News Flash – 12 July 2018

National News



Vasai-Virar still flooded but gets power back after 37 hours



Mumbai: The 13 lakh residents of the fast-developing Vasai-Virar belt, whose road links with Mumbai were snapped on Monday and rail links on Tuesday, stayed cut off from the rest of the city for most of Wednesday as well despite respite from rain. Several areas and roads were still waterlogged, autorickshaw and civic buses stayed off the roads, and power supply, disconnected early on Tuesday, was restored to the entire stretch only by 7.45pm – that is, after 37 hours. Locals fell seriously short of essentials as trucks that bring in milk, bread and other items could not reach many areas due to flooding and neighbourhood grocers and other shops stayed shut. Though local trains took off on Wednesday morning, services were restored gradually through the day, and the unavailability of rickshaws and buses made access to railway stations difficult.


Anger mounted as the crisis, which began as rain pounded the belt from last weekend, had still not ended despite a break from the showers. “It is a shame that a region so close to Mumbai remains cut off for so long,” Chinmay Gavankar, a Vasai resident, said. Many families could not step out of their homes for the third day running. “We could do nothing, not even take a bath. There was no water, little water for drinking and no rations with supplies cut. It was like living on an island with no contact with anyone and resources diminishing,” said another Vasai resident, Navin Gupta. Mumbai, too, got relief on Wednesday with the showers stopping for most of the day, but IMD officials said rain could pick up again from July 13.



New flooding spots emerging in city: Civic chief


Mumbai: Mumbai was changing drastically and new flooding spots emerging in the city because of various ongoing infrastructure and mega-housing projects, BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta said on Wednesday, telling members of the civic standing committee that mechanisms suggested by expert’s years ago could not be the only solution to its problems. “We need to think beyond that,” Mehta said at the standing committee meeting. The mechanisms he was referring to are the recommendations of the Madhav Chitale committee after the 2005 floods, which centred around the Brihan Mumbai Storm Water Dain (Brimstowad) project. Recently the BMC said it had found many new flooding spots, mainly where Metro work was in progress, and they had said they were working with the MMRC to find a solution. Mehta however claimed that the number of flooding spots had actually reduced drastically in the city and said the BMC’s effective planning had minimized the city’s waterlogging problems during heavy rainfall on Monday and Tuesday. However, former BMC commissioner Subodh Kumar disputed Mehta’s arguments, stating that the civic authority should first implement the Chitale committee’s suggestions before talking about alternatives. He also said the BMC was slow in implementing the Brimstowad project. Kumar said, “The panel had suggested eight pumping stations, but only six are there. There is no clarity about the remaining two. They may try to hide their slow work by stating that it is because of delay in CRZ clearance, which is not a genuine excuse. First they need to implement the entire project, and if needed think of increasing number of pumps before looking for other alternatives”.


He added, “The basic issue is, we need to have a wider drainage system to take care of rainwater and adequate pumping stations to pump it out. To reduce waterlogging problems, the BMC needs to focus on this. The city is already concertized, find out a solution for its problems”. During the standing committee meeting, Mehta said since the last few years, the civic body had started focusing on individual flooding spots which had helped BMC reduce the number of such spots from 250 to 105. He said that for the remaining spots they were working at the micro level to understand issues and find solutions. Citing the example of Hindmata junction, Mehta said, “We started a pumping station to reduce waterlogging. After that we came to know that the drainage system was not carrying enough water from Hindmata, so we increased its carrying capacity. Afterwards we came to know that tree roots were obstructing drain water flow, so we addressed that issue. All of this has reduced the problem. We need such planning for every spot”. After the meeting, Mehta said that the city’s new problems needed to be addressed with new ideas for quick implementation. The Chitale committee had suggested measures specific to various areas and chronic flooding spots. It had also called for restoration of rivers which had been degraded and said that polluters and encroachers needed to be removed.



Five men decamp with loot, but not before breaking into a jig

ALL IN ONE MORNING: The men targeted five shops in Lahori Gate.



New Delhi: Call it sheer audacity or a foolhardy effort to divert attention, but dancing in front of the CCTV cameras was what a gang resorted to while burgling a series of shops in Lahori Gate early on Saturday. CCTV footage, which emerged only on Wednesday, revealed this bizarre modus operando of five men who made away with cash and valuables after breaking into the shops. The first to be targeted was shop number 1230 from which the men stole cash and items worth over Rs 2 lakh. After this, the group broke into four other shops on the same lane. The break-ins are quite clearly captured by a CCTV camera installed on a pillar facing the shops. The footage shows the quintet stealthily advancing in an adjacent lane and carefully surveying the scene to check for people’s presence. When assured they are alone, the five men jump onto an elevated entrance of the first shop. Within seconds, they successfully break the lock on the shutter and open the glass door. As four of them enter the shop, one of them is seen staying back to dance in front of the CCTV cameras.


