News Flash – 18 August 2017

National News



CCTV shows five men stone stray to death in Munirka


NEW DELHI: A stray dog was bludgeoned to death by five men in Munirka, south Delhi: a crime that was captured by a CCTV camera. A woman staying in the locality submitted the footage to the police, following which an FIR was lodged. Additional DCP (south) Chinmoy Biswal said efforts were being made to identify the perpetrators who could be Munirka residents. They were seen carrying the dog carcass in a plastic bag after the incident. The footage, a copy of which is with TOI, is dated August 15. It shows the five men in a street at Munirka Village. Three of them approach a mongrel sleeping on the staircase of a shop. They pick up rocks and start hitting the dog on its head repeatedly. One of them then picks up the dog and throws it inside a small corridor to stop blood spilling onto the street. They then wait for a while for the street to be completely clear of human presence. Then one of them brings out a plastic bag in which the dog’s carcass is stuffed. All five men then leave the spot with the carcass.


The dog was fed regularly by a few locals. In the morning, those people couldn’t find it. “Only some blood was lying there. We realised what must have happened. We contacted some shopkeepers who had CCTV cameras installed outside. The footage from one of them showed what had happened,” said a local requesting anonymity. Locals also said that there have been many similar incidents of stray dogs going missing in the locality, leading to fights. Police suspect the men were drunk and killed the animal to eat it. Another resident claimed that the killers are from the same locality and have been accused of killing dogs in the past as well. He said the police had been informed about it, and they had promised to ramp up patrolling in the area, but did precious little. “We have identified the location and filed an FIR under Sections 428 (killing or maiming an animal) and 11 of Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals Act,” Biswal said. Earlier in 2016, CCTV cameras outside Green Park Metro station had recorded a man killing puppies while climbing down the station’s stairs.



Mumbai: Girl jumps off auto to escape kidnappers



Mumbai: Sheer courage and presence of mind helped a13-year-old girl escape from the clutches of her kidnappers, who ab ducted her right from her school campus, in Ghatkopar on Monday. The Class VII student of a school in Ghatkopar, Bhatwadi area, bit one of her three kidnappers and jumped from the auto in which they had huddled her in to flee. Ghatkopar police have started a manhunt for the three men on the basis of the girl’s statement. According to police, the girl had left the classroom to visit the washroom, which was a little distance away but on the campus, on Monday when three men accosted her. “Before she could realise what was happening, the men, their faces covered with handkerchiefs, caught her, dragged her for around 100 metres and then bundled her into an auto,” said Venkat Patil, senior inspector of police, Ghatkopar police station. Though the area was quite crowded, one of the men had clamped his hands on the girl’s mouth, which prevented her from crying for help. But near the Asalfa signal, the girl bit on the left hand of the kidnapper and jumped off the auto. Though she suffered minor injuries, she ran to her aunt’s house nearby, police said. The aunt immediately called up her mother, who rushed to the spot and took her to the Ghatkopar police station.


“They covered my face and I couldn’t see anything. They then took me in an auto but somehow when the auto stopped at a signal, I jumped off it after biting on one the man’s hands,” she said when Mirror contacted her. On Tuesday, the police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against the three unknown accused. The police are also verifying the victim’s claims and are trying to procure CCTV footage of the area. “I visited the spot and found it to be crowded. Also, the lane is very narrow. As per the girl’s statement, the incident took place around 3 pm. It’s really unusual that no one spotted her being dragged into the auto. We are verifying everything,” Patil told Mirror. The girl also told the police that she could not see the auto’s number. “The girl stays with her mother, who does household chores. Her father expired in 2013,” said a police officer from Ghatkopar police station. Local corporator, Deepak Baba Hanade, visited the girl’s house and congratulated her for her bravery. “I congratulated the girl for her courage. The way she took on her kidnappers is remarkable. I told her that she should have shouted for help. But she is a brave girl, I am in touch with senior officers in Ghatkopar and they are waiting for CCTV footage to get a clear picture of the incident,” said Hanade.



