News Flash – 10 October 2018

National News



Cash Van Guard foils Rs. 4.5 crores Robbery, pays with his life

BRAVE ACT: Bishambar Singh (inset) resisted the robbers and managed to raise an alarm, forcing them to flee without the money.



New Delhi: A 50-year-old guard paid with his life as he valiantly thwarted a group of armed robbers on DND flyway in Mayur Vihar on Monday night. The men were after the Rs 4.5-crore in cash being carried in the vehicle. The victim, Bishambar Singh, was shot twice — in the head and leg. He died during treatment at hospital. Mahender, the driver of the van, told police that the assailants held him captive for some time before throwing him off the vehicle. The cops said they were verifying his claims. An officer said they received a call from the van custodian, Sandeep Kumar Shukla, about their vehicle having been intercepted by gunmen and the guard being shot. A team was rushed to the spot. By then, Singh had been taken to hospital by a passerby. He died after 12 hours. The cash van belonged to Brinks security agency and there were three people in the vehicle when it was targeted. Shukla told police that they were headed to one of their office in Noida from another in located in Janakpuri. “We left the Janakpuri office at 8.40pm and had reached DND toll around 10pm. Suddenly, the driver of a car behind us — a Scorpio — started honking incessantly.


I moved the vehicle towards the left to give way, but the car came adjacent to us and its occupants started hurling abuses at us,” Shukla said. He said he drove ahead, but the men in the Scorpio followed them and rammed the vehicle into the van. A man stepped out of the Scorpio and walked towards Singh. “He pulled out a pistol and threatened us, and before we could comprehend what was happening, he opened fire. Mahender and I stepped out of the car and started running in different directions. Mahender managed to flee, but my way was blocked by another car. Two armed men threatened to shoot me,” Shukla said, adding that he, however, managed to give them the slip and hide in the bushes. Police said the guard, Singh, continued to resist the robbers and raised an alarm. As a crowd started to gather, the men fled without the money. Shukla said he later emerged from the bushes and was joined by Mahender, who claimed that the robbers had thrown him off the car after divesting him of his phone and cash. Police are trying to verify his claims as well. Additional DCP (East) Jasmeet Singh said they were working on some leads. “Several teams have been constituted and CCTV footage is being scanned”.



Get ready for Traffic crawl: BMC to rebuild 14 bridges


Mumbai: City traffic is in for an even tighter squeeze over the next couple of years as the BMC plans to reconstruct 14 damaged bridges. Officials from the BMC bridges department said one of the structures, a foot over-bridge (FOB) at Yellow Gate in Masjid had already been demolished. The 14 structures, five of which are foot over-bridges, were among 18 that were listed as being beyond repair in a recent civic audit of 296 bridges. The audit also found that 61 bridges needed major repairs while 107 needed minor work. Officials said the tendering process was on for structural repairs to 15 bridges. On July 3, the pedestrian portion of the Gokhale bridge over the railway tracks in Andheri collapsed, a tragedy that claimed two lives. The bridge was subsequently closed for repairs, resulting in traffic chaos in the area. After the Gokhale bridge crash, civic representatives had asked for the audit report of the bridges to be presented without delay.



IBM staffer dies trying to board running Train


The software engineer trying to board the Karjat local at Dadar.



Mumbai: An IBM software engineer, headed for a trek with friends, lost his life while trying to board a running train at Dadar station on Sunday. Police said he slipped off the platform end before getting dragged for nearly 50 metres. For more than 24 hours after his death, his identity could not be established till two commuters found his cellphone on the platform. Police then joined the dots. Sudarshan Choudhury (31) had studied engineering from a college in Sangli and was to tie the knot in two months. “His parents are based out of Nagpur and he had moved here for work. He was the only child and his parents are inconsolable,” said a friend, Sandeep. Early on Sunday, Choudhury left from Malad, where he stayed as a paying guest, and boarded a train. At Dadar, he was to change from Western Railway to Central Railway, and travel to Karjat, where his friends had decided to meet up for the trek. Around 5.40am, Choudhury ran down the staircase of a foot over bridge as the Karjat train started moving. He did not want to miss it as his friends were to board that same local from other stations.