Four times during the entry into the five shops, a man wearing a black shirt and blue jeans dances in Bollywood style, ending his performance as soon as his associates exit the burgled store. “The man was well aware of the CCTV camera’s placement and danced looking at the lens,” said a bemused police officer. “He, however, took care to remain in the distance and cover his face with a cloth when he was in the camera’s line of vision”. An officer said he had never encountered dancing burglars of this sort, mainly because thieves are wary of getting captured on CCTV cameras and avoid such antics. “It could be their way of mocking both the shop owners and the police, but we will catch them soon,” the officer said. This curious case came to light on Saturday after the cops received three calls to the police control room about the theft of cash and items worth lakhs of rupees. When police reached the site, they were informed by two other store owners that they too had been robbed. The five victims told the cops that this was not the first instance of theft in the area. A case has been registered at the Lahori Gate police station. A team has been formed to investigate the crime. CCTV footage from areas close to the crime site has been accessed and is being examined for clues to the identity of the burglars.



Theft cases in city up 59% in 3 years: State crime data


Pune: Pune recorded more murder cases than Mumbai in 2017-18 while Mumbai had more instances of robberies, rape cases and thefts than Pune and Nagpur combined. Data obtained from the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB) for the past three years also shows that over 1,300 cognizable crimes were reported in Maharashtra every day on an average in 2017-18. The most significant increase was noticed in thefts in Mumbai—cases rose by 59% in 2017-18 as compared to 2015-16. A key reason for the surge in theft cases, say senior police officers, is recording lost or missing cellphones as stolen. “Many decades ago, theft of bicycles used to show a surge as it was the most common commodity available. It has now been replaced with cellphones. Instructions issued to all police stations is to ensure free and fair registration of offences. The idea here is to protect the phone owner from prosecution if his gadget is used for an illegal purpose,” said a retired IPS officer. Last year, a legislation was made in parts of the US which mandates inclusion of technology which will allow users to lock a stolen handset and render it unusable. “Only a legislation on these lines in India can end cellphone thefts,” says retired DGP Pravin Dixit. Over 260 instances of thefts were reported in Maharashtra every day on an average in 2017-18. “Besides phone thefts, stealing vehicles is on the rise particularly among two-wheelers. The reason is the absence of an alarm or anti-theft device found in four-wheelers. Manufacturers should be compelled to install anti-theft features for two-wheelers,” Dixit adds.


Murder cases in Mumbai fell by 63% in 2017-18 as compared to 2015-16. Fifty-nine cases were reported in Mumbai while Pune recorded 113 such cases in 2017-18. “Most homicides are the result of either crimes of passion or due to relationships breaking down or a result of conflicts due to land disputes, caste or gender-based conflicts. These crimes are more likely to happen in societies marked by greater homogeneity, stronger social bonds and where the political economy is more land- or manufacturing-based,” says Vijay Raghavan, professor, Centre for Criminology and Justice, TISS. “Also opportunities to engage in economic crimes increase as the economy moves from a manufacturing base to service sector base… This is also the reason financial frauds, cybercrimes, etc. are likely to be greater in Mumbai than any other city in India,” adds Raghavan. Mumbai recorded 701 instances of rape, 2,042 night break-ins, 1,041 robbery cases, and 9,897 theft cases in 2017-18, all of which are higher than the combined data for Pune and Nagpur for that year. “There are a range of factors for sexual crimes increasing in Mumbai. Breakdown of relationships where the man and woman have lived together for some time is one reason,” an officer said. “Higher reportage due to increased confidence among victims is another reason and there is a need to up safety measures to prevent such crimes”. Significantly, Nagpur recorded a 53% dip in overall cognizable crimes in 2017-18 compared to 2015-16. “This is possible by involving locals to work alongside cops,” says Dixit.



30 scamsters held for Rs.5cr credit card gift fraud, most from Delhi, 1 from Hyderabad



Hyderabad: Cyber Crime Police, Cyberabad, arrested 30 fraudsters for cheating nearly 2,000 SBI credit card holders to the tune of over Rs.5 crores in the guise of giving gifts. The kingpin Vijay Kumar Sharma (38), a resident of Uttam Nagar, New Delhi, has a jeans manufacturing business there. All accused are residents of New Delhi, expect for Sandeep Bajaj (42) who is from Hyderabad. Bajaj has a cloth shop Jayshree Distributors at Ramgopalpet. Vijay met Sandeep in July 2017 during his visit to Hyderabad to sell clothes and learnt about Sandeep’s debts. Vijay explained to him about the fraud and told Sandeep he had been earning lakhs. Tempted, Sandeep agreed to be a part of the scam. Vijay, through his associates Abhijit Shrivastav, Sita Kumari and Ashutosh Shrivastav, managed to recruit 22 telecallers. His associates had collected data of SBI credit cardholders like their name, mobile number and city name. The rest of the accused were hired as ‘team leaders’ of the telecallers.


