than 10 cases were reported in 2015. And last year, more than a hundred cases were reported from Bengal alone. Masks were not a fool-proof protection unless they were M95 masks, pointed out consultant Arindam Biswas. “Since swine flu is a droplet infection, it’s difficult to contain. So, diagnosis should happen and treatment must begin as early as possible,” he said. While Saha felt that preventive treatment may begin even before diagnosis, Biswas differed with him. “The principal drug for swine flu is Tamiflu and it should be used only after conformation of the virus’ presence,” he explained. However, Saha pointed out that it was necessary for those who had been exposed to swine flu patients to be careful.

 

 

Idukki dam: Orange alert issued as water level reaches 2,395 feet

 

 

Idukki, Kerala: The chief engineer of Kerala State Electricity Board (dam safety), Bibin Joseph, informed that water level in the Idukki dam reached 2,395ft at 9pm on Monday. This means that alert code has changed to orange. He said that red alert will be issued only when water level increases to 2,399ft on account of heavy rain. Residents living on the banks of the water flow path will be shifted only after the red alert is issued. Joseph added that a proper warning will be issued before shifting people. A few days ago, the Kerala government had taken a decision that water from the dam can be released before it reaches 2,400ft. Areas around Idukki, Cheruthony and Kulamavu dams received heavy rain since Monday morning. Due to this, water level in the reservoir rose steadily during the course of the day. The water level had reached 2,394.9ft by Monday evening. At the same time, district administration has intensified its preparation to open the shutters of Cheruthony dam. “Since water level reached 2,395ft, we issued the orange alert. However, residents in the area need not panic. The shutter opening time and trial run time will be decided with the cooperation of Idukki district administration,” said the chief engineer. Idukki collector Jeevan Babu K, Idukki MLA Roshy Augustine, ADM PG Radhakrishnan and other panchayats officials visited the water flow route from Cheruthony to Panamkutty on Monday. “Before we open the shutters of the dam, district administration will issue a message,” said the collector.

 

 

International News

 

 

Mystery unsolved: MH370 probe shows controls likely manipulated

 

 

Kuala Lumpur: Investigators released a report on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on Monday, saying the Boeing 777’s controls were likely deliberately manipulated to take it off course but they were not able to determine who was responsible. They had no conclusion about what happened aboard the plane that vanished with 239 people on board en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014. “The answer can only be conclusive if the wreckage is found,” Kok Soo Chon, head of the MH370 safety investigation team, said. On May 29, Malaysia called off a three-month search by US firm Ocean Infinity, which spanned 112,000 sq. km in the southern Indian Ocean and ended with no significant findings. It was the second major search after Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless A$200 million ($147.06 million) search across an area of 120,000 sq. km last year. Experts believe someone may have deliberately switched off MH370’s transponder before diverting it over the Indian Ocean. The last communication from the plane was from the Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah who signed off with “Good night, Malaysian three seven zero”, as the plane left Malaysia’s airspace. Kok said the investigators examined the history of the pilot and the first officer, and they were satisfied with their background and training and mental health. “We cannot exclude that there was an unlawful interference by a third party,” he said.


News Flash – 30 July 2018

National News

 

 

Hoax call: Security Guard turns a Security threat

 

 

Mumbai: A 21-year-old former security guard of a private firm was nabbed from near Mumbai Central railway station five hours after he allegedly warned the NSG of a chemical attack on the prime minister. The National Security Guards (NSG) control room in New Delhi received a call around 5.30 pm on Friday that “there will be chemical attack on the Prime Minister”. Using caller ID tracker, the NSG found that the call was made from Mumbai-based number and alerted its Mumbai unit and the city police. The investigators first headed to the Walkeshwar address used for procuring the SIM card. Through mobile phone location tracker, the investigators found that the caller was constantly on the move. Around 10.30 pm, when the tracker showed the phone’s location as Mumbai Central station, police rushed to the spot and zeroed in the phone carrier— Kashinath Mandal, a Jharkhand native-—when he was on his way to catch a train. Sources said Mandal initially tried to evade the police queries, but later said he made the call to “to create fear and communal unrest”.

 

Mandal told police he came to Mumbai seven months ago and was working as a security guard at a private firm. During his employment, he would stay at Wallkeshwar. He had quit his job two weeks ago and was planning to return to his home town. Police sources Mandal claimed he had got the NSG control room’s phone number through Google search. Mandal was placed under arrest after verification and a court has sent him in city police custody. The police have seized two mobile phones from him and are scanning their content. Investigators are trying to find out if he has links with any terror organisation or if someone helped him in making the phone calls. Mandal has been booked under section 505 (1) and (2) of the IPC which relate to making, publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report and statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes. The maximum sentence under these sections are jail term which may extend up to three years.

 

 

Gokhale bridge collapse: After housewife, 52-year-old CA dies

 

 

Mumbai: The collapse of Andheri’s Gokhale bridge on July 3 claimed its second victim on Sunday. Vile Parle resident Manoj Mehta (52), who was on ventilator from the day of the crash, succumbed to infection and multi-organ dysfunction. Taking the 7.28am Dahanu local train from Andheri was Mehta’s ritual for many years. On July 3, as the chartered accountant waited for his train on platform No. 8, concrete debris from the bridge collapse came crashing down on him. Mehta suffered critical injuries to the spine and was taken in for a surgery at Balabhai Nanavati Hospital in Vile Parle. His family shifted him there after initial treatment at the civic-run RN Cooper Hospital. He had also suffered injuries on the ribs, shoulder and lungs. COO of Nanavati Dr Rajendra Patankar said that the injury to his spine and other organs were grave. “He was on ventilator. His kidney functions had suffered too, making it necessary to put him on Continuous Renal Replacement Therapies, where dialysis is provided as a continuous 24-hour therapy,” he said. Mehta, however, developed infection following which he was kept under isolation in an ICU. “He was conscious at times as his brain functions were not affected but overall he remained critical throughout,” said Patankar.

 

Mehta was declared dead around 7.30pm, following which his body was sent for an autopsy. His younger brother and business partner Rajesh Mehta was inconsolable. “He put up a good fight but he couldn’t win it. The injuries were too severe. He never spoke after the collapse though there were fleeting moments when he was conscious and recognized us. That gave us hope,” he told TOI. The brothers jointly ran a construction company. He said his older brother handled the company’s finances and would always be the first one to reach their Palghar office. Mehta is survived by his wife and two daughters. With this death, the over bridge collapse destroyed two families. The first victim was Asmita Katkar (35) who left behind her six-year-old son Siddhesh and husband Lahu. The homemaker was returning after dropping Siddhesh to school when the bridge had collapsed. Three others who were injured in the collapse, friends Dwarka Prasad Sharma and Girdhari Singh; and Versova resident Haresh Koli, are on their way to recovery.

 

 

15k families affected as Yamuna flows above danger mark

People shift their belongings to a drier area as they evacuate the flooded Yamuna river bank in New Delhi.

 

 

New Delhi: The Yamuna water level remained above the danger mark on Sunday with deputy CM Manish Sisodia carrying out an inspection of the low-lying areas. The water level was recorded at 205.51m at 6pm on Sunday and 1,12,540 cusecs was released from the Hathni Kund barrage in the evening. The warning level for the Yamuna is 204m, while the danger mark is 204.83m. Meanwhile, Delhi Traffic Police on Sunday shut the Old Yamuna Bridge connecting north and east Delhi after an alert by Delhi Disaster Management Authority. Sisodia took stock of the ongoing evacuation work in low-lying areas around Akshardham and Pandav Nagar. The evacuation work had started on Saturday when the water level reached 205.3 metres at 7pm. Officials said nearly 15,000 families have been affected and they would be accommodated in corporation schools. Both the education department and municipal corporations have been asked to provide space. CM Arvind Kejriwal held an emergency meeting on Saturday, directing all departments to stay on high alert and evacuate people from low-lying areas. The flood and irrigation department said the water level was steady at 6pm, but it is expected to rise to about 205.65m by Monday. “With more water set to be released from Hathni Kund barrage, the water level may touch 206.6m by 7pm on Tuesday,” an official said. Meanwhile, a 12-year-old boy died while his 10-year-old sister was grievously injured when a portion of their house collapsed on Sunday in Dabri Extension in southwest Delhi.

 

 

In rain-hit Bihar, fish go for a swim in ICU

Water enters a ward of Nalanda Medical College and Hospital after rains in Bihar.

 

 

Patna: Doctors, nurses and patients had to wade through knee-deep water and fish swam in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the state run Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) here on Sunday, which was flooded due to incessant rain lashing the capital city. According to hospital officials, water had entered the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the medicine department and as a result, patients had to be shifted to a different ICU. “We have shifted patients admitted in medicine department’s ICU to the surgery department’s ICU. Besides, efforts are on to pump out the water,” NMCH superintendent Chandrashekhar said. As the hospital is located in a low lying area, water has entered its various wards due to heavy showers, the superintendent added. While television channels beamed the shocking footage of fish swimming inside the ICU, the family members of patients as well as some of the hospital staffers were left fuming. One of the nurses at the ICU alleged even snakes, scorpions and leeches could be found in the water.

 

 

Theft probe opens lid on toddy binge at Gandhi

 

Hyderabad: Investigation into a mobile theft case at Gandhi Hospital blew the lid on happenings at the state-run health facility. Liquor and gutka are smuggled into wards, while it was found that an in-patient turned-thief left the hospital and returned after a week. Apart from free flow of country liquor and toddy, a huge quantity of gutka packets (100-200 packets) were being seized every day at the hospital. Investigating the mobile theft in the gastroenterology ward, the hospital authorities began a manhunt for the thief and, to their shock, found that the culprit was an in-patient behind the thefts. Incidentally, during the search, the patient, who was caught on tape lifting another phone in another ward, had left the hospital for a few days and then returned. On receiving the complaint, CCTV footage of the ward was scanned and a patient was found to be the culprit. “Our security staff kept an eye on him. He was followed to the fourth floor, where CCTV footage showed him stealing another phone from a ward.

 

Our security staff swung into action and tried to catch him, but he managed to slip out of the hospital,” Gandhi Hospital superintendent Dr P Shravan Kumar told TOI. The patient, however, returned last week to the hospital late in the night. The patient was finally caught and handed over to the Chilkalguda police. After the incident, security personnel were directed to frisk every individual entering the hospital building and check their bags too. “During these checks, we discovered that they were sneaking in gutka and liquor,” he added. In fact, consumption of gutka by attendants at the hospital was known with tell-tale signs on the walls. However, the huge quantity of gutka being brought into the hospital surprised hospital authorities. “We finds 25-30 packets from an attendant and on days it is a pile after we confiscate the packets,” a security guard stationed at the hospital said.

 

 

In season’s first, city techie tests positive for swine flu

 

Kolkata: The city’s first confirmed case of swine flu of 2018 was reported on Saturday after a software engineer tested positive for the H1N1 influenza virus. His minor child is being treated for suspected swine flu. The man is admitted in Fortis Hospital and his child is in Apollo. Authorities at Fortis told TOI on Sunday, “We have come across the first swine flu case this year. Timely intervention has been done and the patient is doing well.” Though relatives said the child, too, had tested positive for the H1N1 virus late on Saturday — hours after she was admitted with high fever — Apollo Hospital authorities said they were awaiting final reports and the child was being treated for suspected swine flu. TOI is withholding the names of the patients on request, even as doctors in the two hospitals agreed that the swine flu outbreak should be made known in public interest and for spreading awareness. The techie was admitted to hospital with high fever, lung congestion and body ache. Hours after he tested positive for swine flu, his child developed high temperature and was advised immediate hospitalisation by the family pediatrician. “The father was already down with swine flu and we were told not to take chances. So we got the child admitted immediately,” a relative said. The Bengal government is yet to notify an H1N1 alert since the detections have taken place over the weekend. But some doctors have already started cautioning their patients, referring to standard WHO guidelines, telling them that a vast majority of people could be vulnerable to H1N1, which spreads easily from person to person.