Police say honking highest at traffic junctions in South, Central Delhi



NEW DELHI: As many as 472 drivers were challaned on Monday for honking in no honking zones. Police identified 56 traffic junctions to conduct their campaign against honking. They also said that a separate drive to crack down on pressure horns was also started a month ago. Police said incessant honking was the biggest source of noise pollution at those stretches. So they set up three member teams to challan drivers honking too much. Senior officers said honking was the highest at traffic junctions mainly in south and central Delhi and almost all of these were on the Ring Road and Outer Ring Road. Even no honking zones near schools and hospitals weren’t spared by drivers. “We launched the drive to make the people more aware about the existing laws,” said special commissioner (traffic) Sandeep Goel. Officers said it was impossible to detect a car honking too much when the traffic volume is quite high. Checks are conducted only if there are specific complaints about specific vehicles. Also, violations invite only Rs 100 as penalty, which can go up to a maximum of Rs 300.Last year, 1,562 drivers were booked for honking in no-honking zones. Police say the punishment is too light to act as a deterrent in 2011, police had suggested surprise checks in noisy areas identified by CPCB. Concerted drives had been launched around Meena Bazar in Jama Masjid, Anand Vihar ISBT and Sangam Vihar bus stop.



Bengaluru: Bellandur foam covers roads, enters flats

Highly Toxic and vast expanse of white froth polluting Bellandur Lake, in Bengaluru on Thursday.



BENGALURU: Clouds of foam from Bellandur Lake continue to drift on to roads and into people’s homes on Thursday , two days after parts of Bengaluru were flooded. “The foam has crossed the net on both the Yamalur and Bellandur bridges, and is on the roads. My apartment complex is more than 500 metres from the bridge but the foam has reached us as well,” said Seema Sharma, a resident. Sheets of foam have covered the roadside. On Wednesday night, cars and bikes were forced to cut through the thick mess. The Bangalore Development Authority says about 80% of the foam that spilled over is cleared. “On Tuesday, there was foam and froth, but since then, we have cleared about 80% of it. Yesterday, we installed four sprinklers to diffuse the froth and this seems to be working,” said BDA engineer-member P N Nayak. NETIZENS TWEET DISGUST: Pictures of the foam that circulated on social media platforms evoked angry responses from netizens. Vikrant Yadav tweeted, “Bellandur Lake picture is quite scary. Bengaluru’s #BellandurLake spews thick toxic foam”. A few were quick to connect it to the Indira Canteen project. “Ideally, he should have been served the world famous #BellandurLake cream for dessert at the #Indira Canteen,” said Srini Atrey. Ayush’s tweet said, “new shaving cream factory started by #congress in #Bellandur”.


TIMES VIEW:  Once again, the National Green Tribunal is having to prod the Karnataka government into action. It’s a shame that a state government, with all resources at its disposal, has done almost nothing to clean up the lake. Nor is it able to find a solution to the froth in Bellandur Lake, or control the sewage and effluents flowing into it. The civic authorities have had enough time to crack down on the polluting industries and apartment blocks. Residents of the area too have no moral right to complain, when they are partly responsible for the mess. The writing is on the wall: save the lake or watch it die.



Tram trundle in Hyderabad where metro off-track



HYDERABAD: While Hyderabad Metro Rail project is still in the making, the TRS government is exploring avenues to put in place alternative mass transport systems like tramway and monorail for areas in Hyderabad and other cities, which will not be serviced by the Metro. Towards that end, the municipal administration department asked a French firm to conduct a feasibility study for 2.9 km stretch of tramway from Mozamjahi Market to Charminar and Golconda to Quli Qutub Shah tombs. Cost of the tramway project is estimated at Rs 250 crore. Currently, tramway exists only in Kolkata in the country. Government sources said the Centre has called a meeting with state officials to discuss the tramway project and other modes of public transport for Hyderabad and other cities in Telangana. “A meeting was scheduled between Union minister Sujana Chowdhary and municipal administration minister K T Rama Rao for August 12 to dis cuss tramway and other projects, but this was deferred to a future date,” said sources. The tramway project will provide public transport in those areas which won’t have Metro and MMTS access, an official said. Municipal administration department officials said, while the three corridors of Metro rail project will cover the core city , the tramway will cover areas on Inner Ringroad stretches.


“As compared to Metro Rail project which costs `250 crore per km, the tramway or monorail will cost between Rs 100 crore and Rs 150 crore per km. Besides, tramway or monorail project can be taken up on even narrow roads as compared to Metro,” said a senior GHMC town planner, who did not wish to be identified. Confirming the proposal for a tramway project in Hyderabad, Mayor Bonthu Rammohan said the municipal administration department in principle has decided to take up monorail for Warangal city , the second biggest city in Telangana after Hyderabad. “Intamin, a Swiss company, evinced interest in taking up monorail or light rail in Warangal city at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore,” Rammohan told TOI. A team of officials from the Swiss firm met him in the city, few weeks ago to discuss the monorail project for Warangal, the mayor said. The state government has reportedly asked them to take up the project for 15 km stretch from Warangal railway station to Kazipet. According to officials, financial support for the project would be taken from international financial institutions.



