News Flash – 10 November 2017

National News



iSpy: How private eye pried on Bollywood town


MUMBAI: Satish Mangale, the private detective arrested for blackmailing a senior IAS officer, tried to pry into the lives of several Bollywood personalities by manipulating their phones in an attempt to collect grist for extortion later, said Thane police. Last year, Mangale and his Marathi-actor wife Shraddha launched a spa in Borivli and invited six to seven Bollywood personalities, including Rakhi Sawant, Mukesh Rishi, Big Boss celebrity Gautam Gulati, Sonali Raut, Zareen Khan and Vindu Dara Singh. “Mangale told us he had gifted an iPhone 6 to each of them. These phones had been installed with spy apps. He claims he wanted to listen to their private conversations and later blackmail them,” said Pradeep Sharma, senior inspector of the Thane anti-extortion cell. Thane police’s Pradeep Sharma said Satish Mangale is being grilled to find out how exactly he installed the spy apps in the phones that he gifted to the Bollywood personalities at the launch of Shuddha spa and saloon in Shimpoli in Borivli (west). Mangale has told the police that his friend Jigar, who also runs a detective service in Mira Road, had installed the spy software. Police are likely to question Jigar on Friday. Technical experts say it is almost impossible to install any illegal software in an iPhone, except by “jailbreaking” (see box). Mangale said Jigar jailbroke the iPhones and downloaded the spy apps in their phones. “We will call some of the Bollywood victims to know whether Mangale blackmailed them or extorted money from them,” said inspector Rajkumar Kothmire.


Some claimed Mangale had cloned the actors’ mobile phones and used to listen in to their conversations. Mangale, arrested last Friday for blackmailing controversial IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalwar, would get close to senior government officials and record conversations with them, said Thane cops. He had seven email accounts where he would save the recorded conversations with his “victims”. Around 4,000 call records were found saved in Mangale’s laptop, which the cops are analysing. Targeting the Bollywood personalities shows Mangale was perhaps trying to widen his extortion network. Mangale and Shraddha were arrested while allegedly accepting Rs 1 crore from Mopalwar in exchange for the “incriminating” audio tapes of him purportedly striking a land deal in Borivli and for withdrawing a corruption complaint against him. Sources said a police team on Thursday took Mangale to his native place in Kolhapur to search his house. Mangale has built a huge house worth Rs 50 lakh in his tiny village. Cops claimed Mangale had studied up to Class X, dropped out of a computer diploma course and started working as a private detective. Soon, he seemed to have veered into blackmailing tactics. Now, he has two well-furnished apartments and a fleet of cars, including a Mercedes, an Audi and a Toyota Fortuner.



‘There was no one to start monorail’s firefighting system’


MUMBAI: An empty monorail train caught fire at Mysore Colony station between Chembur and Wadala at 5am on Thursday .The blaze ripped through two coaches and burned them down to their metal skeletons by the time the fire brigade, which arrived 20 minutes later, was able to douse it in 40 minutes. Had the train been running during operating hours, the lives of 30 passengers could have been endangered, as on average there are 15 passengers per coach. Monorail services have been suspended till further notice. An official said the driver hit the brakes after being alerted by the central control room, located at the Wadala depot, about smoke coming out from his coach. The call to the fire brigade was made by him. The train was going to Chembur from the Wadala depot to begin the first trip of the day. Monorail services run from 5.30am to 10pm on weekdays.



The monorail system, including trains and stations, is fire-compliant, which means the facilities are equipped with firefighting capabilities, said a fire brigade officer. “But no monorail staff was on the scene to use extinguishers and other equipment to fight the blaze. This led to a delayed response as firefighting operations started only after the arrival of the fire brigade,” he said. Three fire engines were pressed into service after firefighters disconnected power supply to the train, track and station. There were initial reports that the fire was due to a short-circuit caused by sudden braking, but this reason was dropped later. An official said the source of the smoke was the coolant chamber. The metropolitan commissioner, the executive head of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the monorail’s owner, has ordered an inquiry by an independent committee to determine the cause of the fire, said the MMRDA’s joint project director (PR), Dilip Kawathkar, in a statement. The panel will be headed by PS Baghel, a former commissioner of railway safety, western circle. An inspection of all six monorail trains in service has been ordered. The loss caused by the fire has been pegged at about Rs 2 crore, said an official.