 

 

Rain reopens potholes on city speed corridors

 

Kolkata: It has not even been a week since repairs were carried out on the city’s speed corridors and flyovers, and the craters — as deep as two feet in places — have resurfaced. Commuting via these roads has become slow and bone rattling, and it might get worse. Since last Monday, the various custodians of the city roads — Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority for EM Bypass and Public Works Department for Taratala and Mejerhat flyovers — had begun mending the gaping potholes and craters by filling them with modified bitumen fragments. However, the patchwork has been washed away after a spell of heavy rain, exposing the potholes again. Driving on these roads has become more dangerous now since the vehicles skid on the loose gravel. “Watching the authorities repairing the stretch had given us a sense of relief. But now the situation has worsened as the craters have resurfaced and the road has become so uneven and slippery that it is difficult to apply brakes without skidding,” said Avishek Dasgupta, a resident of Behala who regularly uses the Majerhat and Taratala flyovers. Those manning the traffic said the potholes and craters were slowing down cars on the flyovers. “The road beneath is in an equally bad shape because of the ongoing Metro construction. When the patchwork was undertaken, we had a smooth ride for two days, but the craters have returned to slow down the traffic flow,” said a sergeant posted near Ajanta Cinema on Diamond Harbour Road. The officer added that during the peak hours in the evening, it takes vehicles over 30 minutes to cross the 1km stretch between Burdwan Road and Ajanta Cinema.

 

The situation is similar on Bypass. “We had repaired the stretch between Panchannagram and VIP Bazar last Tuesday and by Saturday, the craters have resurfaced. We don’t know what to do,” said a supervisor overseeing the patchwork on Sunday. “I was riding my bike to Sonarpur last Friday when it skidded on a slippery stretch and fell in a large crater near Ruby Hospital. Luckily, I had my helmet on. However, I was injured and doctors have advised bed rest for a week,” said Santanu Biswas, a private bank executive. KMDA officials blamed the incessant rain and the Metro construction for the potholes reappearing on the repaired stretches. “The road surface is getting damaged more near the places where Metro work is going on. We are doing patchwork at the damaged places whenever we can — following the modified cold mix road surfacing process. But with the Metro construction work on, we are not being allowed to cordon off lanes and divert traffic so that the mixture can solidify and hold on to the ground for a longer period,” said an official. PWD officials also blamed the rain and heavy traffic flow for the resurfacing of craters. “We are trying our best with patchwork repairs, but the heavy rain over the past few days, as well as the steady traffic movement, have made it difficult for any patchwork to stay on. However, once the rain stops, we will take up full-fledged repair work,” an official said.

 

 

Airports’ service standards on radar

 

New Delhi: The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) will soon check if big Indian airports are meeting the promised service standards in terms of maximum time taken for various processes like check-in, security check and immigration. AERA, which fixes tariffs for airports that handle over 15 lakh flyers a year, will link meeting of service standards to tariff determination and penalise laggards while rewarding effective airports. The authority’s concern stems from the fact that in peak travel hours, most Indian airports resemble overcrowded railway stations and are severely congested. Both private metro airport operators and state-owned Airports Authority of India have failed to augment infrastructure as air travel exploded in last few years. Serpentine queues are a common sight at almost all places — right from terminal entry to check-in, security check and immigration — with airlines routinely telling passengers to report to airports early to factor in the rush. “There are set service standards for airports. We are going to appoint consultants to measure the actual conditions at the airports vis-a-visa the standards. We will link meeting of standards to tariff determination and airports which do not meet the same will be penalised,” AERA chairman S Machendranathan said. While measuring service standards is AERA’s mandate, the agency has now its hands full with tariff orders as traffic growth has meant many airports fall under its ambit for tariff determination.

 

 

110 feet-high bridge submerged as Gandhaiyaaru river swells

Villagers said that water entered the bridge on Friday.

 

 

Coimbatore: The residents of Lingapuram in Sirumugai forest range here had to depend on coracles to cross Gandhaiyaaru river after the 110ft-high bridge that connects the village with Gandhavayal, Mokkamedu, Alur, Melur and Keezhur in Mettupalayam taluk was submerged in water released from Pillur dam. However, some people, including schoolchildren, were seen using the 300m-long bridge by wading through knee-deep water. TOI had reported about the villagers being anxious over the rising water level. Villagers said that water entered the bridge on Friday and, by Sunday, rose three feet. “Currently, the bridge’s side walls are visible. But if water rises two feet more, the entire bridge will be under water,” said M Ammasaikutti, a farmer from Lingapuram. People from neighbouring villages have to go through Lingapuram to reach schools and workplaces. “While most of the people used coracles, some people crossed the bridge by wading through thigh-deep water. There is also another path through the forest. But it becomes inaccessible during the rainy season,” said Ammasaikutti. Local residents said that the Bhavani Sagar catchment areas usually get water only in August.

 

 

International News

 

 

US lawmakers protest deal allowing free distribution plans for 3D printed guns

 

 

Washington: Dozens of US legislators are demanding that the Trump administration explain a recent agreement to allow the free distribution of plans for using 3D printers to make plastic handguns that will be easy to hide and almost impossible to control. After a legal battle, the government reached agreement last month with Cody Wilson, a gun rights advocate from Texas. He successfully argued that the US Constitution’s Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to private gun ownership, should extend to a person’s right to make guns at home — uncontrolled by authorities, since they will bear no serial number. Dozens of Democrats in both the US House of Representatives and the Senate have decried the settlement and are demanding an explanation from the President Trump’s administration. The agreement between the state department, which controls the exportation of American arms, and Wilson’s Defense Distributed (DD) was reached on June 29.

 

Wilson is due to receive $40,000 in damages and interest. The DD website invites anyone interested to download the programme to make so-called “ghost guns” starting August 1, when “the age of the downloadable gun formally begins”. That means anyone with a 3D printer — which costs around $2,000 — will be able starting next week to make plastic-bodied guns at home for a few hundred dollars each. Security experts fear the guns may be able to evade detection by the metal detectors used in many public buildings and airports. But gun enthusiasts say that without some metal parts, the guns will be unreliable — and might even explode in a user’s face. But five US senators, all Democrats, have denounced the agreement as “stunning” and “puzzling,” and have demanded, in an open letter, that the government provide a written explanation of its thinking. Forty-two Democratic members of the House of Representatives shared their own concerns.


News Flash – 27 July 2018

National News

 

 

When Koparkhairane cowered on a terrifying evening

 

Navi Mumbai: A day after a stone-pelting mob ran amok unchallenged by the law enforcement agencies for over an hour, residents of the Teen Taaki area in Koparkhairane are still in shock. Tension was high even on Thursday, a day after a bandh called by the Marathi Kranti Morcha, leading to schools in the area remaining shut. “It was a terrifying Wednesday evening,” said Aslam Mulani, resident of the Tridal Ex-Servicemen’s Cooperative Housing Society. The locality witnessed the mob systematically target vehicles, shops, restaurants and even housing societies without any resistance. The attack, the worst in Mumbai and its satellite cities during the bandh, is all the more shocking since the area targeted is less than a kilometer from the Koparkhairane police station. “I personally made several calls to the police emergency number 100 and also to various local police officials to help us. All we got was that they were busy at the D’Mart junction (about a kilometer from Tridal) of Koparkhairane,” said Mulani. The group of over 50 men carrying stones poured down the main road around 6.30pm, over three hours after the bandh had been called off in Mumbai amid reports of violence. “Many had masked their faces and were randomly attacking buildings and vehicles. They made three rounds along the main road and a few lanes to wreak damage,’’ said Babu Shetty, one of the owners of Spices Restaurant, whose glass windows were shattered. “We had earlier seen such violence only in J&K; now it is happening in ‘KK’ (Koparkhairane) as well,” Shetty added dryly. The mob dispersed on its own around an hour later, indicating the hooligans were working to a plan. The residents said the police came well after they had gone, to assess the damage.

 

They are irked with the police, who, they said, failed miserably to control the mob. Now, they are demanding the miscreants be identified from videos and CCTV footage, arrested and booked under stringent laws. Sixty-five-year-old Noorjehan Shaikh, cowering in the living room of her first-floor flat at Tridal society as the mob rampaged, recalled that a stone hit their window with a thud. “My husband, Dawood Shaikh, who is bedridden, was alarmed. We had locked our building gate, but the mob was trying to break into our complex. They were throwing stones. Everybody was very worried. I was extremely tense because of my husband’s condition and felt helpless.’’ Sitting Shiv Sena Corporator Shivram Patil too faced the mob’s brunt. His ground-floor office was badly damaged. “Five of my vehicles have been damaged. In the entire area, I feel more than 80-90 cars have been damaged. A local youth standing outside my office was hit on the head with a stone and had to be rushed to hospital,’’ said Patil. He received 10 stitches. Residents across the satellite city were united in their anger that a handful of miscreants had been allowed to hold Navi Mumbai to ransom. “Innocent people were at the receiving end for no fault of theirs. Public property was damaged by hooligans… The perpetrators should be brought to book,” said activist Santush Patil. Srinivas Shetty, an Airoli resident, missed his flight to Hyderabad on Wednesday. “I missed the flight, and the rasta roko was led by some known faces, like former Corporator. They should be punished,” he said.

 

TIMES VIEW: Police may have been ordered by the government to go easy on these protestors bearing in mind the political sensitivities around the agitation. But that still does not absolve the law and order machinery for its slow-footed and deficient response to the vandalism and arson perpetrated during the stir. What prevented officials from deploying more personnel to protect public property, especially in areas where the violence continued even after the Maratha Morcha organisers called off the bandh.

 

 

Rain leaves gaping holes in Ghaziabad

 

Ghaziabad: As many as 96 flats in two housing societies in Vasundhara were evacuated on Thursday after a major cave-in washed away a portion of a road and left a 30 feet deep by 20 feet wide crater. Residents panicked after the cave-in extended right up to the boundary walls of Vartalok and Pragya Kunj housing societies. Raj Kumar Tiwari, who lives on the ground floor of Vartalok society, said, “The cave-in happened a few metres away from my flat. The sight was frightening – I could see water gushing into the crater that had been created and I started shouting impulsively”. Recalling the sequence of events, Tiwari said, “At 8.30am, I was getting ready for office when I heard a thundering sound. I rushed out and saw the boundary wall of my society suspended as the ground below disappeared… Beyond the boundary wall, where once a road had been, there was nothing”. Another resident Vikas Tomar, who lives on the ground floor of the same society, said, “I ran to the terrace to get a clear view and what I saw sent shudders down my spine. There was no road and in its place, was a massive opening… I quickly ran down and started shouting ‘get out of the house’ and my family and others soon joined me”. Residents crowded outside their buildings and stood guard, warning others to not get close to the cave-in site. Soon afterwards, officials with the district administration cordoned off all roads leading to the cave-in site and advised residents to not go inside their flats. Police vans were stationed at all entry points.

 

Himsanshu Gautam, ADM (city), said, “As a precautionary measure, we evacuated two blocks including 32 flats in Pragya Kunj society and four blocks including 64 flats in Vartalok society. A team of CRRI has been summoned to carry out a safety audit of the buildings after which residents will be allowed to go inside their flats”. Meanwhile, residents have been forced out in the open with their families, including children. Some of them have sought refuge in neighbors’ houses but others have packed their cars with their belongings and left for relatives’ houses. Lal Chand, who lives on the fourth floor of the society, said, “The area was cordoned off and we are not being allowed to go inside our flats. We have no idea where we will spend the night. I am planning to move to my relative’s house in Delhi.” Roop Kishore, a resident of the neighbouring Pragya Kunj society, said, “There are close to 120 anxious residents loitering around the society”. On the reason behind the cave-in, Gautam said that some residents had dug up a 4000 square metre vacant plot, creating a 30 feet deep pit, to channelise rain water. “Earthing pillars should have been constructed around the plot to arrest the loose soil from sliding into the pit but the pillars were absent which led to the cave-in,” he said, adding that the area was under the supervision of UP Housing Board and the administration would be issuing a notice to the board shortly. Superintendent engineer of Uttar Pradesh Housing Board KA Singhal said, “The land in question is currently under litigation and belongs to a builder. He should have taken care to fill the vacant plot which was dug up.”

