News Flash – 11 December 2017

National News



Alerts on train delays of over an hour: Railways sends 33 lakh SMSes in a month



NEW DELHI: Railways has sent out more than 33 lakh text messages to passengers alerting them of their trains being delayed for over an hour since it launched the service last month. The service was started for 102 premium trains on November 3 and till December 7, passengers of 23 pairs of Rajdhani and 26 pairs of Shatabdi and one pair each of Tejas and Gatiman trains have received 33,08,632 SMSes sent out by the Railways at its own expense. And now, with the “success” of this service, senior railway officials told PTI that by next year, it will be extended to passengers of 148 other premium trains like Duronto and Suvidha soon, enabling them to plan their arrival at the stations. It will also help the national transporter decongest platforms. The service is sent every hour and will be available for passengers on board as well as on roadside, officials said. Under this service developed by the Centre for Railway Information Systems(CRIS), passengers have to mention their mobile numbers on the reservation slips to avail the facility. The SMS service is a free-of-cost service borne entirely by the railways. While this service is for passengers of premium trains only, there already exists a service for other passengers whereby SMSes are sent to them in case the train in which they have booked their tickets is cancelled or rescheduled. They also get messages if trains are delayed by more than three hours.



Mid-air ‘molestation’: Actor screamed at accused, was in tears upon landing



MUMBAI: A teenage actor travelling business class with her mother on a late-night flight from Delhi to Mumbai on Saturday was allegedly harassed by a frequent flyer when the cabin lights were dimmed in preparation for landing. The passenger has been identified as Vikas Sachdeva, 39, a senior executive with a Mumbai-based entertainment company. Sachdeva was seated right behind the complainant. He allegedly put his foot on the arm-rest of her window seat and stroked her neck and back. After the actor narrated her ordeal on social media, the Sahar police tracked down the accused and detained him on Sunday evening. He was later arrested and will be produced in court on Monday, a police source said. While the actor described the incident online, and several TV channels and websites named her, TOI has taken a conscious decision not to do so as per the law. The police believe the harassment of a teenage film actor on a Delhi-Mumbai flight was a deliberate act, though the accused claimed that he was tired and may have accidentally touched the girl. “She warned him not to touch her, but he continued nevertheless,” a police officer said. After the flight landed around midnight, the accused walked off unquestioned. The 17-year old girl then uploaded the story, shot at Mumbai airport, on Instagram. “He kept nudging my shoulder and continued to move his foot up and down my back and neck,” said the visibly shaken actor in her post. She alleged that the flight crew did not take any action against the passenger, though she raised an alarm by screaming at him.


By Sunday morning, the video had gone viral and voices of anger, shock and protest on social media hit out at the airline and the authorities concerned for apathy. The National Commission for Women and the Maharashtra State Commission for Women took up the case with civil aviation authorities, questioning airline and police inaction. By noon, the Sahar police met the actor at her hotel. “After two hours of convincing, she gave a statement, on the basis of which an FIR was registered against an unknown person under the IPC and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act,” a police officer said. “The police are now quizzing independent witnesses such as co-passengers, besides cabin crew,” an official said. The flight officials said in a statement it has submitted an initial incident report to the DGCA, and details to the police. Aviation sources said Sachdeva, a corporate traveller, told crew upon boarding the flight that he wanted to sleep and should not be disturbed for meals and such. When the flight was descending to land, the actor screamed at the man. “From their jump seats the crew asked the actor what had happened. She continued screaming at the man in seat 2F,” said a source. After the plane landed around midnight, the crew inquired with her, but she deplaned, crying. Later, the crew in-charge looked for the actor and spotted her mother in the arrival hall.


“The crew asked the mother whether she would want to file a case against the passenger, to which she said no,” the source said. “The actor and her mother left the airport after collecting their check-in bags”. A senior DGCA official said, “What we will ascertain is whether the crew acted as it is supposed to when such a complaint is made or not. If the girl had complained to the crew, why was the person against whom the complaint was made allowed to leave? When a passenger complains inside aircraft about some issue, it is the airline’s responsibility to take required action. These are the issues we will examine”. The incident has brought focus to some pertinent questions on sexual harassment on flights, including that if a victim decides to not file a case, should the airline crew let off the accused? Last month, Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, said in an FB post that she was harassed by a business class co-passenger and despite bringing it to the notice of flight attendants of Alaska Airlines they shrugged off her complaint. (Inputs by Saurabh Sinha).



