News Flash – 12 January 2018

National News



Is Delhi safer? Police data shows fall in crime in 2017


NEW DELHI: The year 2017 has proved to be a good year for the police in Delhi. After several years, almost all genres of crimes — including crimes against women — have dipped, data released by the police at its annual press conference on Thursday shows. Road fatalities were down as well. According to police data, not only have heinous crimes like murder, dacoity and robbery — the prime indicators of a crime situation in a city — gone down significantly but more cases were solved as well. According to police commissioner Amulya Patnaik, a focused approach to combating crime and strengthening ground level constabulary had resulted in this reduction. “Street crime came under control with a sharp decline in robberies and snatchings by 21.05% in 2017. Insistence on concentrated investigation led to a high rate of detection of heinous cases, which was 87.98% in 2017, as compared to 71.81% last year,” Patnaik said. While the overall registration of crimes increased by around 20% from 2016, Delhi Police said it highlighted its efforts towards proactive and free registration of crime. Patnaik attributed this increase to several factors, including online registration of crimes and the lodging of FIRs on complaints filed by email. He also put out a vision of a tech-savvy police in the making as he announced that the much-awaited joining of a chief technical officer had already happened. Dr A K Mohapatra, earlier head of department (IT) at Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women, will be working with a special commissioner to speed up modernisation projects.


A separate section, the “technology cell”, has been formed to take up initiatives to help the Delhi police switch to technology-aided policing by 2027 and ensure integration of technology and artificial intelligence in day-to-day policing. Patnaik also said police cyber cells would soon be restructured to handle complaints of computer- and bank related frauds. On the anti-terror front, Patnaik said the Delhi police not only initiated a crackdown on terrorists but took a plethora of preventive measures given the various incidents reported in other countries. “In 2017, five terrorist modules were busted and 11 terrorists arrested. Delhi police also launched ‘Parakram’ commando vans mandated to handle terror-related and other serious situations warranting armed response,” he said. On the law and order front, Patnaik spoke about a unique experiment in crowd control. “In this model, senior officers and lady police remained at the forefront, and the anti-riot platoons became the fallback option. This has paid rich dividends this year and potential situations of confrontations have mostly been nipped in the bud. This was done at Parliament Street and Maurice Nagar,” the commissioner said. The police’s chief spokesperson, special commissioner Dependra Pathak, added, “For better service delivery to Delhi citizenry, the police chief had women public facilitation officers (female cops in civvies) as the first point of contact for victims.


For better law and order management, three new districts were made functional. Delhi police will soon get a more cosmopolitan character once 7,300 new recruits, drawn from all over the country, join. Our endeavor will be to carry forward the good work of 2017 into 2018 as well.” To curb crime, the police also took to engaging youths in productive tasks, and even provided them employment. The “YUVA” initiative to engage and steer street children and youth towards the mainstream of society was taken up on a war footing this year by creating facilities at police stations where youth were trained to obtain employment under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna. The Delhi police worked in close collaboration with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for this. Also launched was “Parahri”, which acted a force multipler. This initiative involved the training and sensitisation of security guards and chowkidars to prevent crime.



Fire in Delhi, 5 injured



NEW DELHI: At least five persons were injured in a fire that broke out at a plastic toy warehouse here in Usmanpur area on Thursday, a fire official said. The fire has been put out. According to the Fire office, a call was received at 4.56 a.m. Four fire tenders were rushed to the spot. “The fire that started from the ground floor soon spread to the first and second floor of the building,” he said, adding the fire was doused within one-and-a-half hours. Five persons with minor burn injuries were shifted to Jag Prakash Hospital. The cause of the fire was yet known.



Building fire triggers panic in New Alipore

More than 200 people were working inside the building when the fire broke out on its first floor on Thursday.



KOLKATA: A blaze in an under-construction housing project in New Alipore, where a 4 BHK apartment costs an upward of Rs 2.80 crore, triggered panic in the upscale neighbourhood sending motorists scurrying for cover and owners who parked their vehicles near the building waiting anxiously for the flames to ebb. The fire broke out on the first floor of Ideal Exotica in New Alipore beside the Chetladrainage pumping station a little after noon. More than 200 people were working inside the under construction complex, spread over 250 cottahs. The blaze, fueled by ply boards and inflammable chemicals, gutted a balcony and portions of the first and second floors. Nobody was injured in the fire. Since the housing project is flanked by railway tracks on one side and roads on two sides, there was no danger to any of the apartment blocks nearby. According to a fire department officer, the fire broke out in one of the rooms on the first floor. “The place was stacked with wooden ply boards, chemicals like thinners and cable wires. All the three substances are highly combustible. The fire started when some welding was under way and one of the ply boards caught fire. Five engines worked for over two hours to bring the blaze under control,” he said. An officer said there wasn’t adequate water in a reservoir inside. “There should have been more water inside. We had to ferry water in the fire tenders,” he said.