Safety issues have dogged the system since monorail operations started in February 2014. Experts say the problems have been compounded because of losses suffered by the Rs 3,000-crore project because of poor passenger response. An expert said that this has meant that services are economized, straining rolling stock: only six rakes (trains) are pressed into service for 240 trips per day, leading to wear and tear. “Maximum services on minimum rakes are affecting the condition of the trains,” said an expert. The latest incident also shows that there has been no improvement in the monorail’s relief and rescue protocol. On March 15, 2015, power failure led to a train getting stuck between the Bhakti Park and Mysore Colony stations, and it took the fire brigade four hours to bring passengers down to safety. Monorail loses Rs 50cr per year, The monorail system incurs a loss of about Rs 15 lakh every day, which translates into an annual loss of well over Rs 50 crore. This is because the trains run below capacity. While the carrying capacity of one coach is 150 passengers, on average only 15 passengers are there on a coach per trip. Most services on the monorail’s only route, Wadala-Chembur, run almost without passengers and it’s only during the morning and evening peak hours that the trains get commuters. The MMRDA, which owns the system, has spent Rs 3,000 crore on the project and doesn’t know when it will break even. An official said this would occur after the second phase starts, but then several deadlines have been missed.



Smog screen thins, but air more toxic


NEW DELHI: Even though visibility improved on Thursday with the dense smog thinning out past noon, Delhi’s air quality showed no signs of improvement for the third straight day. The AQI rose from 478 the previous day to 486 on Thursday — the highest this winter — as the capital continued to ‘choke’. While the situation visually seemed better than the past two days, actual pollution levels at all monitoring stations remained alarming. Other location in the National Capital Region fared no different, with Ghaziabad recording the highest AQI of 499 — just one point below AQI scale ender of 500, which marks a “public health emergency”. Gurgaon and Noida recorded AQI readings of 494 and 487, respectively, with all stations indicating “severe” air quality. To cope, Delhi has already initiated “emergency” measures under the Graded Response Action Plan, including stoppage of construction activity, banning entry of trucks into Delhi (other than those carrying essential goods) and announcing odd-even road rationing from Monday till November 17. Experts were optimistic that air quality would begin improving from Friday when wind speeds picked up that afternoon. “The westerlies are still blowing in pollutants, though visibility improved on Thursday afternoon,” said Kuldeep Shrivastav, scientist at the regional meteorological department.


He said dense fog was likely on Friday morning, but the haze would start diminishing from the afternoon. “The fog is already moving towards eastern UP due to the prevailing north-westerly winds,” added Shrivastav. Dipankar Saha, head of CPCB’s air laboratory, corroborated the weekend outlook for improvement. “Wind speeds are increasing and you will likely see a change in the air quality around the weekend, even though the north-westerly is still blowing,” said Saha. According to the Union ministry of earth sciences’ System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the concentration of both coarse PM10 pollutants and respirable PM2.5 pollutants were 8-10 times the safe standard based on a 24-hour rolling average. Delhi’s PM 2.5 level on Thursday was 546 micrograms per cubic metre, or nine times the safe standard of 60 micrograms per cubic metre. The PM10 level was 895 micrograms per cubic metre, around nine times the safe standard of 100.



Fire at eatery sparks panic near civic HQ



KOLKATA: A fire that broke out at a fast-food centre spared Futnani Chambers — a grade I heritage building beside KMC headquarters on SN Banerjee Road — by a whisker. However, the flames later spread to a part of Raunak Hotel on the first floor of Futnani Chambers. According to KMC and New Market police sources, the fire was first spotted at Muskan Roll Centre under Raunak hotel at 10.25am. By the time the first two fire engines reached the spot, the roll centre was gutted. KMC being its owner, questions were raised whether the fire services department would lodge an FIR against the civic body as it has been doing in other cases of fire. However, a Kolkata Police official said that as it was the fast-food centre that caught fire and not the building, the KMC won’t come into the picture.


Two more fire tenders were pressed into service and the flames were brought under control by 10.50am, police sources said. According to fire services department sources, the cause of fire was yet to be ascertained. However, a gas cylinder explosion could be one of the reasons. “We are investigating the case. It is too early to say whether the gas cylinder explosion led to the fire. Electrical short circuit cannot be ruled out either,” a fire services department official said. Mohammed Sohrab, a hawker in the New Market area said he heard a loud thud and then saw the fast food centre go up in flames. Though the fire services department claimed that the fire could not do any damage to Futnani Chambers, a KMC buildings department official said that the civic body will conduct a structural stability test in a couple of days. “We need to see if the fire has done any sort of damage to the century-old building which has developed some cracks,” a KMC building department official said.