The telecallers would call customers pretending to be SBI employees and would obtain their card number, expiry date, CVV, OTP numbers. The accused targeted SBI card customers who were staying in metropolitan cities (Except Delhi) and who could speak English or Hindi. In Sandeep’s case, once the amount was credited to his account, he would remit it to accounts of Vijay, Abhijit, Sita and Ashutosh and retain his share of 15%. Police received a complaint on June 26 from Mrudula Koduri, assistant manager of SBI Cards and Payment Services Pvt Ltd, after she received complaints from customers who lost Rs. 8,500 each from SBI credit card. Twenty-nine accused, including the kingpin, were arrested from Delhi. Sandeep was arrested from Kompally. Police seized material from the accused, including papers containing data, Rs. 80 lakh cash and Hyundai Creta.



Heavy rain lashes city, more expected in coming days

SUDDEN SHOWERS: The evening rain and wind affected commuters as they faced slow traffic and congestion on most of the arterial roads.



Chennai: After intermittent mild rain in the last two days, heavy rain lashed the city on Wednesday evening. In a span of two hours, the city received 2.6cm rain in the core areas while the suburbs received 1.6cm rain with strong winds. The intensity of the rain was high as the roads were flooded. There were two strong spells of rain the first of which began around 5.45pm. Airport recorded wind at the speed of 40knots briefly forcing a few airlines to hold the departure for a few minutes. This caused minor delays to four to five flights between 6pm and 7pm. An official said three arrivals were told to hold and circle before landing. A met department official said severe thunderstorm was forecasted for the day. More rain could be expected on Thursday because of convective cloud and high temperature during the day, he said. The sky would be cloudy and there were chances of rainfall. Minimum temperature is expected to be 25° Celsius and maximum 35° Celsius. There was brief heavy rain in different parts of the city and the suburbs on Tuesday. This pattern may continue for a couple of days, said an official. The evening rain and wind affected commuters as they faced slow traffic and congestion on most of the arterial roads.



International News



Politician critical of Taliban, 19 others killed in Pakistan bombing

Pakistani volunteers carry an injured child to safety after Tuesday’s bombing in Peshawar.



Peshawar: Just two weeks before Pakistan’s general elections, a suicide bomber of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) killed at least 20 people, including senior leader of Awami National Party (ANP) Barrister Haroon Bilour, and injured around 70 in an attack targeted at the meeting of the party on Tuesday night in the northwestern city of Peshawar. The TTP on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the suicide attack in Peshawar’s Yakatoot area, the first incident of terrorism since political parties started campaigning for the July 25 polls. ANP’s opposition to the Taliban has made it a repeated target of terrorists. Several of the party’s leaders and at least 700 of its workers have been killed in the past decade. Eyewitnesses said a suicide bomber blew himself up when Bilour arrived at the meeting. He suffered grievous injuries and was shifted to the nearby Lady Reading Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds. “According to our initial investigation, it was a suicide attack and Haroon Bilour was the target,” said additional inspector general Shafqat Malik.


Bilour, 47, belonged to a prominent political family from Peshawar, the capital of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. His father, Bashir Ahmad Bilour, a former senior minister and ANP leader, was also killed in a suicide attack by the Taliban in Peshawar’s Qissa Khwani Bazar just months ahead of the last elections in 2013. Haroon Bilour was contesting from the same provincial assembly seat on which his father ran for the party. Bilour, who inherited the anti-Taliban mantle of his father, had previously survived two suicide attacks. The Bilour family which provided top-tier leadership for Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Frontier Gandhi)’s anti-British and anti-Pakistan movement in India has suffered immensely before and after partition for their political views. Following the explosion, the Election Commission of Pakistan postponed the polls in PK-78, one of Peshawar’s several provincial assembly constituencies. ANP chief Asfandyar Wali said that the party would observe three days of peaceful mourning, adding that the party would participate in the polls, come what may.



Boys Smile & Wave in First Footage after Cave Rescue


Thailand: The 12 boys rescued from deep within a flooded cave in Thailand made victory signs from their hospital beds on Wednesday in a video from the isolation ward where they’re recuperating from their 18-day ordeal. Parents watched and waved from behind a glass barrier. Another video released on Facebook by the Thai Navy SEALs shows one of the boys being carried through part of the muddy cave on a stretcher covered by a thermal blanket. According to a rescuer, the boys were sedated and passed on stretchers along the cave’s passageways. Junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha said the boys had been given a ‘minor tranquilizer’ to prevent anxiety. The boys lost an average of 2 kg but were generally in good condition and showed no signs of stress, a health official said.

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