All 940 signals mapped, to help traffic cops deal with congestion


NEW DELHI: A month after TOI reported that traffic police is considering using Google maps for better coordination, the department has outlined a plan. It has decided to use technology in a big way to reduce the reaction time in managing congestion. For this, the department will equip its personnel on the ground with smartphones. All 940 traffic signals in the capital will be marked as separate shortcuts and saved on the map, allowing the staff to obtain real-time update of the situation. A policeman would just need to click on the icon assigned to him to get instant information. “The data uploaded on Google maps regarding traffic congestion is real time and the images captured through satellites show the volume of traffic. Since it uses a GPS-based system, the location of the roads is quite accurate. Therefore, we have decided to use this application to assist us in traffic management,” said Dependra Pathak, special commissioner, traffic. The service generates a live traffic map by calculating the speed of users travelling on a particular stretch. A blue colour on the map will indicate smooth traffic flow; yellow will stand for marginal congestion whereas a major traffic situation will be marked in red. The department recently launched a pilot project where traffic information through screenshots from Google maps were shared through a WhatsApp group. “Initially, 10 corridors were identified from the 28 A-category arteries in the city for traffic monitoring in October. The plan has been expanded to other major corridors, where they will be marked and saved on the map,” Pathak said. The area traffic staff will then be able to keep a real-time check on the situation. Policemen will also use the information to manage diversions and provide alternative routes during festivals and other events. Under this plan, the map would directly update a commuter about alternative routes in case of congestion.



School bus hits lorry at Aliabad, 12 kids injured



HYDERABAD: Twelve students of Government Primary School, Rajanna Siricilla district, who were on their way to Hyderabad for excursion, suffered minor injuries after their bus hit a lorry near Aliabad Cross roads kaman on Sunday morning. Shamirpet police said the injured were taken to a nearby hospital and were given first-aid. Since they suffered minor injuries, they were treated and sent back home after calling their parents. Around 5am, 25 school students along with their teachers started their journey from Siricilla district to reach Hyderabad as part of excursion. The school authorities had hired a bus for transporting the children from classes 2 to 5. At 8.45am, the bus reached Aliabad Crossroads. A lorry was taking U-turn and the bus driver rammed the bus into the vehicle. The front portion of the bus was damaged due to the impact. As the bus was not travelling at high speed, 12 students and bus driver Linga Reddy escaped with injuries. Immediately after the mishap, locals came to the rescue of the injured and shifted them to a hospital besides alerting police. “The bus driver was at fault. A case was registered against him under Section 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the IPC. Of the 12 injured, a student suffered fracture and he was taken to MediCiti hospital,” Shamirpet sub-inspector M Gajender told TOI.



KMC to install CCTV cameras at primary schools in Kolkata



KOLKATA: The Kolkata Municipal Corporation has planned to install CCTV cameras at all its primary schools located across the city. Avijit Mukherjee, the member, mayor-in-council overseeing the KMC education department on Friday said that the proposal of installation of CCTV had already been submitted to mayor Sovan Chatterjee. According to the KMC education department there are 280 primary schools in the city which are managed by the civic body. Apart from installation of the gadget avert any untoward incident, the civic body will need to recruit female attendants, Mukherjee said. The KMC education department will send its team of inspectors to these schools to monitor security of over 20,000 students.



International News



UN calls for urgent evacuation of 137 sick Syrian children



BEIRUT: The United Nations children’s agency says 137 children stranded in a rebel-held suburb near the Syrian capital require immediate medical evacuation amid a crippling siege in which five have died from a lack of medical care. UNICEF says in a statement on Sunday that during a rare international aid convoy to a neighborhood in the besieged eastern Ghouta district at the end of November, its aid workers described one of the worst health and nutrition situations since the conflict began in 2011. UNICEF says 137 children, aged between 7-months to 17-years, require immediate medical evacuation for conditions that include kidney failure, severe malnutrition and conflict wounds. Eastern Ghouta, home to 400,000, has witnessed a tightening siege since 2013. A government bombing campaign killed over 200 people since Nov.14, according to activists.



Hackers steal $64 million in Bitcoin from Slovenian firm



A Slovenian cryptocurrency mining marketplace, NiceHash, said it lost about $64 million worth of bitcoin in a hack of its payment system, the latest incident to highlight risks that uneven oversight and security pose to booming digital currencies. NiceHash matches people looking to sell processing time on computers in exchange for bitcoin. There have been at least three dozen heists on exchanges that buy and sell digital currencies since 2011, including one that led to the 2014 collapse of Mt. Gox, once the world’s largest bitcoin market. More than 9,80,000 bitcoins have been stolen from exchanges, which would be worth more than $15 billion at current exchange rates. NiceHash executive Andrej P Skraba said that his firm was the victim of “a highly professional” heist that yielded about 4,700 bitcoin, worth around $64 million. Sophisticated criminal groups are increasingly targeting the cryptocurrency industry, focusing on exchanges and other types of firms in the sector, said Noam Jolles, a senior intelligence specialist with an Israeli cyber-security company. NiceHash, which advised users to change online passwords after it halted operations on Wednesday, has provided other details about the attack on its payment system. “We ask for patience and understanding while we investigate the causes and find the appropriate solutions for the future of the service,” it said. It was unclear whether customers faced any losses from the hack. Slovenian police said they were looking into the hack, but declined to elaborate.

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