Install CCTV’s, hold women security review every Mon: MP CM to officials



BHOPAL: Alarmed by the spate of crimes against women, the state government has decided to install CCTVs at public places and in public transport system. The government also instructed officials to review crimes against women and security through a high-level monitoring committee every Monday. “Women’s safety is government’s priority and police must be ready with all possible security arrangements to ensure that women and girls are able to move freely on the roads even after midnight. Distorted mentality towards women is a social evil and the police, administration and society must work together for awareness in this regard,” said chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan while giving instructions to officials during a crucial meeting to review crimes against women on Thursday. Chouhan also directed chief secretary B P Singh and director general of police (DGP) R K Shukla to ensure tight security for women and one-stop centres in cities for their safety. The chief minister also asked officials to plan strategy and programmes for women safety, ensure safe transportation, install GPS and CCTVs in public transport, intense patrolling in sensitive areas through ‘Dial 100’ emergency service and launch a massive awareness drive to educate girls about ‘good touch and bad touch’.


“We need to keep vigil on activities in girls’ hostels, orphanages and rescue centres and conduct counselling of wardens to be more sensitive towards girls. Police must carry out detailed verification of bus drivers, conductors and operators and establish communication with the inmates to ensure women’s safety,” said Chouhan. The chief minister also instructed to strictly follow norms for conducting activities in wine shops and bars. He said police must gather information about liquor shops running close to religious places, Girls College, hostels and sensitive areas. Wide publicity should be given to women protection laws through media, women helplines and apps, he said. The chief minister also took cognizance of the medico-legal investigation into gang-rape near Habibganj railway station where the doctor had mentioned the rape as “with consent”. The report was later reviewed and changed. The chief minister directed the officials to take appropriate action against the erring doctors.


CM rules out 8pm deadline for coaching centres: Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday ruled out the directive asking coaching centres to wind up by 8 pm for the safety of girl students. MoS, school education, Deepak Joshi had earlier stated that the government would ask all coaching centres to shut their classes before 8 pm to ensure girls’ safety. He had said the centres which wish to continue the classes after 8 pm must ensure security for all girls. “We have decided to direct all coaching centres to wind up their business by 8 pm. If they refuse to do so, they will be held responsible for girl students’ safety after 8 pm,” Joshi had said on Monday after he confirmed that the girl was returning from coaching class when she was gang-raped at a deserted place near Habibganj railway station. The minister’s statement raked up a controversy with women organisations criticising the police and government on failure of law and order in the state and the government’s inefficiency in providing security to women in the state. During a meeting on women’s security, the chief minister ruled out any such compulsion for coaching centres. He said though the government would initiate awareness campaign for public including centres and the girl students, there will be no 8 pm restriction on coaching institutes.



Gurgaon shuts all schools for 2 days as city’s air quality worsens sharply


Gurgaon: The Gurgaon administration ordered the closure of all schools for two days — Friday and Saturday — as the city recorded the second worst air quality index in Delhi-NCR on Thursday. The level of PM2.5, the main pollutant measured by monitoring agencies, shot up to a peak level of 522.90 micrograms per cubic metre — over eight times the national permissible limit of 60 — in the city on Thursday from Wednesday’s peak of 369.93 micrograms per cubic metre. As a result, AQI was reported at 494 in the city, which is considered as ‘severe’. Barring Ghaziabad(499), the AQI levels in Delhi, Noida and Faridabad remained below 490. “All government and private schools in Gurgaon are to be closed for the next two days (November 10-11) due to the continuing smog situation, as per the graded response action plan (GRAP),” deputy commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh said. “We will monitor the situation again on Sunday,” he added. To curb pollution levels, the district administration also implemented some other emergency measures, as listed under GRAP, and vowed to ban construction activities and hike parking fees by three to four times if “the current situation persists for the next 48 hours”. “All heavy traffic will be diverted from entering into Delhi and all brick kilns, hot mix plants and stone crushers will remain shut till further orders. The use of coal/firewood has been banned on hotels and eateries,” Singh said. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and Haryana Roadways have also been asked to increase the number of trips of Metros and buses, while MCG has been ordered to do mechanised sweeping and sprinkling of water day and night on road stretches with high dust generation. “RWAs and house owners have been asked to provide electric heaters to security staff during winters to avoid any kind of burning in the open and residents are advised to use Swachhta app to report cases of garbage burning as special teams have been formed to enforce the ban on waste burning. We will also keep a strict check over construction sites,” the DC said.