 

 

Offering help, gang duped 300 ATM users; 2 held

 

 

New Delhi: A gang of cheats has been busted by the crime branch for duping at least 300 people by swapping their ATM cards while pretending to help them withdraw money. Cops have recovered 17 used cards and some blank debit cards from the accused. The arrested men have been identified as Mohammad Arif and Sameer. The police had received a tip-off that the accused would come to Azadpur to exchange ATM cards, after which a trap was laid and the accused were arrested. The accused told police that they would target ATMs in isolated locations and wait for elderly or uneducated men to arrive. While one of them would note down the ATM pin of the target, the other would engage the victim in a conversation and exchange their card with a blank one. Arif was born in a poor family and studied till class XII. He joined the gang to earn easy money. Sameer was also born in a poor family and is a drug addict. He joined the gang to fund his addiction.

 

 

Nothing will escape the eye of this baggage scanner at metro station

 

New Delhi: Screening of baggage at metro stations will soon be more secure and thorough even as the checks become faster. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is installing new state-of the-art baggage screening machines at metro stations. These machines have next-generation features, such as explosives and narcotics detection and a camera that keeps a watch on who is keeping a baggage in the scanner and who is taking it out. The new screening machines will make the process of baggage security checks faster, thanks to its high-speed scanning and a new type of conveyor belt, which is inclined, as compared to the straight belts in the existing machines. DMRC has installed a prototype of the new baggage machine at Barakhamba Road station, one of the busiest in the metro network. “The new machine is developed for trial purpose by M/s ECI Rapiscan as per the inputs provided by the security wing of DMRC and Central Industrial Security Force, based on their experience of functioning of such machines in past ten years or so at metro stations,” a DMRC spokesperson said. “These machines are being provided with features, which are more passenger and CISF friendly, and based on its performance and feedback, the old machines may be replaced with this make,” he added. The average life of a baggage scanning machine is around ten years and DMRC plans to replace the old ones in phases.

 

The feature-heavy machine also has a camera with a 360-degree view and the feed of which is monitored in real time. Through the camera, CISF would be able to check if the passenger, putting a baggage for scanning, is the same person who retrieves it after scanning. Apart from detecting firearms, the new machine can also detect explosives and as soon as it does so, an alert will be generated. Unlike the present machines, the new ones can detect narcotics too. “The new machines are sleek and take up less space than our existing baggage screening machines,” the spokesperson said. They also have extra-long ‘counters’ or rollers, which helps in accommodating more baggage when there is a rush of passengers. It also has an auto belt stop mechanism in case something suspicious is detected while scanning. At metro stations, oversized baggage often gets stuck in screening machines and damages them. The new machines come with in-built plastic baggage stoppers, which prevent oversized baggage from entering the scanner. Once DMRC and CISF are satisfied with the performance of the new machine and perhaps feel the need for more customization, DMRC will float tenders to buy these machines at a large scale and gradually install them across the network.

 

 

Roads vanish under water as monsoon changes gear

 

Kolkata: It was a night Brahmapur resident Dipak Guha won’t forget for the rest of his life. On Wednesday, he first lost his wife and to add to his trauma, he then had to face unforeseen challenges to cremate her body. The hearse he had called for refused to drive down to his house, citing a broken road and waterlogging. Guha, with the help of locals, carried his wife’s body on a stretcher for around 1km to reach the hearse. Local CPM councillor Chayan Bhattacharya on Thursday came down heavily on the civic inaction in providing relief to thousands of people residing in and around Garia. “Guha had contacted me, requesting to send a hearse to his place. But the driver flatly refused to take the van to the area as the road was dug up and inundated. Nobody knows when the ongoing KEIP scheme will come to an end,” Bhattacharya fumed. He was referring to the incomplete drainage upgrade programme undertaken six months ago under the Kolkata Environment Improvement Project (KEIP) and funded by the Asian Development Bank. Bhattacharya’s disgust was shared by Left Front councilors representing large areas in Behala. Speaking at KMC’s monthly meeting at the civic headquarters, Ratna Roy Majumdar, the opposition leader in the KMC, put the blame on an incomplete KEIP scheme. “The entire project, which was supposed to take care of the failing drainage network, has come to a halt. A reputable contractor has backed out of the project, leaving roads in a battered condition. The results have been obvious. More than 3 lakh people are bearing the brunt of severe waterlogging during the monsoon,” Roy Majumdar alleged.

 

Tarak Singh, mayor-in-council member overseeing the KMC drainage department, conceded that delay in implementing the KEIP in Behala has led to a collapse of the drainage system in some areas. However, he assured that the residents would not have to go through the ordeal next year. “It is true that residents of eight wards have no respite from waterlogging as the progress of KEIP has been slow. Some of the worst hit pockets in Behala include Silpara, Dakshin Behala, Becharam Chatterjee Street, Biren Roy Road (west), Parnasree and Sarsuna, among others,” he said. Mayor Sovan Chatterjee echoed that the progress of the modernization project had been slow due to non-completion of a drainage pumping station. “We have been closely monitoring the construction of the drainage pumping station near Joka and functioning of two other pumping stations close to Beghor canal and Behala Flying Club. We are confident that we will sort out the issues soon,” Chatterjee said. Besides large-scale waterlogging in Behala, Kidderpore, Watgunge, several areas in central and north Kolkata also went under water on Thursday. These areas include Camac Street, Loudon Street, Thanthania, Muktarambabu Street and MG Road, among others. The stretch between Science City and Topsia also got submerged due to a non-functioning drainage system. However, storm water receded after the rain stopped on Thursday.

 

 

2 rob trader of Rs.15L diamond Jewellery at Knifepoint

 

 

Chennai: Two bike-borne men robbed a textile merchant of diamond jewellery worth Rs.15 lakhs at knifepoint on Poonamallee High Road on Wednesday night. Devadas, 48, of Anna Nagar East, who owns a textile shop in Broadway, had gone to a club along with his brother Ram and friend Vinoth Kumar. The men were carrying a bag of diamond jewellery worth Rs.15 lakhs that was delivered to them from Surat on Tuesday for the wedding of Devadas’ niece. When they were returning to Devadas’ house in Chinthamani in an autorickshaw, two men on a motorbike intercepted, snatched the bag at knifepoint and escaped. Police suspect the robbers to have followed them knowing they were carrying valuables, after an insider alert. Based on a complaint, police are skimming through the CCTV footage for leads.

 

 

International News

 

 

Man triggers blast near US embassy in Beijing, hurt

 

 

Beijing: A Chinese man set off a small explosive outside the US embassy in Beijing on Thursday, sending smoke into the air and injuring his hand before security officials rushed to the scene and took him into custody. Police said that the explosion was caused by “a firework device”, but the US embassy described it as “a bomb” and the perpetrator as a “bomber” in a statement. Police said a 26-year-old with the surname Jiang from China’s inner Mongolia region triggered the device just outside the boundary wall at the southeast corner of the US embassy compound. The spot is where visa seekers usually queue for application forms. It is not clear how the man managed to dodge government security cameras as well as CCTV cameras of the US embassy. Chinese authorities ruled out the possibility of a terrorist strike. Officials hinted that the man may have had personal reasons for the attack. “Other than the bomber, no one else was injured and there was no damage to embassy property,” the US embassy said. In another incident, police detained a woman who doused herself with gasoline in a suspected self-immolation attempt outside the embassy, reported the state-backed Global Times. The paper did not clarify if the two incidents were linked.


News Flash – 26 July 2018

National News

 

 

Police chowky & cars torched, 75 vehicles damaged in rioting

 

Mumbai: The bandh called by the Maratha Kranti Morcha may not have caused much disruption in Mumbai, but it resulted in largescale violence and arson in Navi Mumbai and Thane. The violence in Kalamboli and Koparkhairane, in particular, in Navi Mumbai continued till late evening, despite the umbrella organisation of Maratha groups having called off its shutdown at 3pm. A mob attacked a police chowky in Koparkhairane and damaged furniture. Earlier in the day, on the Sion-Panvel highway, near Kalamboli, agitators torched a police jeep and damaged a riot control van. Police opened fire in the air as stone-pelting protesters blocked traffic on the Pune Expressway. Cops also used teargas and lathicharge to disperse a mob at Nitin junction in Thane which, armed with rods, was intimidating motorists and forcibly emptying buses and auto rickshaws. Crowds burnt tyres at traffic junctions and damaged vehicles in Vashi, Ghansoli, Airoli, Kamothe and Kharghar in Navi Mumbai. Though life in Mumbai’s suburbs was affected to some extent, south Mumbai was largely unaffected. At Mankhurd, a mob hurled Molotov cocktails at a BEST bus, burning its seats, and breaking its panes and the windscreen, sources said. Nobody was hurt. In Mumbai, schools and colleges remained open and offices saw full attendance. However, children were asked to get off a school bus in Koparkhairane, and another school with branches in Gorai and Kandivli was shut after its buses were stopped and drivers threatened.

 

 

Flood claims rise, insurers levy higher premiums in low-lying areas

 

Mumbai: On the penultimate day of August last year, a sudden downpour caused the Dahisar River to overflow. The river broke through the wall of the nearby Shantivan multi-storey complex, swamped its line of ground-floor shops and restaurants, and drowned parked cars. It also carried away the neighbourhoods Ganpati. The damage was almost as bad as it had been in the 2005 floods. Society members were thankful their building was insured. But when the time for claims came, they were shocked —only the structure was covered, not its contents. In Europe and the US, flood damage to homes and businesses are mostly covered by insurance. But the scenario is quite the opposite in Asia, where natural hazard exposure is high but insurance penetration is among the lowest in the world. Just 11% of the losses in Mumbai’s 2005 floods were covered by insurance. Insurers attribute the low numbers to lack of awareness and to cultural factors like the tradition of relying on family and friend networks during times of hardship. Or even, to what surveyor Sarabjit Singh Bright called “a habit of not thinking about the future”. That may change if natural calamities increase. Insurers are seeing flood claims rise and fall reflecting the recent spate of cyclones and floods. Residential flood claims peaked in 2015 for ICICI Lombard, probably because of the Chennai floods. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, on the other hand, is seeing a consistent rise in flood claims. These accounted for 47% of all claims made under its Standard Fire and Special Perils Policy.

 

Mumbai had the highest percentage of flood claims among five major cities in 2017, said Bajaj. Flood claims in the city have tripled in the past four years, said the company. The absolute number of claims may not run very high. Nevertheless, they reveal something about the calculus of risk, tolerance and loss in flood-prone Mumbai. For one, insurers often see a spike in enquiries from home owners immediately after a calamity. “But once the fear passes, they forget,” said KG Krishnamoorthy Rao, CEO and MD of Future General India Insurance. “Even if they take a policy, they’ll forget to renew the next year”. Given low penetration and high competition—there are some 25 private insurers and several public ones—one might think that insurance would be a buyers’ market. But that’s not the case in a chronically flooded city. Insurers have their own flood maps and revise them frequently with field visits, said Sasikumar Adimadu, chief technical officer at Bajaj Allianz General Insurance. Insurers charge higher premiums in low-lying areas or try to avoid them entirely. One way of doing that is to name such an astronomical premium that “they will run away”, said an agent. Premiums for low-lying areas can be 15-40% higher. No-go areas include flood prone Bhiwandi and Gandhi Market at King’s Circle. In the case of Bhiwandi, large companies with bank loans will pay high premiums for the mandatory insurance. In Gandhi Market, however, shopkeepers must go to a public insurer if they want a policy. Few do, they said, because of the hassle of getting claims settled.