Ambulance siren muffled to curb dengue panic



Kolkata: Unable to check the dengue menace, the councilor of South Dum Dum Municipality’s ward 13 has muffled the hooters on ambulances and deployed minders in sensitive zones to muzzle the fear among residents shaken by the spate of deaths. Councilor Prabir Pal has instructed his men to ensure that ambulances ferrying dengue patients from his ward to nursing homes and hospitals don’t use the hooters. “The sound of wailing siren make one’s heart skip a beat. It has been a trying time for everyone. We don’t want people to suffer any more. Ambulance drivers have been asked ply silently so that they do not spread further panic,” explained Jayanta (Bablu) Majumdar, one of Pal’s many henchmen who stand guard in dengue-affected lanes, minding what residents tell when they speak to the media and step in to praise the good work done by the municipality. “We are in control. Didi, why don’t you tell them how much we have been doing to tackle the problem. Right from sprinkling bleaching powder and spraying pesticide to monitoring the construction sites for accumulation of water, the municipality is doing everything,” says Khokhon Majumdar, a minder positioned at Fakir Ghosh Lane to trail journalists on the prowl. Malabika Ghosh, the Didi, nods in agreement. “The municipality is doing a lot. So are residents. Since the outbreak, we have kept windows shut. Mosquito repellents liquids, mats and coils are used indoors 24×7. When at home, we keep children confined to the bed so that they are inside mosquito nets. When they step out, we apply mosquito repellent creams. Floors are being swept with phenyl and other chemicals. I have even searched the internet to find ways to ward off mosquitoes from home and am trying everything possible while praying that something or the other clicks to keep the winged menace at bay,” she said.


In most households in South Dum Dum localities like Purbasthali Camp (ward 12), Purbashtali Madhugarh (ward 13) and Marwari Bagan (ward 14), items to keep mosquitoes away now top the shopping list with spends up 10 times. Fancy deodrants have given way to mosquito repellents. With so much chemicals being sprayed to control the pest, the air indoor in homes across Dum Dum hangs heavy. Inhaling the toxic vapours all day round, many children and elderly have developed breathing problems and allergies. In Madhugarh, where even locals fear to step outside lest they get bitten by an aedes aegypti mosquito, desperate residents are even popping pills and burning incense sticks in the hope that they will ward off the dengue devil. “The councilor has stopped the siren. But how can he control the panic at homes. No one will say how many people have died of dengue this year. What’s the use of spreading fear, reasons his men. The ambulance may have whisked away patients silently to hospitals but when they died, the families performed the Shraddha ceremony. We’ve had five Shraddha in this locality this year, more than ever before. And all of them, from Kartikda to Jayadi to little Sanjib, have all died prematurely of dengue. It will give you the shivers, with or without the hooter,” said Bijoya Poddar.



Despite ban, none booked for smoking in public in TN in 2 years



Chennai: “Smoking will cost you,” will remain a punchline on anti-smoking awareness videos in Tamil Nadu where authorities have become tolerant to public smoking despite a ban, suggests data from the Centre. According to a written reply submitted in the Lok Sabha by Anupriya Patel, minister of state for health and family welfare, between April 2015 and March 2017, not one person was brought to book in Tamil Nadu under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (COTPA) Act, 2003. The act bans actions like public smoking (section 4) and selling tobacco products to minors and within 100 yards of an educational institution (section 6) among others. Since October 2, 2008, when smoking in public was banned in the country, police and health officials, among others, are legally empowered to book those found violating the ban. According to the data, 3,857 people in Tamil Nadu were deemed violators under Sections 4,5,6 and 7 of the COTPA in 2013-14. (Sections 5 and 7 are for offences related to advertising tobacco products and pictorial warnings respectively). Penalty for these offences levied was Rs 5.16 lakh. In 2014-15, the number of offences rose to 18,138 and Rs 23 lakh collected in fines. However, the columns under cases booked and fines collected in Tamil Nadu in 2015-16 was blank and the state failed to provide adequate data for 2016-17. A top police source, requesting anonymity, told TOI that the Centre’s data was a “misrepresentation of facts”, but admitted that COTPA enforcement was a “non priority” area.