CCTV footage shows him trying to board but getting flung off and slipping down the end of platform 1. Commuters informed police, who found his body 50 metres away, partially stripped off clothes and belongings. Doctors at Sion Hospital pronounced him dead. Police had no lead to establish his identity. Meanwhile, Choudhury’s friends phoned him endlessly but there was no response. Later, two commuters found the phone on the platform at Dadar and handed it over to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) chowky. RPF presumed it had been dropped by a commuter in a hurry to go to work and kept it with them. When Choudhury’s friend rang, the constable informed him about the phone being found. The friend approached GRP to check if Choudhury had been involved in an accident. His parents were subsequently informed. Choudhury’s mother told TOI she and her husband travelled here on Monday to view CCTV footage at the chowky.



Swiggy, Zomato & other apps junk 10,500 ‘unsafe’ Eateries

The move was triggered by a series of complaints received by the regulator about sub-standard food being supplied by restaurants.



New Delhi: Leading e-commerce food delivery platforms like Zomato, Swiggy, UberEats and Food Panda have delisted 10,500 restaurants as they did not have the food safety regulator’s approval. The move comes after a strict directive was issued in July this year by the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) asking ecommerce sites to remove all unlicensed and non-registered restaurants from their listings by September 30. In a latest review of its order, FSSAI found that Zomato has delisted 2,500, Swiggy 4,000, Foodpanda 1,800, UberEats 2,000 partner hotels. Around 200 restaurants on other platforms too have been axed. “These food aggregators have been directed to share the list of delisted Hotels/Restaurants so that action can be initiated against the defaulters under the Food Act,” FSSAI said. It added, once the list is in place, it can be shared with state enforcement machinery for the action against noncompliant food business operators as per the provisions laid down under the food law. FSSAI’s order was triggered by a series of complaints received by the regulator about substandard food being supplied by restaurants. The food regulator had shared a checklist of compliance for hotels and restaurants with the e-commerce sites which they can refer for their internal food safety audits. Zomato and Swiggy have conducted internal food safety audits of some of their partner hotels and restaurants accordingly, the regulator said. According to a FSSAI official, the move is aimed at ensuring that all food operators including the aggregators are under the purview of the law. “It is also the responsibility of the aggregator to ensure that a hotel or a restaurant using its e-commerce platform is compliant to law. Further on in case of non-compliance, the liability is also of the e-commerce platform,” an official said.



Midnight raid leads cops to Arms factory



New Delhi: In the biggest arms bust of the year, the Special Cell of Delhi Police seized a cache of 82 pistols, 124 magazines and several live rounds on Monday night while also unearthing an arms factory located between Delhi and Meerut. Five gun manufacturers from Munger in Bihar were arrested. The kingpin has been identified as Mohammed Shaidullah (37). His associates are Naseem, Shabbir, Imtiaz and Obayed. The operation began around 10pm on Monday and went on till the early hours. Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik applauded the team for the breakthrough. “It was a well-executed operation,” he said. DCP (Special Cell) Sanjeev Kumar Yadav said that a special team, led by ACP Manoj Dixit, had been keeping extensive surveillance on gunrunners to curb the influx of weapons into the city. “On Monday, head constables Parvez and Sumer received information that two members of an illegal arms syndicate would be in Delhi with a cache of weapons. As per the informer, the criminals were to cross Singhu border near the Tikri traffic light on National Highway 1 between 11.30pm and 12.30am,” Yadav disclosed. Teams led by inspectors Vivekanand Pathak and Kuldeep Singh stood vigil at two spots on that stretch with road barricades to slow down the passing vehicles. Around 12.40am, the police spotted a silver Verna car approaching and flagged it down. The driver, however, stepped on the gas and tried to rush his car past the Z path created by the barricades.