 

One problem, says surveyor Bright, is that people don’t pay attention to policy details at the time of signing up. That’s what happened to Shantivan in Borivali East. Former society chairman Gajanan Pednekar said they discovered too late that their policy did not cover the lift or motor. The society ended up paying Rs 75,000 for repairs. Insurance is going to be important in future, says Archana Patankar, an economist who has studied flood loss in the city. For now, many small enterprises simply build flood risk into their business model. “Flooding is here to stay,” Patankar said, “The only question is how much flooding can you tolerate?”. That calculus is evident at Masrani Industrial Estate in Kurla, near the Mithi River. The Masrani family’s auto-component manufacturing unit is routinely flooded in the monsoon, thanks to its low-lying ground and the area’s garbage-clogged drains. After 26/7, the unit was shut for a month and the company filed a Rs 60 lakh claim. It took a year to settle and their premiums skyrocketed. Now, the Masranis don’t claim smaller, annual flood losses. They’ve placed their machinery on a platform and raised the height of the managers’ office. Everyone works in gumboots. “And sometimes,” says Ravi Masrani, “there’s nothing you can do but wait for the rain to calm down and take the day’s loss”.

 

 

Short-staffed cybercrime squad saddled with a barrage of cases

 

Bengaluru: Human resources at the city cybercrime police station are being stretched to the limit with each of its 21 personnel handling at least one fresh case every day. The station, which began operations in May 2017, has received 4,423 criminal cases and 4,759 non-cognizable ones till June 30 this year, according to police statistics. This means it gets an average of 21 complaints every day. The police station, located on the premises of the police’s commissioner’s office on Infantry Road, has one inspector, two sub-inspectors, three assistant sub-inspectors, three head constables and 12 constables on its rolls. What’s worse, it has only one official vehicle — a Mahindra Bolero jeep. “Most of the time, the jeep is used to ferry an accused to court/prison. Officers have to use other transport modes like cabs, autos, Metro or private vehicles to go around the city for investigation,” a staffer rued. The staff shortage is reflecting on the sleuths’ performance. An abysmal 8.5% of the cognizable criminal cases have been cracked till now — 300 in 2017 and 75 in the first six months of 2018. In the first 14 months of the station’s existence, cybercrime police have arrested 93 accused: 35 in 2017 and 58 in the first half of 2018. Station personnel say they put in at least 13 hours of work every day. “Cybercrime investigation is different as we have to approach third parties like social media entities, banks, cyber cafes and private individuals on a regular basis.

 

Also, we depend only on the internet, computer and other devices used in the crime to gather evidence. This kind of investigation, involving more machines than humans, takes its own time. On an average, we need at least 40 days to ensure that a case reaches its logical conclusion,” the officer explained. “We need more staff. Logically speaking, at least three personnel, including an inspector, are required to handle 50 cases at a time. There should be separate staff to receive complaints and register cases. Field officers, who work on cases and carry out the investigation, shouldn’t have to double as receptionists,” said another officer. This is the only station that exclusively deals with cybercrime. Most police stations forward cybercrime complaints to this station since it’s technically equipped to handle them. Criminal cases are registered in case of complainants getting affected, physically or financially, while non-cognizable reports are registered in cases where there are threats issued and inducements offered without anyone falling victim to them. Financial frauds that go beyond Rs 50 lakh in case of debit/credit cards and Rs 1 crore in case of online transactions are forwarded to the cybercrime station under the CID.

 

 

Now, fly out of Bengaluru airport easily if you have only a handbag

EASY AND FAST: India’s first express security check facility for domestic passengers was started at Hyderabad airport about a year ago.

 

 

New Delhi: Domestic flyers travelling with just handbags may soon be able to go straight to security checkpoints at major airports. Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has asked large airports to have “express security check facility” for such passengers to reduce congestion at check-in and frisking areas. A senior CISF official said, “The country’s first express security check facility for domestic passengers travelling with just hand baggage was started at Hyderabad airport about a year ago. An enclosure with three pre-embarkation security check (PESC) facilities with one booth for women and five for men was placed close to departure gate number 1”. Enthused by the result, the security force now wants similar facilities at other large airports. “The load on check-in area can be reduced as passengers with hand baggage and with printed boarding cards can straightaway go to a dedicated PESC. This will reduce waiting time for passengers in other security hold areas,” said the official. A spokesperson of Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) said, “The security infrastructure at IGI is adequate to handle the current passenger traffic. On average, a passenger takes only 1.2 minutes to clear the security check. These efficiencies have been achieved through regular monitoring and cooperation from CISF.

 

DIAL is taking into consideration all proactive measures in the future terminal design, which can further enhance passenger experience and throughput”. Severe congestion at PESC is one of the main points identified by CISF that did not see capacity expansion at choked Indian airports even as traffic grew manifold in the recent past. It is now pushing for hi-tech automatic tray retrieval system (ATRS) or hand baggage belts at security checkpoints. “We are asking airports to have ATRS that are able to scan boarding cards of passengers when they put their bags in trays for scanning. Handbags that have been cleared will reach the other side to be picked by passengers after they have been frisked. With boarding cards scanned, our staff will know who the bags that need further checks belong to and they will be called for opening them,” said the official. While CISF is pushing for these changes inside terminals, passengers will soon notice a change when they alight from their vehicles outside. The number of sniffer dogs is going to be increased substantially at terminal entry points at all airports, beginning with the large ones.

 

 

40 more spots to get speed cameras

 

Kolkata: The police have identified 40 spots where they want to put up the specialized Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras that can register speeding and simultaneously generate traffic chalan. These spots are likely to cover some of the most accident-prone stretches of the city like Basanti Highway, Central Garden Reach Road, Lake Gardens and Diamond Harbour Road and some with heavy traffic like BT Road and EM Bypass. The thrust will be to cover the new areas of Kolkata, especially on the fringes,” an officer said. Lalbazar sources said tenders for the installations have been floated based on two requirements – to record the volume of traffic at a particular crossing and to identify speeding vehicles across the city. “Many drivers know there are three ANPR systems on Maa flyover and are aware that they need to control speed. There are only a couple of those on BT Road. We want them all over the city so that motorists think twice before breaking the speed limit that will attract penalty,” he said The tender document specified that vehicles going up to a speed of 120kmph will be detected by these cameras. “The set up will generate citation notices through the existing system of generation of challans.

 

Accuracy of counting vehicles at any time should be around 90%. In addition, the system shall perform OCR (Optical Character Recognition) in real time. The system will also identify vehicles marked as ‘wanted’, ‘suspicious’ and ‘stolen’ using in-house data,” the tender document read. “Additionally, they will allow stitching of multiple lane videos,” the tender documents stated. The cops want 15 ANPR cameras, each for three and two-lane roads and 10 each for single-lane ones. Apart from the usual accident ‘hotspots’, names of certain roads, which were considered harmless till now, have cropped up in the mapping. EM Bypass topped the accident-prone zones’ list. James Long Sarani emerged as a deadly stretch after it was turned into a high-speed corridor. The cameras will be set up on Strand Road and Taratala Road, too, as accidents have been rising in these areas.

 

 

Met spies heavy rain today; deficit dips after recent spells

 

Kolkata: This week’s drizzles and occasional heavy downpours have reduced the rain deficit in Kolkata to 23% in July. While the rain count in Gangetic Bengal is still in the red, Kolkata now has a seasonal excess of 13%, which could rise by July, according to the Met office. A cyclonic circulation over Bangladesh is set to trigger heavy showers in the city on Thursday and Friday. The seasonal deficit in Gangetic Bengal stood at 23% till Wednesday. Till last week, Kolkata’s rain count in July was 51% below normal. While the deficit was big, it has dropped considerably after last week’s depression over north-west Bay of Bengal. “Monsoon rain is driven by systems like the one that had hit Odisha last week. The more we have them, the higher will be the rain count. But there are bound to be dry periods in between when the deficit will be pushed up. We had seen such a lean period, which is now over. Presently, there is a cyclonic circulation over Bangladesh, which is set to trigger showers over the next 48 hours,” said Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) director GK Das. If the circulation triggers a spell of heavy rain, Kolkata’s July deficit will further fall while the seasonal excess will climb, added Das.

 

July 2017 has been the second wettest in Kolkata since 2008 with rain count clocking a phenomenal 72% above the normal mark for the month. The city was drenched by showers at regular intervals with almost equal intensity. Only once in the last decade has Kolkata received more rain in July and that was in 2015. In July 2017, Kolkata received 621.5 mm of rain. July and August are the rainiest monsoon months. The normal July rain count in Kolkata is 522 mm. Now, Kolkata has a healthy seasonal excess of 13%. “It had rained heavily during the last week of June. The beginning of monsoon was dry this year, though. The monsoon trough came to a halt for 10 days, immediately after the onset of monsoon in June. In fact, Kolkata had the warmest day of the year after the onset of monsoon, something which has not happened in at least 25 years,” said a Met official. Low-pressures and circulations were more frequent in July 2017, pointed out weathermen. “This July has been relatively dry, resulting in a monthly deficit. But the seasonal excess hasn’t been neutralized, thanks to the drizzles that continued. Since monsoon rain happens in cycles, we are now entering a wet period,” said Das.

 

 

App helps Chennai Police clear 1.20 lakh passports in 5 months

 

 

Chennai: After the M-passport scheme was introduced in Tamil Nadu on February 10 to speed up the verification process, police in Chennai cleared about 1.20 lakh passports, highest in the state, till July 24. They now have only 2,500 verifications pending. Under the system, the designated intelligence department official has the M-passport app installed in an iPad to access data shared by the regional passport office (RPO) at passport seva kendra (PSK). This activity is also monitored by the inspector of the passport section. This, police say, has helped reduce the verification period to less than a week. As soon as an individual completes the procedure for a passport at the RPO or a PSK, the details are sent to the iPad of the police officer who makes a house visit and provides remarks. This then goes to the police inspector who will relay it to the passport authorities for immediate issuance. The process earlier lasted longer than a month. The details of an applicant were sent to the police passport section within three days and were then dispatched to the intelligence section. A couple of days later, the file would reach a field-level police officer who would personally visit the address for a check before sending it to the police inspector. The file would then return to the passport office for dispatch to the applicant by post.

 

 

International News

 

 

41 killed in IS terror attack, other poll-related violence in Pakistan

 

Islamabad: At least 41 people, including six police officials, were killed and nearly 50 injured in terror attacks and separate election-related violence across Pakistan on Wednesday. Around 11am, just three hours after the country-wide polling began, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside a polling station in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s restive southwestern Balochistan province, killing at least 31 people, five of them policemen, and injuring 40 others. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq website. “On Wednesday morning, a suicide bomber blew himself up after he was stopped from entering a school, which was serving as a polling station,” Quetta police said. The death toll was feared to go up as doctors at Quetta’s civil hospital declared the condition of several wounded persons, including a senior police official Muhammad Hameed, critical. According to Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS), 18 to 20 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack. Following the suicide bombing, the polling process was temporarily halted at the polling station.

 

At another polling station, in Koshk village of Khuzdar district in Balochistan, a policeman was killed and three others injured in a grenade attack. It was followed by firing at a polling station in Naseerabad town of Balochistan, injuring two people. Earlier, a shooting between supporters of secular Awami National Party (ANP) and Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf left one person dead and two wounded in Swabi district of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Clashes were also reported in Mardan, Rajanpur, Khipro and Kohistan regions of the country that left at least seven persons dead. Polling was also halted at a polling station in Larkana, the hometown of slain ex-PM Benazir Bhutto, where a cracker blast killed one person and left four injured. At least 203 people were killed in the weeks leading up to the elections, with a series of suicide attacks targeting election rallies throughout the country. On July 13, 154 people were killed in an attack on a political rally in the southwestern city of Mastung, the second deadliest attack on Pakistani soil in the run-up to polls. The Mastung blast was also claimed by the IS.

 

 

Pak-origin man behind Toronto mass shooting claimed by IS

 

 

Toronto: A Pakistan-origin man has been identified by the Canadian police as the gunman who killed two persons and injured 13 others in a mass shooting incident in Toronto claimed by the Islamic State terror group. Faisal Hussain, 29, was suffering from psychosis and was getting professional help, Canada’s public broadcaster CBC News reported. IS said Hussain was “one of the soldiers of the Islamic State”. “He carried out the attack in response to calls to target nationals of countries of the coalition” fighting IS since 2014, the outfit’s propaganda agency Amaq reported on Wednesday. Toronto Police chief Mark Saunders, however, said officials have found no evidence to support the Islamic State’s claim. Saunders said officials will continue to explore every investigative avenue, including interviews and reviewing the online activity and mental health experiences of Hussain. The Ontario special investigations unit said it was releasing his name due “to the exceptional circumstances of this tragic incident”. A resident of Toronto, Hussain, who worked in a grocery store, was not on any federal watch lists associated with the national security. His family, originally from Pakistan, said their son was in the grips of untreatable and severe mental illness for “his entire life”. Eight years ago, Hussain had disclosed to his friend that he was suffering from psychosis and was getting help.