Goods worth Rs 34 lakh stolen from jeweller in shared auto



AHMEDABAD: A Rajkot-based jeweller has filed a complaint with Satellite police station for theft of gold chains worth Rs 34 lakh. The incident took place on Wednesday when he boarded a shared autorickshaw to go to Panchvati Crossroads from Satellite. According to Satellite police, Mukesh Patadiya, 42, runs Shilp Samrat Jewellers in Soni Bazaar on Palace Road, Rajkot. On January 10, he took a car to Ahmedabad and had got off at Iskcon Crossroads at about 2.45pm. He wanted to board an AMTS bus to CG Road but after learning that the next bus will take some time to arrive, he started walking towards Satellite. “An auto driver then asked him whether he wanted to take an auto. When he said he would like to go to Nehrunagar, the driver pointed to an auto with three persons in it. They told Patadiya to put his bag near their legs so that all could sit comfortably,” said an official. Patadiya soon grew suspicious of the trio and asked the driver to stop near SPIPA and checked the contents of his bag. He found the boxes in which he had kept a total of 67 gold chains seemed lighter than they should have been. Before he could catch hold of the suspects, the auto driver zoomed off with the other passengers. Patadiya’s complaint states that 42 gold chains of different designs were stolen from the bag.



International News



8 earthquakes strike along Iran-Iraq border, rattle Baghdad



TEHRAN (IRAN): A series of eight earthquakes hit the Iran-Iraq border area and rattled even Baghdad and parts of the Iraqi countryside on Thursday, apparently aftershocks of a temblor in November that killed over 530 people. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. The US Geological Survey said seven of the quakes struck near the Iraqi city of Mandali and an eighth struck near Mehran in western Iran. All struck within an hour of each other, beginning at 0659 GMT. Seven had a preliminary magnitude of at least 5, while the eighth earthquake was a magnitude 4. Earthquakes of magnitude 5 and up to 5.9 are classified as moderate. Iranian authorities offered similar figures for the earthquakes on state television. All the information could change as scientists examine the data. Iranian state television said online that people rushed into the streets as the temblors hit. In Baghdad, people felt a quake shake the Iraqi capital, followed by what felt like aftershocks. All the earthquakes struck at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles), according to the USGS. Earthquakes at magnitude 5 can cause considerable damage. The temblors also all were very shallow, which causes more ground shaking and potential damage, particularly in places without strict building codes.


In November, a major 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the same region, killing over 530 people and injuring thousands in Iran alone. In Iraq, nine people were killed and 550 were injured, all in the country’s northern Kurdish region, according to the United Nations. Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with the USGS’ National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado, said the earthquakes all appeared to be aftershocks from the November temblor. The area is located in the sparsely populated and remote Zagros Mountains that divide Iraq and Iran and is home to many shallow faults, he said. “It’s ongoing activity there,” Baldwin told The Associated Press. “If there was a stressed fault that’s ready to move, they happen like that until the stresses are relieved, so it’s not too unusual”. Iran sits on major fault lines and is prone to near-daily earthquakes. In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.



Search goes on for California mudslide victims; death toll at 17

A firefighter stands on the roof of a house submerged in mud and rocks on Jan. 10, 2018, in Montecito, California.



MONTECITO: Hundreds of rescue workers slogged through knee-deep ooze and used long poles to probe for bodies Thursday as the search dragged on for victims of the mudslides that slammed this wealthy coastal town. Seventeen people were confirmed dead and 16 were missing. Family members anxiously awaited word on loved ones who hadn’t been heard from since the onslaught early Tuesday morning. “It’s just waiting and not knowing, and the more I haven’t heard from them we have to find them,” said Kelly Weimer, whose elderly parents’ home was wrecked. The couple, Jim and Alice Mitchell, did not heed a voluntary evacuation warning and stayed home to celebrate Jim Mitchell’s 89th birthday. As search dogs clambered on heaps of wood that used to be homes, mud-spattered rescue teams from all over California worked their way through the ruins of Montecito, an enclave of 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles that is home to celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey. It was left covered with thick muck, boulders, wrecked cars, splintered lumber and tree limbs in a scene Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown likened to a World War I battlefield. County officials said late Wednesday that the death toll stood at 17 and the number of missing had been lowered to 16. After a better look at the damage, officials lowered the number of destroyed homes from 100 to 59 and raised the number of damaged ones from 300 to 446. Overall, 28 people were injured. Twelve remained hospitalized, four in critical condition. By Wednesday, some 500 searchers had covered about 75 percent of the inundated area, authorities said. They had a long slog ahead, filled with hazards seen and unseen.


“A lot of the street signs are gone, the roads are impassable. It all has to be done on foot,” said Deputy Dan Page, chief of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department rescue team. Rescue crews worked up to 12 hours a day and risked stepping on nails or shattered glass, or being exposed to raw sewage, or dealing with leaking gas, Page said. “We’ve gotten multiple reports of rescuers falling through manholes that were covered with mud, swimming pools that were covered up with mud,” said Anthony Buzzerio, a Los Angeles County fire battalion chief. “The mud is acting like a candy shell on ice cream. It’s crusty on top but soft underneath, so we’re having to be very careful”. Crews marked where bodies were found, often far away from a home, and used that information to guess where other victims might have ended up as the surging mud carried or buried them. People in Montecito had counted themselves lucky last month after the biggest wildfire in California history spared the town. But it was the fire that led to the mudslide, by burning away vegetation. “We totally thought we were out of the woods,” said Jennifer Markham, whose home escaped damage in both disasters. “I was frozen yesterday morning thinking, `This is a million times worse than that fire ever was”. Only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of residents fled when ordered, and much of the damage occurred where evacuations were voluntary. It could take days or even longer before the work is finished. “That’s always our mentality: “Hey, we’re going to find someone alive,”‘ Page said. “You never really know. You never know exactly what the human body is capable of”. In 2014, a mudslide in rural Oso in Washington state killed 43 people. The last body was found four months later.

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