“Our priorities are law and order, crime and traffic. The health department could enforce COTPA better,” he said. Sources in the city police added that violations were also being booked under The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Smoking And Spitting Act, 2002. While maintaining that smoking trends in the state had declined by close to 10% in the last decade due to effective implementation of anti-tobacco programmes, Director of Public Health K Kolandaisamy admitted that his department was short staffed to keep tabs on those smoking in public. “Except for Chennai, none of the other districts has a dedicated enforcement squad of health inspectors (to tackle smoking related offences),” he said. “There are difficulties. For instance, during monsoon our priorities shift to fever control. We require as much manpower as we can draw from all quarters,” he added. In June 2016, the Madras high court sought a report from the government about cases booked and fines collected on public smoking. Court documents accessed by TOI revealed that, in Chennai, between July 1, 2016 and February 28, 2017, police booked 141 people for the offence, but only six people were fined Rs 900. According to National Forum for Tobacco Eradication convener Cyril Alexander, the cases booked by the Chennai police didn’t truly reflect the public smoking trend in the city.



International News



Barcelona terror attack: At least 13 people dead, over 100 injured; ISIS claims responsibility

Police evacuate people from the Las Ramblas area in Barcelona.



BARCELONA: At least 13 people were killed on Thursday when a driver deliberately slammed a van into crowds on Barcelona’s most popular street in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group. Police said they had arrested two suspects after the assault, the latest in a wave of vehicle rampages across Europe in recent years. The IS propaganda agency Amaq claimed that “soldiers” from the jihadist group carried out the attack, according to the Site Intelligence Group which monitors Islamist websites. Witnesses told of the panic unleashed in an area thronging with local residents and tourists in Spain‘s second biggest city, as world leaders united in condemning the carnage. “We can confirm there are 13 dead and more than 100 injured,” regional interior minister Joaquim Forn said on Twitter. Belgium said one of its nationals was among the dead. One of the suspects was named by the police union as Driss Oukabir, but there were no further details and police denied earlier reports a perpetrator was holed up in a bar. The famous Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona’s busiest streets, lined with shops and restaurants and normally packed with tourists and street performers until well into the night. Police said there had been a “huge collision” between a van and pedestrians on the thoroughfare and a police source said officers were seeking a total of two suspects. Spain’s royal family condemned the assault in unusually strong terms, vowing that their country would not be “terrorized” by extremists. Witnesses told of scenes of horror, with bodies strewn along the boulevard as others fleeing for their lives. “When it happened I ran out and saw the damage,” local shop worker Xavi Perez told AFP. “There were bodies on the ground with people crowding round them. People were crying. There were lots of foreigners”. Witness Aamer Anwar told Britain’s Sky News television that he was walking down Las Ramblas, which he described as “jam-packed” with tourists. “All of a sudden, I just sort of heard a crashing noise and the whole street just started to run, screaming. I saw a woman right next to me screaming for her kids”. Spain had so far been spared the kind of extremist violence that rocked nearby France, Belgium and Germany.


But it was hit by what is still Europe’s deadliest jihadist attack in March 2004, when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people in an attack claimed by Al Qaeda-inspired extremists. Ethan Spibey, a charity director on holiday in the city, said he and several others had locked themselves in a nearby church. “All of a sudden it was real kind of chaos… people just started running screaming,” he told Sky. “There was kind of a mini stampede”. Tom Gueller, who lives on a road next to Las Ramblas said he saw the van speeding along the boulevard. “It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds in the middle of the Ramblas,” he told BBC radio.. A Greek diplomat in the city said three nationals had been wounded, a woman and her two children. Today’s attack, which followed similar incidents in Britain, Germany and France, drew widespread condemnation. “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help,” US President Donald Trump tweeted. France’s President Emmanuel Macron, whose country has witnessed a series of bloody jihadist atrocities including a truck rampage in Nice in July 2016 that killed 86 people — said his thoughts were with the victims of the “tragic attack”. A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the “revolting attack” and British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Twitter that London “stands with Spain against terror”. The Nice carnage and other assaults including the 2015 Paris attacks on nightspots in the city were claimed by the Islamic State. In another deadly vehicle attack in December, 12 people were killed when a man driving a truck ploughed into a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market. Spain has emerged as a potential target for jihadists, with extremist websites mentioning it for historical reasons, since much of its territory was once under Muslim rule. The authorities in Spain – the world’s third biggest tourism destination – generally remain discreet on the terror threat. But they publicise every arrest of alleged jihadists, most of them detained for propaganda, recruitment for extremist groups or “glorifying terrorism”. According to the interior ministry, more than 180 “jihadist terrorists” have been arrested since 2015.