News Flash – 25 July 2018

National News

 

 

Lives put at risk as closure of bridge chokes approach to Lower Parel Station

 

Mumbai: Video clips and pictures of a crushing procession of people, inching through the lane below Delisle bridge towards a staircase leading to Lower Parel station, went viral on Tuesday within hours of the flyover being closed. The images forced the police to open up a private plot to create an access route to a little-used foot over-bridge of the station. The solution, though moderately effective, can be short-lived as the landlord of the property has said he will move court on grounds of trespassing. Motorists who had to take a long detour to reach their destinations complained of delays of up to one and a half hours; traffic jams were reported from the Elphinstone Road-Parel belt right up to Mahalaxmi. Zubin Kapadia, an Andheri resident whose office is in Phoenix Mills, said he was stuck for one and a half hours between Elphinstone Road and his workplace. “What made it worse was that south-bound motorists drove on the wrong side and got onto the northbound stretch,” he said. Abhin Shreshtha, who lives in Shivaji Park and reaches his Lower Parel office in half an hour, said he was stuck on the flyover opposite his office building for 15 minutes. “I was literally outside my workplace, but couldn’t enter on time”. There are two entrances for reaching the north FOB of Lower Parel station. One is via NM Joshi Marg and the other through a staircase from Datta Ahire Marg—the lane that runs below Delisle bridge.

 

“The south FOB is not used by many commuters. On Tuesday, many of us who use Central Railway to reach our offices in central Mumbai got off at Currey Road station and started to walk towards Lower Parel. We were taken aback to find Delisle shut. A massive crowd of commuters had gathered on Datta Ahire Marg by then, stretching all the way back to NM Joshi Marg,” said Shwetank Sarmal, an accountant. Another office-goer, Shweta Raje, said, “The police were silent spectators on the bridge above. Not even barricades had been placed in the lane to separate those entering the station and those exiting it”. The private plot, Devidas Dharamdas chawl, was opened at 10.30am so that the south foot over-bridge could be accessed. Only then did the crowd ease up to an extent. “It took me 20 minutes to get out of Lower Parel station and another 15 minutes to squeeze through the crowd and get to the main road,” said Sujat Naik, an employee of a private firm. WR’s divisional railway manager Sanjay Kumar said, “We have allowed non-railway commuters to use the station’s FOBs. We have decided not to levy a fine on anyone found without a ticket on the FOB”. BEST announced bus diversions. Buses of routes 2, 52 and 63 have been diverted via Bharatmata Cinema and BA Road and subsequently via Elphinstone Road to ST depot. Buses of routes 44, 50, 57 and 166 have been diverted from Yadav Chowk to Elphinstone Road via Senapati Bapat Marg onto Elphinstone bridge, and then via Dr B A Road towards Bharatmata Cinema.

 

 

Maratha bandh call may hit life in city & suburbs today

Protesters toppled vehicles and shopkeepers downed shutters in all 8 districts of Marathwada. Arson was also reported in south Maharashtra.

 

 

Mumbai: The Maratha Kranti Morcha has announced a bandh in Mumbai and the adjoining areas of Navi Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad on Wednesday to press for the community’s demand for a 16% quota in government jobs and education and to protest against the death of a Maratha youth during its “Jal Samadhi” agitation in Aurangabad. Though the Kranti Morcha, an umbrella organisation of various Maratha groups, said essential services such as hospitals, ambulance services, water supply, fire brigade, and schools and colleges including school buses would be exempt from the bandh, sources said rail and rasta rokos were likely in a few areas, autos and taxis may not be allowed to ply and shops and establishments may be told to keep shutters down. Educational institutions may take a call on Wednesday morning.

 

 

20-foot-long portion of false ceiling collapses at Vashi mall

 

Navi Mumbai: A 20ft-long portion of a false ceiling collapsed at Raghuleela Mall in Vashi on Tuesday, triggering panic. No one was injured as the portion fell on an empty space on the third level. A metal reinforcement meant to support the ceiling plaster too came down and hanged precariously close to the ground floor. Security guards at the mall immediately cordoned off the area and switched off the nearby escalator to keep visitors away. Vashi police station inspector Nitin Gite said, “The ceiling fell outside a multiplex. It had become loose due to moisture. The mall was shut for some time till the debris was cleared. We have noted the incident in the police station diary”. Mall’s manager Rajendra Shinde said, “The incident took place at 12.30pm. We reopened the mall at 4.30pm after we checked the entire ceiling to ensure the plaster had not loosened anywhere else”.

 

 

Cops in plain clothes chase, nab four snatchers

CAUGHT ON CAM: The accused were trying to escape after roughing up and robbing a woman, when they were noticed by a police officer.

 

 

New Delhi: There was chaos in Kirti Nagar when two cops who were patrolling in civil clothes — in a drive to keep a special check on snatchers and robbers — went on a hot chase and caught four men. They were trying to escape after roughing up and robbing a woman, when they were noticed by a police officer, who, while chasing them, took their picture and circulated it on all police WhatsApp groups. Three other teams were also pushed to action and a trap was laid. These men were left with no route to escape and were finally nabbed after a scuffle with two cops, who were left injured. In an attempt to dodge the cops, they even crashed into an elderly man, who is being treated. The entire chase has been caught on several CCTV cameras in the area. Cops said that the robbers were arrested with the help of a crime counter strategy by Delhi Police, named, “Operation Chakravyuh”. They had injured a woman while snatching her bag in Kirti Nagar on Friday. DCP (west) Vijay Kumar said that on the day of the incident, a biker along with two pillion riders, robbed the bag of a woman named Harmeet Kaur. As soon as the case was reported, a team led by SHO Anil Sharma was formed to investigate the matter.

 

“The victim got injured due to the manhandling done by the robbers. She was traumatised by the incident but somehow gathered courage and shouted for help,” said the DCP. Around 7.30pm, a constable deployed in the area heard commotion and spotted three robbers on a bike coming towards Ramesh Nagar. He immediately tried to stop them, simultaneously pulling out his phone in one hand and the lathi in the other hand and challenged the robbers. He took a picture of them, which made them afraid and they started driving towards a narrow lane. The constable immediately circulated the photo on all WhatsApp groups. All police officers deployed at the pickets were alerted so that there was no way the robbers could escape, while other cops set out on bikes, to track down the men. They were spotted at a barricade and the barricades were immediately closed, so they took a U-turn, but were faced by two cops on their bike, who, after a chase, caught these men. Police said that the men told the cops about being active in various parts of Delhi and even in its outskirts. Cops said that several cases have been solved with their arrest.

 

 

Monsoon mania: Fever Hospital records 15 malaria cases in 3 days

 

 

Hyderabad: With the monsoon season setting, the state-run Fever Hospital has seen a sudden spike in count of malaria patients, with at least 15 positive cases reported in the last three days alone. This apart, doctors say, the incidence of suspected cases too has shot up significantly in the recent past. From 5-10 cases being recorded in a week, the figure has now touched 50-100 per day, doctors added. While authorities are yet to ascertain the exact reason for this sudden surge in malaria cases, they suspect it is due to large-scale breeding of mosquitoes. “The jump in number of cases could be monsoon-related and the rise in mosquito menace during this season. Also some of the patients have reported having recently been on pilgrimage. So that could be another reason,” said Dr K Shankar, superintendent, Fever Hospital, adding, “Most of the cases being reported are from in and around Hyderabad”. The rest of the state too are seen reporting several cases with the records of the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, (for July 23 alone) pegging the total count of positive patients at 25. Of them, 19 were recorded in Kothagudem, five in Medak and one in Adilabad. “This number is only likely to increase further over the next few weeks and the monsoon season gathers steam,” said a health official.

 

Given the current situation, experts suggest that patients running fever do not neglect their health as the incidence of malaria, dengue and even chikungunya peaks during this time of the year. “Cold, cough and fever is very common now; but fever should not be neglected, particularly if they are prolonged (for more than two days),” said Dr Papa Rao Nadakuduru, consultant physician at a city hospital. Apart from fever at regular intervals, bouts of shivering, muscle pain and weakness are the other symptoms of malaria, doctors added. In fact, in most instances, malaria cases are reported in clusters (many people from the same area test positive) due to the concentration of malaria spreading-female Anopheles mosquitoes in one pocket. The count of such cases is high in areas that have poor sanitation systems and are faced with the issue of water stagnation. “These civic loopholes allow mosquitoes to breed and multiply,” said a health expert, advising people to take appropriate precautions – maintain hygienic conditions in and around their homes and use mosquito repellents — to protect themselves from the disease.

 

 

To prevent vandalism, more CCTV cams at state Hospitals

 

Kolkata: The state government will install CCTVs in all government hospitals soon. To start with, the health department is identifying hospitals that frequently witness mob violence. Already CCTVs are there in the emergency wards in medical colleges, but now, there will be more. In the first phase, 1,440 CCTVs will be installed in 29 hospitals. During a meeting with health officials last month, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had promised to provide safety to the doctors and nurses by taking stern action against those involved in hospital vandalism. B C Roy Institute, known to be regularly affected by mob violence, will have 112 CCTVs. Medical College Hospital is going to have 64 CCTVs and Mayo hospital, which functions as the second campus of the Medical College, will get 16. SSKM Hospital will get 64 CCTVs and NRS Medical College and Hospital will get 48. School of Tropical Medicine (STM) will get 64 and Chittaranjan Sevasadan will have 24 CCTVs. However, maximum number of CCTVs — 248 — will be installed at Murshidabad Medical College Hospital, where a major fire took place in August 2016. It also witnesses regular mob violence and there have been complaints of baby lifting too. Midnapore Medical College will get 212 CCTVs. North Bengal Medical College will have 144 CCTVs, while Sagore Dutta Medical College will have 64 cameras and Bankura Sammilani medical college hospital will have 56 CCTVs. “Even thefts or baby lifting along with other crimes can be spotted easily with CCTVs,” said an official.

 

 

4 riding train footboard die after crashing against wall

DEATH RIDE: Five injured are being treated at hospitals; (L) mother of Sivakumar, one of the victims, was inconsolable.

 

 

Chennai: Tragedy struck rush-hour commuters on Tuesday when at least four men travelling on the footboard of a suburban train were killed and five others were injured after they slammed against a concrete fence near the track at St Thomas Mount Railway Station. The accident took place at 8.22am, police said. Witnesses told police that as the train was rolling on to platform 4, normally reserved for express trains, several commuters hanging on to the footboard in the compartment next to the engine smashed into the concrete fencing wall built on platform 3 and fell to the ground. Four of them were crushed to death under the train that was still moving fairly fast. The deceased were identified as J Naveen Kumar, 23, of Foreshore Estate, Sivakumar, 22, a resident of Raja Annamalaipuram and a second year B Com student at Vels College, and Bharath, 16, of Tambaram, who was a Class XII student. The fourth body is yet to be identified. Railway authorities said shoulder bags of several commuters travelling footboard hit the cement fence, and 10 passengers fell to the ground.

 

 

A snag in the overhead electrical line had forced them to run slow local trains on the fast lines meant for express services, said southern railway officials. The problem was reported around 7.10am and delayed trains plying between Chennai Beach and Tambaram by about 30 minutes. This, officials said, led to overcrowding of trains and the Chennai Beach-Tirumalpur train, which was involved in the accident, had to be diverted on to platform 4. Staff manning the control room of the state’s emergency service provider, Emergency Management Research Institute (EMRI), received the first call by 8.24am when a commuter said several people were injured in a train accident at St Thomas Mount. The closest 108 ambulance reached the spot at 8.32am. Nine more ambulances arrived in the next few minutes. Paramedics said several people had suffered injuries in the incident. “We saw a severed head and at least two amputated limbs. Faces of some of the dead were disfigured,” said a paramedic. Although 108 ambulances do not ferry the dead, health department officials decided to make an exception.