While schools and parents have supported the district administration’s decision of closure of schools, greens said the authorities should go after farmers, vehicles and factories that cause pollution and implement GRAP in toto. Arnab Bhattacharya, whose child studies in Heritage School, Sector 62, said, “I don’t want to send my kids to school seeing the high level of haze outdoors. We can’t properly see things around, imagine what the kids are inhaling.” “After Delhi had taken this decision, we were also waiting that Gurgaon administration will also follow suit,” said Raj Kumar, another parent. “The moment we came to know about this order, we had sent a SMS to parents immediately,” said Vaibhav Kapoor, principal of Ajanta Public School, Gurgaon. But, Ansu Singla, principal of Government School, Bhondsi, said the school doesn’t have any facility to send text messages. “We will only be able to put up a notice in front of the school on Friday morning”. Environment experts said that closing down of schools is not the solution. Usman Nasim, research associate (Clean Air and Sustainable Mobility) at Centre for Science and Environment, said, “Shutting down schools due to smog is not the solution. We should go after farmers, cars, factories that cause pollution. This is a temporary solution one which doesn’t have any backing”. “We haven’t seen any single measure of GRAP in place in Gurgaon in the past few days. Despite tall claims made by the authorities this time, nothing has actually happened on ground. It is unfortunate that the authorities are waking up when it is an ’emergency’ situation,” said Niranjan Raje, a former member of Environment Pollution Control Authority.



International News



27 killed, 69 injured as bus falls into ravine in Pakistan



LAHORE: At least 27 people were killed and 69 others injured after a speeding passenger bus fell into a ravine in Pakistan’s Punjab province, officials said on Thursday. The bus carrying more than 100 people was going from Kohatto Raiwind when the accident took place in Kallar Kahartown last night. “The passengers were going to Raiwind to attend an annual religious congregation,” Muhammad Afzal, the Station House Officer of Saddar Police Station said. Thirteen of the injured were rushed to Rawalpindi because of their serious condition whereas many injured were shifted to nearby hospitals, the Dawn News reported. The bus originally was to go to Raiwind via Islamabad- Lahore Motorway but it opted for another route. “The motorway is closed after 10 pm due to smog and overloaded buses are fined on the motorway because of which the driver opted to go through Grand Trunk Road,” Afzal said. “The driver was unfamiliar with this area and he was driving the bus at high speed. The bus fell into the ravine while it was passing through a slope,” he said. Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed grief over the loss of lives and sought a report of the accident. He also ordered the authorities concerned to provide immediate medical treatment and relief to all those injured in the accident, the report said. Road accidents are common in Pakistan. Most of them are caused by careless driving, bad roads and faulty vehicles. In April 2014, some 15 people were killed in a bus crash in Kallar Kahar.



‘$100 billion embezzled’: Saudi Arabia detains 201 in anti-corruption drive



RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday it has detained 201 people as part of a sweeping probe, estimating that $100 billion has been misused through embezzlement and corruption in the past decades. Saudi Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement that 208 people had been called in for questioning since Saturday evening, and that seven people were released without charge, leaving 201 people still in detention. “The potential scale of corrupt practices which have been uncovered is very large,” he said, adding that based on investigations over the past three years, at least $100 billion has been misused through corruption and embezzlement over several decades. Saudi royal family arrests: How the detained and the family are related Critics and observers say the purge that has targeted dozens of top princes, officials, military officers and businessmen is a power grab by the crown prince to sideline potential rivals and critics.


Among those detained earlier are billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and two of the late King Abdullah’s sons, including Prince Miteb who until Saturday had headed the powerful National Guard before he was ousted and detained. The government, however, has declined to name the individuals being questioned, saying it is respecting their privacy during this phase of the process. An estimated 1,700 bank accounts have been frozen belonging to individuals. Al-Mojeb confirmed that action was taken to suspend personal bank accounts, but did not disclose any figures. The government has stressed that only personal banks have been frozen, leaving companies and businesses so far untouched. For years, Saudis have complained of rampant corruption and misuse of public funds by top officials in a system where nepotism is also widespread.

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