Threat looms of more mudslides in Sierra Leone amid mass burial

Security forces search for bodies from the scene of heavy flooding and mudslides in Regent, just outside of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown on August 15, 2017.



FREETOWN, Sierra Leone: The government has begun burying the 350 people killed earlier this week in mudslides in Sierra Leone’s capital, and it warned Thursday of new danger from a large crack that has opened on a mountainside where residents were told to evacuate. Another 600 people remained missing from the mudslides and flooding early Monday, as workers sought to recover more bodies from the thick mud and debris of smashed homes. The government hired 600 gravediggers for the burials, which are taking place in a cemetery where victims of the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak that killed thousands in the West African nation were laid to rest. Each person will be buried individually in a dignified manner, said Cornelius Deveaux, deputy minister of information and communications. Dr. Owiss Koroma, the government’s chief pathologist, said the confirmed death toll from the mudslide and flooding was at least 350. A third of the victims are children. Many of the victims were too mangled and decomposed to be identified. Thousands have lost their homes in impoverished, low-lying areas of Freetown and surrounding communities. With more rain forecast for the coming week, further mudslides are possible. The Office of National Security said a crack has opened on the side of a mountain where residents were told to evacuate. The main focus is getting people away from areas still under threat, Zuliatu Cooper, the deputy minister of health and sanitation, told The Associated Press.


“The rains are still pending and there is a possibility that we will have another incident,” he said. “We would rather have structures falling down without people in them”. The mudslides tore apart multistory concrete homes, with their metal reinforcements tangled like threads. On the same hillsides that were stripped bare, fully intact homes stood nearby, with untouched, lush vegetation. Workers searching for bodies picked their way through the debris that included the remnants of daily lives: stools, abandoned shoes. Grieving survivors said they were haunted by thoughts of dead relatives. “Last night, I could not sleep,” said Tenneh Bull, who lost a daughter. “Even now I’m still thinking of her; thoughts of her death is lingering”. Sierra Leone has pleaded for international assistance, while Amnesty International issued a statement accusing the government of failing to learn from similar incidents. “Due to a lack of regulation and insufficient consideration for minimum standards and environmental laws, millions of Sierra Leoneans are living in dangerously vulnerable homes,” said Makmid Kamara, the group’s deputy director of global issues. Many poor areas around Freetown are near sea level and lack good drainage systems, which makes flooding worse during the rainy season. The capital also is plagued by unregulated construction in hilltop areas. Deforestation for firewood and charcoal is another leading contributor to flooding and mudslides.



Al-Qaida’s new terror strategy ‘target train tracks, cause derailment’: Report



LONDON: The al-Qaida terror group is encouraging its recruits to target train tracks and cause derailments in the West as means of spreading “fear” and “lack of security” among people, according to the outfit’s online propaganda magazine. The latest edition of the ‘Inspire’ magazine has 18 pages out of the total 97 pages dedicated to building a device that can take a rail off the tracks and can be built without using any electronic tools “so as to remove any traces for suspicion” and does not require “martyrdom”. “This can be performed by a single person multiple times,” the article notes. “It is time we instill fear and make them impose strict security measures to trains as they did with their air transportation. There will be a state of terror, fear and lack of security among the masses,” it adds. Inspire is the online magazine of the Yemen-based al- Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and the latest article is credited to the group’s master bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri, The Times reported. Fears are growing that al-Qaida is preparing a return to prominence as the Islamic State (ISIS) is increasingly squeezed in Syria and Iraq. The magazine singles out Britain, France and the US for such train track attacks with “derailment devices” and from “inside or outside” as these trains are always crowded. “America’s railroads are estimated to be one third of the world’s railway. So how can they protect 240,000km of railroad… it is practically impossible. The same goes for Britain with 18,500km and France with 29,743km. “It is a daunting and almost impossible task to protect the long railroad length and yet one of the easiest to target. That may result in great destruction,” the article notes.

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