 

 

International News

 

 

Scores missing after Laos dam collapse

 

 

Bangkok: A hydroelectric dam collapsed in Laos, leaving an unknown number of people dead and hundreds missing, state media said on Tuesday. Rescue efforts were underway. The official Lao news agency KPL said the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam in Attapeu province collapsed on Monday, releasing large amounts of water that swept away houses and made over 6,600 people homeless. The dam was constructed by a joint venture led by South Korean companies, with Thai and Lao partners. The project was still under construction, KPL reported. Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith “suspended the planned monthly meeting of the government for August and led his cabinet members and other officials to Sanamxay (district) to monitor rescue and relief efforts being made for flood victims,” KPL said.

 

 

Heatwave toll touches 80 in Japan

 

 

Tokyo: Two weeks into Japan’s heat wave, at least 80 people have died and thousands have been rushed to emergency rooms, as officials on Tuesday urged citizens to stay indoors to avoid temperatures exceeding 40°C in some areas. The government said it may pay to help state schools install air conditioners and suggested extending summer vacations, which started this week for many students. “Record temperatures are continuing across the country,” chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said. Temperatures neared 40°C on Tuesday in many cities. Temperatures in Tokyo hovered near 35°C.


News Flash – 24 July 2018

National News

 

 

BKC, Thane, Antop Hill at risk of extreme flooding, says study

 

Mumbai: Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), Thane, Bhiwandi and Antop Hill are among the areas most at risk from extreme floods, according to RMSI, a leading risk management consultancy that works with major insurers and government agencies. The assessment shows, expectedly, that the areas around the rivers and creeks are at high risk from extreme flooding. Kalina, Sahar Road, BKC and Dharavi all lie along the Mithi river and were inundated during the 2005 Mumbai deluge when 944mm of rain descended on the city in just one day. But the risk model also identifies Thane, Bhiwandi, Mumbra and Kalwa, along the Ulhas River and Thane Creek, as high flood-risk areas. Among Indian cities most at risk are Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Bhubaneshwar and Allahabad.

 

 

Malaria cases outpace dengue this season

 

New Delhi: Malaria is turning out to be the fastest spreading mosquito-borne disease this season. As per municipal data released on Monday, 75 people have been affected by malaria as on July 21 this year. It is higher than the number of people affected by dengue (43) and chikungunya (34), the two other mosquito-borne diseases, in the said period. Among the cases traced by authorities concerned, a maximum of 13 malaria patients resided in the jurisdiction of east corporation, followed by south corporation (7), north corporation (5), NDMC (3) and Delhi Cantonment (3). “Total 44 cases remained untraced after investigation,” the officials said. Last year also, Delhi reported high incidence of malaria with 577 cases. In 2016, 2015, and 2014, the number of cases of the mosquito-borne disease stood at 454, 359 and 201 respectively. No malaria deaths have been reported by the civic bodies in the last five years. The doctors said the corporation’s data on incidence of malaria and deaths due to it does not give the complete picture. “The corporations report only those cases that are treated in its sentinel hospitals or big private hospitals that send them case reports. Hundreds of patients with febrile illnesses who get treated at smaller nursing homes or standalone clinics aren’t included in the data,” said a senior doctor working with National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP).

 

He added that malaria cases, which were once considered on the wane, have shown significant resurgence across southeast Asia, Africa and South Africa, among others. “It is mainly on account of reduced focus and expenditure by the governments,” he said. While dengue and chikungunya viruses are spread by Aedes aegypti mosquito that breeds in fresh water, malaria is spread by the anopheles’ mosquito that can breed in dirty water. Dr D K Seth, principal consultant at Hindu Rao Hospital, said high incidence of malaria may be reflective of poor sanitation levels. “We need to renew our focus on the disease with an aim eradicate it at the source and thus reduce its spread,” he said. Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, chills and vomiting, and usually appear 10 to 15 days after the mosquito bite. “If untreated within 24 hours, malaria can lead to severe illness, and even result in death. In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to a number of malaria medicines,” the WHO said. The municipal health officials said dengue and chikungunya cases may also soar in the coming months.

 

 

Lightning alert: In May, June bolts kill 11 in T & 73 in AP

 

Hyderabad: In two months this summer and at the onset of monsoon, 73 people lost their lives in Andhra Pradesh and 11 in Telangana due to lightning strikes during thunderstorms. Across the country, 17 people die of lightning every day, and 1,006 lost their lives in May and June 2018. After Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of deaths due to lightning in the country. Though AP has worked out on a technology that gives warning half-an-hour ahead of lightning, the number of deaths are significant. Telangana, though, is yet to establish an early warning system. These statistics came to the fore from a data provided by minister of home affairs (state) Kiren Rijiju in the Rajya Sabha on July 18, to a question from Karnataka MP D Kupendra Reddy that 1,006 people died and 635 were injured in the country in May and June 2018. Indian Meteorological Department, Hyderabad, director YK Reddy told TOI, “Lightning due to thunderstorms happen more in April, May and part of June during the onset of monsoon. May is the peak period for thunderstorms and lightning as compared to any other month of the year. In coastal states such as AP, due to high humidity and high temperatures, thunderstorms and lightning occur more.

 

In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and north West Bengal lightning strikes are more due to Nor’wester (Kala Bhaisaki) — local thunderstorm developed due to the confluence of winds”. Reddy added, “AP has installed lightning detecting sensors, which warn 30 minutes in advance at a geographic location. AP is disseminating information to the public through various means and advising people to go to safe places. However, still, deaths are reported. There is no such system in Telangana. Though the accuracy of the system is still questionable, it is the only available technology now”. Telangana State Development Planning Society CEO SK Meera told TOI, “The disaster management department of Telangana is working on setting up lightning warning system. We are creating awareness among the public along with revenue and disaster management departments with the help of UN cooperation on lightning strikes to prevent deaths”.

 

 

House collapse claims 2 lives at market in Sealdah

 

Kolkata: Two persons died and one was injured when portions of a two-storeyed building at Baithakkhana Market in Sealdah collapsed early on Monday morning. It is believed that heavy rain over the last 24 hours led to the cave-in of the century-old building, which the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) had declared “insecure” years back. The deceased — Gopal Naskar, a 60-year-old local resident and 48-year old trader Manik Jana from Midnapore’s Daspur — had taken shelter in the building on Sunday night. The house has around 20 shops, majority of them sell puffed rice during the day and serves as a shelter for those from far-off places. Both Naskar and Jana were in deep sleep on the ground floor when large concrete chunks came crashing down. Both got buried under debris. Another youth, who was also sleeping on the ground floor, could sniff danger and managed to rush out, but not before a chunk fell on his head. He was taken to the hospital with a broken skull. Though still critical, he is responding to treatment, a source said. Kolkata Police has started two separate cases against the owner of the building who, a section of KMC building department officials claimed, was absconding. According to a civic official, KMC had slapped five notices on the building in last five years, asking the owner to undertake necessary repairs or vacate the building. The civic body was about to issue a distress warrant against the owner.

 

“All our requests fell on deaf ears. The owner did not take any measure and the condition of the building worsened in all these years. We were about to issue a distress warrant and force the owner to undertake an immediate repair, but the accident struck before that,” a KMC building department official said. According to mayor Sovan Chatterjee, KMC has lodged an FIR against the owner for the death of two persons. He expressed apprehensions of more collapses as many buildings in the locality are in a bad shape. “Special concession would be provided to the owners of rickety buildings who would take up repair works,” he said. Local traders, however, claimed that the lives could have been saved had the police or civic workers not delayed the rescue operations. “It is true that a police team and local civic workers started the rescue operation from early morning. However, they could not do anything effective till disaster management group workers joined them with necessary equipment to bring out the trapped traders. Had these experts of rescue operations reached early, the lives could have been saved,” said Anil Manna, a local trader.

 

 

GIS mapping of CCTV cams helps police crack Survey Park theft

 

Kolkata: Kolkata Police has used its recently acquired tool — GIS-based mapping software through which it gets to know the exact locations of all CCTV cameras, including the private ones, in the city — to solve a theft case in the Survey Park area adjoining Jadavpur. According to a source, the east division police stations have completed mapping all CCTV cameras of the area last year and it was the footage from a private source that helped them nab one “Lyangra Gautam”, who had committed the theft at a residence in Friends Row on July 20. “The theft was committed between 4.45pm and 6pm and Rs 8,500 in cash, ATM card, mobile phone and gold jewellery from the house of complainant Jayanti Bera were stolen. The accused had gained entry by breaking the rear door of the house,” said police. A team led by Survey Park OC Biswak Mukherjee was immediately formed. Luckily, both the complainant and her daughter could see the accused fleeing. “But during interrogation, they made contradictory statements regarding the description of the accused. To fix up the actual culprit, we searched the CCTVs of nearby places. We found a footage of the suspected person from a CCTV of a shop situated nearly 100 metres from the victims’ residence. While checking the video we found that the accused was a man who was limping on his right foot,” said an officer. “Immediately, we contacted OC (burglary) who gave a lead about “Lyangra Goutam”, who was last arrested in Bansdroni.

 

We then contacted OCs of Bansdroni and Panchasayar, where the accused lived, and nabbed Goutam. We have recovered the mobile phone, ATM card, some of the ornaments along with Rs 3,500 from the accused,” said a police source. Emboldened by the success it has received recently in solving crimes by analysing real-time CCTV footage, Kolkata Police had decided to integrate all CCTV cameras — both government and private — across the city. The idea was to ensure that every footage is analysed in depth and every CCTV of the city is mapped. While the project has already received success in areas like Posta, Park Street, Shakespeare Sarani and Bhowanipore, the cops are now concentrating on increasing surveillance in highly populated zones like Behala, Jadavpur, Survey Park, Haridevpur and Regent Park. “The perfect example of this co-ordination can be seen in the baby-lifting case at Medical College. We used footage from hospital, our own resources and those from Metro. We made the footage public and tracked the accused within hours,” said an officer.

 

 

International News

 

 

Man opens fire at cafes in Toronto, leaves 2 dead

People at the scene of a mass shooting in Toronto on Sunday.

 

 

Toronto: A man walking along a Toronto street fired a handgun into restaurants and cafes, killing two people and wounding 13 others before dying after an exchange of gunfire with police. Police chief Mark Saunders did not rule out terrorism as a motive in the attack on Sunday night in Toronto’s lively Greektown neighborhood, though officials did not immediately identify the assailant other than to say he was 29 years old and from Toronto. The mass shooting, just three months after the driver of a van plowed into pedestrians on a Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people, shook the confidence of many in this normally safe city. “It’s almost inconceivable that these things can happen,” said mayor John Tory. “We were so used to living in a city where these things didn’t happen and as we saw them going on in the world around us (we) thought they couldn’t happen here.” “This is an attack against innocent families and our entire city”. The dead included a 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman, Saunders told a news conference on Monday. The 13 wounded ranged in age from 10 to 59, and suffered injuries ranging from serious to minor, he said. He did not name the victims. A video taken by a witness showed a man dressed in black clothes and a black hat walking quickly and firing three shots from the sidewalk into at least one shop or restaurant in Toronto’s Greektown, a residential area crowded with Greek restaurants and cafes. Witnesses heard many shots and described the suspect walking past restaurants and cafes and patios on both sides of the street and firing into them.