When the police teams tried to intercept the vehicle, the driver, later identified as Shaidullah, whipped out a pistol and shot at the cops. When the policemen shot back, the driver appeared to panic and the Verna ground to a halt. The two occupants of the car fled on foot, but were chased and overpowered. “In the search on the car, we recovered 11 pistols from beneath the driver’s seat, while 52 others were recovered from a secret cavity that had been created in the boot of the car by covering the space for spare wheel with fibre sheet and sealed with nuts and bolts,” DCP Yadav revealed. The cops also found that the Verna was stolen from Kalkaji area and was being driven with a fake number plate. Alarmed by the sheer number of the pistols seized, the policemen interrogated the two men on the spot and got the suspects to divulge the details of their factory near Meerut where the weapons were being manufactured. A raid was conducted at the factory which is owned by one Mohammed Furqan, a resident of Meerut. On its premises, police arrested three other men, and recovered 19 more pistols along with raw materials such as springs, barrel, magazine length as well as the apparatus and instruments used in fabricating illegal firearms. Delhi Police informed on Tuesday that the cell has seized more than 600 weapons in the past year during its drive to stop the inflow of illegal arms in the capital.



9 die, 14 hurt in Bhilai plant blast


Raipur: Nine workers were killed and 14 critically injured in a pipeline blast at Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) in Durg on Tuesday morning. All the injured have suffered 80% burns, and the death toll could rise. This is the third accident at the plant in eight weeks. “There were about 25 labourers working on the coke oven site at battery number 11 to repair a gas pipeline when there was a massive explosion around 10.30am. The bodies were flung across the accident site by the blast impact,” IG Durg range G P Singh told TOI, while confirming the death toll. The survivors have suffered over 80% burns and are in hospital, he added. Rescue operation was still underway to clear the area and check if there are any other bodies under the debris. Identification of the bodies is on but it will take some time as they were all burnt beyond recognition, say officials. Witnesses say the blaze that leapt severe metres into the air and smoke and toxic gases hampered the evacuation for several hours. Additional security has been deployed at the hospital where the injured have been admitted, and the plant as well. Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh condoled the deaths.



Cyclone Titli may trigger Heavy Rain on Thursday & Friday


Kolkata: Even as cyclone ‘Titli’ approached the Andhra-Odisha coast from west-central Bay of Bengal at a speed of 8 km/hr on Tuesday triggering the possibility of thundershowers in Kolkata and Gangetic Bengal on October 11and 12, the Met office had a word of hope for Puja revelers. Showers could cease by October 14 and the weather was set to improve once the cyclone moved away, said the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC). It could start raining in Kolkata from Wednesday evening, though. On Tuesday, the deep depression moved west-northwestwards and intensified into a cyclone. It packs a greater punch than the last one — Cyclone Daye — that had fizzed out without much impact, said weathermen. “We expect thundershowers in Kolkata on October 11and 12. It could continue to drizzle on October 13 but the weather could improve after that. Once a big system like a tropical cyclone passes away, it sucks out all the moisture from the atmosphere, thereby reducing the chances of further rain. In case it leaves behind residual moisture, showers could continue. We will have a better idea on Thursday,” said RMC director GK Das.


On Tuesday morning, the cyclone was located about 860 km south-southwest of Kolkata, 530 km southeast of Gopalpur and 480 km east-southeast of Kalingapatnam. According to the RMC bulletin, it was likely to move west-northwestwards for some more time, then northwestwards and then cross Odisha and adjoining north Andhra Pradesh coasts between Gopalpur and Kalingapatnam on the morning of October 11. Heavy to very heavy showers are likely at one or two places in North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hoogly, East and West Midnapore. The showers are likely to continue at these places till October 12. In the coastal areas and those close to them, wind speed could reach 45-55 km/hr and gust to 65 km/ hr along the coast of Bengal and Odisha. Wind speed along the coastal districts of Bengal and north Odisha could reach 75 km/hr on October 10 evening, according to a bulletin released by IMD. Sea condition will remain rough from October 9 to 12 and fishermen had been advised to return to coast by the night of October 8. Wind speed could reach 55-65 km/hr over the sea as Titli approaches. It could touch 75 km/hr over deep sea areas of central and adjoining north Bay of Bengal and gradually rise to 80-90 km/hr from Thursday. Tourists in Digha and the nearby beach resorts have been advised to stay away from the sea. Fishermen have been asked to stay back on the shore till October 13.