 

Ontario’s police watchdog said there was an exchange of gunfire between the assailant and two officers on a side street but the gunman was found dead near Danforth Avenue where the shootings occurred. It was not immediately clear whether he killed himself or was killed by police. A spokeswoman for the special investigations unit, Monica Hudon, would not say whether the gunman was shot dead by police and said his identity was still being confirmed. She said an autopsy would be performed Tuesday. Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said the victims included eight women and girls, and seven men. John Tulloch said he and his brother had just gotten out of their car when he heard about 20 to 30 gunshots. “We just ran. We saw people starting to run so we just ran”. Toronto Councilor Paula Fletcher told a city council meeting on Monday that the attack was “not gang related” and said the gunman was shooting “indiscriminately” into restaurants and into a park. Though mass shootings are rare in Canada’s largest city, Toronto police had deployed dozens of additional officers over the weekend to deal with a recent rise in gun violence in the city, which has seen 23 gun homicides so far this year, compared to 16 fatal shootings in the first half of 2017. “Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?” Tory said at the council meeting. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the confidence that Toronto is a safe city has been shaken. PM Justin Trudeau tweeted: “The people of Toronto are strong, resilient and brave — and we’ll be there to support you through this difficult time.

 

 

Fears mount in Pakistan over military influence in elections

 

Islamabad: The run-up to the Pakistan’s elections on July 25 has been blighted by violence and political controversy, generating the view among national and international spectators that the military establishment is supporting former cricketer Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. Observers believe the Pakistan army has influenced the political landscape by denying level-playing field to the country’s mainstream political parties, particularly Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The view is that the security establishment has facilitated the creation of new rightwing parties like Milli Muslim League (MML), headed by the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai carnage Hafiz Saeed, and Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), led by a firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, to cut short PML-N’s votes in Punjab, the key battleground, which holds more than half of the 272 directly-elected seats in the Pakistan Parliament. Both TLP and MML have fielded candidates across the country to contest elections.

 

Observers allege the security establishment has pressured members of the PML-N in Punjab to switch political loyalties. Nearly 180 PML-N dissidents are contesting as independents solely with an aim to defeat PML-N candidates. “In recent years, the military has extended its influence to all institutions, including media. The civilian setup cannot do anything about it because the security establishment tactfully pursues its agenda without leaving behind any record,” said analyst Amir Jalil Bobra, adding that if one was looking for convincing proof of military meddling, they would not find anything. While the PML-N founder and former PM Nawaz Sharif has been jailed along with his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar in a corruption case, several of his party’s candidates for the polls have been disqualified on one pretext or another by courts. The PPP led by Asif Zardari, former president and widower of former slain PM Benazir Bhutto, and his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, have lost much of their credibility through poor election campaigning due to high security threat alerts. On the other hand, Khan, considered to be a blue eyed guy of the military, has been carrying out election rallies across the country. He has centered his campaign on the promise to create a “new Pakistan” and has made fighting graft his party’s central pitch.


News Flash – 23 July 2018

National News

 

 

Disaster management cell tackles 1,000 distress calls daily

 

Mumbai: It was a dark day in June. The skies had opened up; the downpour was relentless. In flood-prone Sion, with water levels in the neighbourhood climbing by the minute, Ravi Jain dialed the disaster control helpline 1916. To his surprise and relief, civic staff landed up within minutes. They opened manholes to inspect if plastic or other material was blocking the flow. In half an hour, the water in the area began to recede—it was a wooden plank that had stemmed the flow. For the BMC’s 24×7 Disaster Management Cell (DMC), trouble-shooting in the monsoon is part of a protocol that stretches round the year, 24×7. The cell receives up to 1,000 phone calls on a typical day, but numbers swell to 3,000 when Mumbai goes under in heavy rain. Situations vary from stuff as serious as a blaze which broke out in Lower Parel’s Kamala Mills area last year claiming 14 lives to deploying resources for nabbing a simian which may have gate-crashed a housing society. Man and machinery is mobilized depending on gravity and immediacy, and they are prepared for over 100 different scenarios, says Mahesh Narvekar, chief officer, BMC Disaster Management Unit. Narvekar has the disconcerting habit of calling the helpline to check if his team is following the protocol. “There is a fear among the staff that the boss may call anytime which keeps them on alert,” he says. Located on the second floor of the civic headquarters at Fort, the control room boasts of 30 hunting lines, a video wall, 50 hotlines to ward offices, police stations, hospitals, and TV screens tuned to news channels.

 

The resources are GIS mapped. A trained staff of 50 fields distress calls over three shifts. It’s come a long way since the operation began in 1999 with all of two phone lines and a wireless. Back then, it operated from a space in the basement, originally used to store old files. Manpower comprised untrained security staff. The July 2005 deluge changed everything. Rashmi Lokande, the cell’s deputy chief and one of the old-timers, recalls, “Communication lines went down and mobilising resources turned out to be a huge challenge. Back then it was just a few higher-rung officers who had mobile handsets, talking to local staff was not easy.” To make it worse, large parts of the city were without power, further strapping the administration’s response. “There were rumours of a tsunami which triggered a stampede in the Nehru Nagar slum at Juhu, killing 18 people. There was no public address system and therefore a message that it was a rumour could not be communicated to the public,” said Narvekar. Today, the disaster cell has a tie-up with all mobile operators to push public safety alerts. They also have a tie-up with channel operators to broadcast important messages. This monsoon, the cell waded into social media, especially Twitter, to beam out updates on high tide timings, weather forecasts, road closures.

 

On days of heavy downpour, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta, who is seen frequenting the DMC, tracks the city’s movement through 44 screens mounted on a video wall in the control room. The feed comes from around 5,000 cameras across Mumbai. The cameras can be zoomed, panned and tilted to maximize visibility. Mehta often shoots instructions from the control post to staff across the city to speed up action against water logging. The starting point is usually a call from a citizen. Narvekar says his staff are trained to calm them down long enough to convey the details needed to activate a response. “You know, calls received here are different from a pizza delivery shop or an airline helpline,” he says. “Most callers sound distressed.” Offering an introduction to them often does the trick. The next step involves mobilising police, fire brigade or other agencies, depending to the need of the hour. And the response time to mobilise external agencies such as the NDRF is down to 30 minutes as opposed to the 2-3 hours it would take earlier. “How quickly one can mobilize the right kind of resources plays a crucial role in tackling a disaster,” says Narvekar. Finally, as if to underline the stress levels at work, he says, “This is a challenging job, my staff sit with headphones on all through their eight-hour shift. And for that we have a safety officer who is on duty to check in case anyone gets fatigued”.

 

 

WhatsApp forward in group lands ‘default’ admin in jail for 5 months

 

 

Bhopal: A 21-year-old youth in Rajgarh district of Madhya Pradesh has been in jail for the last five months over a WhatsApp message forwarded by somebody else. His family members insist he is paying the price for ending up as the “default admin” as the actual administrator left the group after the “objectionable” forward. But police say they took action on the evidence they had then. Junaid Khan, a BSc student and resident of Talen town in Rajgarh, was arrested on February 14 this year and booked under the IT Act and IPC Section 124 A (sedition). He was part of a WhatsApp group in which the admin, Irfan, had posted an objectionable forward. Some locals filed a complaint at Talen police station and a case was registered against Irfan and the “admin”. Police say Junaid was the WhatsApp group administrator when the case came to their notice. His family says otherwise. “Junaid was a member of the group, but not the admin. When the matter came to light, he was in Ratlam on family work. It was then that the admin left the group and another member became admin by default. But he, too, quit. Junaid became group admin by default. But he was not admin when the post was originally shared,” Junaid’s cousin, Farukh Khan, told TOI.

 

Junaid couldn’t write his examinations as the court denied bail because he was booked for sedition, said Farukh. “We approached senior police officers and complained with the CM Helpline but to no avail,” Farukh claimed. When TOI contacted the then Pachore police station Incharge, Yuvraj Singh Chouhan, who investigated the case, he said, “Junaid’s family members did not say this when he was arrested. Now, after the challan has been put up in court, they say he was the ‘default admin’. If they have any evidence, they should produce it in court. Irfan, too, was arrested and when the matter came to our cognizance, Junaid was group admin. There was no evidence or any other way to ascertain who was admin of the group when the post was shared by Irfan. We filed the challan on the basis of evidence available with us”.

 

 

5-storey illegal building collapses in Ghaziabad, 1 killed

 

Ghaziabad: At least one labourer was killed and eight others were injured when an under-construction five-storey illegal building collapsed in Ghaziabad on Sunday. The dead as well as the injured comprise labourers and their family members who were working in the building. This is the second time a multi-storey building has collapsed in NCR within a week. Two adjacent buildings had collapsed in Shahberi in Greater Noida last Tuesday. The building, located in Radhey Krishna Colony, came crumbling down around 2.30pm when heavy rain lashed the city. GDA officials said the illegal building was scheduled to be demolished on July 12 but it was not carried out due to logistical issues. Local police and NDRF personnel rushed to the spot and began rescue operations. The area in which the building stood was inundated with rainwater and two approach roads were quickly created with the help of earthmovers to allow ambulances and other vehicles to move in. “There is one casualty so far. Seven injured workers were taken out from the debris and sent to the government hospital in Sanjay Nagar. There is no count on the exact number of trapped people. Prima facie, it appears the building collapsed as poor quality construction material was used. It also seems the structural design of the building was flawed. An inquiry will be conducted by ADM Sunil Kumar Singh,” said district magistrate Ritu Maheshwari.

 

The DM said a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured has been ordered from the CM’s relief fund. “Three patients, including two minor kids, were referred to GTB Hospital in Delhi. The remaining three are in Sanjay Nagar. The conditions of all three survivors are stable,” said chief medical officer NK Gupta. According to the survivors, the columns of the building had developed cracks in the recent past. “We had complained to the contractor on Sunday morning about cracks in the columns, but he brushed aside our complaints. We were transporting sand from the second floor to the fourth floor when all of a sudden the entire structure collapsed,” Geeta, a survivor. “The building was unauthorised. Its map was not approved by the GDA. We had issued a notice to the builder in December last year directing him to demolish it. But he did not heed to our notice,” said Santosh Rai, GDA secretary. “Six people have been taken into custody for questioning. Four teams have been formed to investigate the matter. Efforts will continue to trace and rescue any living person trapped inside the debris. An FIR has been registered,” said SSP Vaibhav Krishna.

 

 

Strokes due to air pollution on the rise: Neurologists

 

 

Trichy: Neurologists based in Trichy on Sunday said the incidence of people suffering stroke due to air pollution has increased. Apart from this, they stated that air pollution is also a possible factor for multiple neurodegenerative diseases. The Tamil Nadu Pondicherry Association of Neurologists released a statement stating this on the occasion of World Brain Day celebrated on July 22 every year. World Federation of Neurology has listed ‘Clean Air for Brain Health’ as this year’s theme for WBD. The federation, citing the Global Burden of Disease study, a research programme, mentioned, “Based on the investigated data from 1990 to 2013 in 188 countries through the study, it’s demonstrated that air pollution contributes to up to 30% of the burden of stroke”. According to the neurologists in the city, emphasis is laid only predominantly on how lungs are affected due to air pollution while the possible effect of it on brain health is often ignored. Consultant neurologist, M Chandrasekharan, told TOI that the reason fewer people talk about adverse effects of air pollution on brain is because it’s an indirect cause.

 

However, its effect on lungs is a direct cause. “But it should be noted that air pollution, which causes oxygen deficit, affects the brain in a lot of ways,” he said. Experts said air pollution increases clotting capacity of the blood, which might cause blockage in small and big blood vessels. A stroke is caused when the blood supply to the brain is blocked or when a blood vessel bursts. President of Tamil Nadu Pondicherry Association of Neurologists, Dr M A Aleem, said the number of people who suffer stroke is on the rise. “Though there is no concrete data to show increase in the number of stroke, based on the patients I have seen who suffered stroke, at least 25% to 30% are those who are exposed to air pollution often,” he told TOI. Air pollutants, which are dissolved in the blood, irritate the neuronal tissues, leading to cell death, which causes neurodegenerative diseases too.

 

 

National News

 

 

Blast hits Kabul airport on return of exiled Afghanistan Vice President, 14 killed; IS claims attack

Afghan vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum arrives at Kabul airport on Sunday.

 

 

Kabul: Afghan vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum narrowly escaped a suicide bomb attack at Kabul airport as he returned home on Sunday from more than a year in exile in Turkey over allegations of torturing and abusing a political rival. Dostum, who left Afghanistan last year after heavy pressure from Western donors including the US, drove away from the airport in a motorcade only minutes before the explosion, which police said killed at least 14 people and wounded more than 50. He was unharmed in the blast, which was claimed by Islamic State, and made only brief mention of it when he met supporters who had been waiting for hours to give him a red carpet reception at a rally at his office compound. However, the incident underlined the increasingly volatile and unstable political climate in Kabul ahead of parliamentary elections in October that are seen as a dry run for more important presidential elections early next year. Dostum backed calls for peace talks with the Taliban and thanked Afghanistan’s international partners for their help while calling on Afghans to register for the elections. “Any fraud in this election will lead the country to a serious and dangerous crisis,” he said.

 

Dostum’s triumphant return was in stark contrast to the outrage he faced after reports in 2016 that his guards had seized political rival Ahmad Eshchi and subjected him to beatings, torture and violent sexual abuse. Dostum, who helped the United States oust the Taliban regime in 2001, allegedly allowed hundreds of Taliban prisoners to be suffocated in shipping containers. He denied Eshchi’s accusations but, amid international demands that he faces justice to show that powerful political leaders were not above the law, he left the country in May last year, saying he needed to seek medical treatment in Turkey. Even in exile, he remained a powerful figure with wide support among his fellow ethnic Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani now faces the challenge of reintegrating Dostum, an ally in the disputed 2014 election who helped deliver the ethnic Uzbek vote but a volatile and unpredictable partner ever since. On Saturday, Ghani’s spokesman said accusations against Dostum would be dealt with by independent legal authorities.

 

 

3-year-old boy attacked with acid at UK store

 

 

London: A 3-year-old boy suffered severe burns on his face and arm during a suspected acid attack that investigators think was deliberate. West Mercia police chief superintendent Mark Travis said the police are working to identify the substance that burned the child on Saturday at a discount store in Worcester, England. A 39-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm. Three others were being sought for questioning Sunday and police released photos to generate public tips. The boy is hospitalized. He has not been identified.


News Flash – 21 July 2018

National News

 

 

Cave-in alarm at GK Metro Station

 

New Delhi: The space under the staircase of the entrance no. 3 to Greater Kailash metro station, the adjacent road and the pavement caved in on Friday morning due to largescale erosion of underlying soil in the recent rain. Following the cave-in next to the Savitri flyover at the left turn from Outer Ring Road towards GK-II, Gate 3 was closed and the affected area was cordoned off. However, the metro services ran normally. The station, inaugurated on May 29, is on the Botanical Garden-Janakpuri West Magenta Line that connects south Delhi with Noida and west Delhi. “Silt and eroded soil seeped into the platform during the night and all construction workers from other stations were called here around 8am. More than 150 workers cleared the sludge,” said one of the workers engaged in the repair work. Till late in the afternoon, the workers were seen clearing up the mess and trying to fill up the gap with concrete and sand. DMRC said the cave-in happened due to accumulation of water as GK was a low-lying area with drainage issues. “The portion of a pavement outside the GK station caved in due to the accumulation of water after the heavy rainfall. The affected area will be fully restored by Saturday morning,” said Anuj Dayal, the DMRC spokesperson.

 

The space under the road is being filled up with additional concrete to avoid any such incident in future, he added. However, one of the construction supervisors indicated that a nearby storm water drain carrying rainwater to the nullah across the flyover might have leaked. Claiming that the incident exposed the shoddy work done by DMRC, Kirpal Singh, a daily commuter, said “It is only good luck that it happened during the night and no one was injured. What if an accident happened on this busy road! Who would have been responsible?”. Even though a section of the public works department road was impacted, its officials said DMRC should be held responsible. PWD’s assistant engineer responsible for the area said at the site, “We have already handed over the site to the metro and they have carried out the entire construction work. PWD has no role in it”.

 

 

Look into pothole peril: SC to road safety panel

 

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday expressed concern over road deaths due to potholes, saying that such fatalities were more than the number of people killed in terror attacks in the country. Taking cognizance of a TOI report on Sunday (July 15) which pointed out how pothole-related accidents claimed 3,597 lives in 2017 in comparison to 803 in all terror and Maoist attacks during the year, a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked the SC-appointed road safety committee to look into the issue and file a report within two weeks. Referring to the report, the bench said, “So many people are dying in the country due to accidents caused by potholes on roads. Reports say that more people have died due to accidents caused by potholes than deaths in terrorist attacks”. The panel, headed by Justice (Retd.) K S Radhakrishnan, has been asked to give suggestions on the measures needed to deal with the problem. Pothole-related deaths had increased by over 50% during last year compared to 2016.

 

The bench also observed that families of those killed in such accidents should be entitled to compensation. “It is frightening. It is about life or death,” the bench said. The bench also dealt with the issue of compensation paid to the victims of hit-and-run cases. Currently, Rs 25,000 is paid to a hit-and-run victim in case of death and Rs 12,500 for grievous injuries. The amicus curie said the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, which revises the amount of compensation to Rs 2 lakh for death and Rs 20,000 for injury in road accidents, was tabled last year in Parliament and it was passed by the Lok Sabha. “Nobody can say that the government cannot give Rs 2 lakh for deaths and Rs 20,000 for injury in road accidents even if the bill is not passed or is pending,” the amicus curie said.

 

 

Security Guard held for clicking woman’s photos at Metro Station

 

 

Bengaluru: A 30-year-old security guard of a cricket stadium near Makali, off Tumakuru Road, was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly clicking photos of a woman at Nagasandra Metro station. Police identified the accused as Ramachandra, a resident of Bagalagunte and from Odisha. He was working as a security guard with a private firm and deployed at KSCA’s stadium near Makali. Police said the incident took place at 5.45pm on Tuesday when the 24-year-old woman, resident of Bhuvaneshwari Nagar, off Hesaraghatta Main Road, was waiting for her friends at Nagasandra Metro station. She had reached there from Ulsoor. The accused clicked her pictures on his mobile, and the woman got to know about it as he didn’t turn off the flash. The woman objected to Ramachandra’s behaviour and asked him why he was taking her snaps. He denied it and tried to run away as she asked him to show his phone’s photo gallery. She chased the accused and caught him with the help of passersby. The woman and others took Ramachandra to the police station. Police found two pictures of the woman in his mobile. The accused confessed that he clicked her photos as she looked beautiful. Police have registered a case of voyeurism under IPC Section 354C. The man was produced before the court and released on bail later.

 

 

Climbers find body of soldier killed in 1968 plane crash on Himachal glacier

ANOTHER DISCOVERY: The soldier’s half preserved body was found near the Dhaka glacier base camp at 6,200m. Army has begun search operations in the area.

 

 

Uttarkashi: Fifty years after an AN-12 aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed in the Lahaul valley of Himachal Pradesh with 102 personnel on board while flying from Chandigarh to Leh, a mountaineering expedition has located the body of one of the soldiers on board along with some parts of the aircraft. The discovery was made by a team of mountaineers who were on a clean-up expedition to the Chandrabhaga-13 peak on July 1. The remains were found at the Dhaka glacier base camp, 6,200 metres above sea level. “We first found some parts of an aircraft. Subsequently, our team members spotted the decayed body of a soldier a few metres away,” said team leader Rajeev Rawat. “Our team took pictures of the body and the plane wreckage, and alerted the Army’s High Altitude Warfare School on July16, after which they have begun search operations in the area,” Rawat said.

 

The ill-fated plane has been the subject of much intrigue over the decades. The aircraft with 98 passengers and four crew members had gone missing on February 7, 1968, after the pilot decided to turn back while approaching Leh due to inclement weather. Its last radio contact was over the Rohtang Pass. Thirty-five years later, in 2003, the plane’s wreckage was discovered in the South Dhaka glacier by an expedition of the ABV Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali. The mountaineers found the remains of a body, subsequently identified as that of Sepoy Beli Ram, an Armymen who was on the flight. In August 2007, an Indian Army expedition code named Operation Punaruthan-III recovered three more bodies from the site. From 2003 till 2017, only five bodies of the crash victims have been recovered. It is believed that scores of other bodies of the victims may also be lying in the area.

 

 

WhatsApp to limit forwards to 5 users to curb rumours

 

 

New Delhi: Instant messaging service WhatsApp, facing increasing censure from the government over the spread of fake news and rumours and their deadly consequences, announced fresh curbs on Friday on its India service, including limiting simultaneous message-forwarding to just five users at a go. Under pressure after rumours and fake news spread via its app led to a spate of horrific lynching’s, WhatsApp said it was launching a test to limit message-forwarding on the app. In addition, it said, it would “remove the quick forward button next to media messages”. “We believe that these changes, which we’ll continue to evaluate, will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be —a private messaging app,” the company said in a statement on Friday. On Thursday, the government had issued a fresh warning to the company, saying it had to play a more aggressive role in curbing fake news. The government warned that failure to contain fake news would make the messaging platform an “abettor” of a crime committed and could lead to “consequent legal action”. It has been conveyed to them in unmistakable terms that it is (fake news) a very serious issue which deserves a more sensitive response,” the information technology ministry had said in the latest warning. The company, though, is still to file a specific response to the government’s new warning.

 

WhatsApp, which had added a feature to let people forward a message to multiple chats at once a few years ago, had earlier this month launched a “forward label” to identify messages which are not original and have been forwarded. More than 20 people have been killed by mobs in the past two months across the country after being accused of kidnapping children and other crimes in viral messages circulated on WhatsApp. “In India, where people forward more messages, photos and videos than any other country in the world, we’ll also test a lower limit of five chats at once and we’ll remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” it said. Earlier, WhatsApp had announced features to help users identify messages that had been forwarded and then issued full-page advertisements containing tips on how to spot misinformation. “We built WhatsApp as a private messaging app—a simple, secure and reliable way to communicate with friends and family. And as we’ve added new features, we’ve been careful to try and keep that feeling of intimacy, which people say they love,” the company’s statement said, adding, “We are deeply committed to your safety and privacy which is why WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, and we’ll continue to improve our app with features like this one”.

 

 

International News

 

 

14 injured in knife attack in Germany

 

 

Berlin: A man armed with a knife attacked people on a bus in the northern city of Luebeck on Friday, injuring several including one seriously before he was arrested, police and the local state prosecutor said. The local Luebecker Nachrichten, without citing its source, said the attacker was a 34-year-old man originally from Iran who now had German nationality and had lived in Luebeck for years. The interior minister of Schleswig-Holstein, the state where Luebeck is located, did not assume there was a terrorist motive, the local paper added. “The exact number of injured is still unclear. There were no dead,” the police said. The local Luebecker Nachrichten reported at least 14 people were wounded, two seriously.

 

 

UK making kids spy on terrorists, drug dealers & gangs

 

 

London: Children are being used to spy on terrorists, drug dealers and grooming gangs by police and security services in Britain. The government admitted that the use of children as “covert human intelligence sources” could rise as teenagers are increasingly drawn into extremism, gang violence and “county lines” drug running. A report by a House of Lords committee raised concern about proposals to extend the period — from one to four months — that police and the intelligence services use underage informants. “We are concerned that enabling a young person to participate in covert activity for an extended period of time may expose them to risks to their mental and physical welfare,” Lord Trefgarne, chairman of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, wrote in a letter to the security minister. The amendment to current law requires that sources the age of 16 should have an appropriate adult present at any meetings with their handler, but those between the ages of 16 and 18 are expected to go alone.

 

Peers said a code of practice was “very vague” on how kids’ welfare would be protected. They questioned whether police and intelligence officers were capable of assessing juveniles’ mental health, and asked how a consistent approach was guaranteed across forces and other agencies. “It does not fully satisfy our concerns about the extent to which juveniles are being used for covert surveillance or how their welfare is taken into account, and how extending their period of operation may affect them…” The Home Office pledged to carry out monthly reviews of welfare and safety, and said juveniles cannot be deployed to obtain evidence against their parents or guardians. In a letter to the committee, security minister Ben Wallace said child spies “have a vital role in investigations by public authorities and can provide evidence that cannot be obtained by any other means… They may have unique access to information about other young people who are involved in or victims of such offences”.