International tourists skip TN after faulty Red Alert



Chennai: The Met department’s red alert forecasting heavy rain which turned out to be a false alarm has cost the tourist sector heavily with hundreds of international travelers cancelling their scheduled trips to Tamil Nadu in October, the beginning of the peak season. Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) Tamil Nadu chapter chairman K Pandian said around 300 foreign visitors who booked tour packages have rescheduled their travel plans. “Travelers from various countries including the US and UK were scheduled to visit in eight different groups for up to two weeks. Following the red alert, the tourists chose to fly to a different country,” he said. Each tourist would have spent at least 1000 US dollars during their stay, which includes accommodation, food and transport. “It is a huge loss. The state is getting only 50% of the foreign tourists this October compared to the same period in 2017,” Pandian added. After issuing a red alert on October 7 warning of heavy to very heavy rain, the IMD withdrew it, saying the low pressure in the Arabian Sea had not gained strength. But it had already triggered panic among a section of international travelers, leading to a slew of cancellations. Sriharan Balan, chairman Travel Agents Association of India, Southern Region, said tour operators in the state handle almost 20,000 foreign visitors in October, largely from European countries.


“But the unexpected red alert has caused severe damage, with nearly 1000 of them having cancelled their scheduled trips and about 50% making inquiries to postpone their visit. We are attempting to convince the rest by sending live videos of the current ground situation,” he said. Sources said they were passing on the discounts accrued through appreciation of the dollar against the rupee, traditional gift items and shopping coupons for those re-confirming their tour programmes. Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C),, said, “In light of the red alert issued and withdrawn by the Met department for Tamil Nadu, we have witnessed a hike in inquiries during the last couple of days with travelers seeking to reschedule their tickets. The impact of heavy rainfall in these areas was a matter of concern last month itself, making travelers extra cautious while booking their tickets.” However, as the festive season hits the market, an immediate rebound is expected in terms of bookings being made to various destinations in the state, he added. However, Karan Anand, head relationships, Cox & Kings Ltd, said, “There have not been any cancellations for us as we update our guests on a real-time basis. Tourists travelling to India normally visit more than one state and so if there is an issue at some place, they carry on with the other leg of the tour”.



International News



Next task for Robocars: Developing intuition


Boston: Relative to human motorists, the driverless vehicles now undergoing testing on public roads are overly cautious, maddeningly slow, and prone to abrupt halts or bizarre paralysis caused by bikers, joggers, crosswalks or anything else that doesn’t fit within the neat confines of binary robot brains. Self-driving companies are well aware of the problem, but there’s not much they can do at this point. If driverless cars can’t be safely programmed to mimic risk taking human drivers, perhaps they can be taught to better understand the way humans act. That’s the goal of Perceptive Automata, a Boston-based startup applying research techniques from neuroscience and psychology to give automated vehicles more humanlike intuition on the road. “We see a lot of AI companies working on more classical problems, like object detection [or] object classification,” Ann Cheng, a senior investment manager at Hyundai Cradle said. “Perceptive is trying to go one layer deeper — what we do intuitively already”. This predictive aspect of self-driving tech “was either misunderstood or completely underestimated” in the early stages of autonomous development, said Jim Adler, the managing director of Toyota AI Ventures. With Alphabet Inc’s Waymo planning to roll out an autonomous taxi service to paying customers in the Phoenix area later this year, and General Motor Co’s driverless unit racing to deploy a ride-hailing business in 2019, the shortcomings of robot cars interacting with humans are coming under increased scrutiny.


But no one believes that will be enough to make autonomous cars move seamlessly among human drivers. For that, the car needs to be able to decipher intent by reading body language and social norms. Perceptive Automata is trying to teach machines to predict human behaviour by modeling how humans do it. Sam Anthony, chief technology officer at Perceptive, developed a way to take image recognition tests used in psychology and use them to train neural networks, a kind of machine learning based on how the human brain works. Perceptive has found it’s important to incorporate regional differences, since jaywalking is commonplace in New York City and non-existent elsewhere. “These social norms of how our culture will evolve and how different cultures will evolve with this tech is incredibly fascinating and also incredibly complex”. Even if Perceptive proves capable of doing what it claims, Mike Ramsey, an analyst, said it may also surface fresh ethical questions about outsourcing life or death decisions to machines. Because the startup is going beyond object identification to mimicking human intuition, it could be liable for programming the wrong decision if an error occurs.

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