News Flash – 19 September 2017

National News



Bikers shoot at cash van custodian, loot Rs 50 lakh



NEW DELHI: Armed robbers on bikes took away at least Rs 50 lakh from a cash van after shooting at its custodian in northeast Delhi on Monday evening. The incident is similar to the heists that were reported in Rohini and Bhalswa a couple of months ago. The police are probing if the same gang was behind this one too. The van belongs to a cash collection firm. Crime Branch and Special Cell have been roped in to probe the case, police said. The incident took place around 4pm. The van was near the Loni border when the driver had to stop as a bike was parked in the middle of the road. The security guard in the van got down and asked a man standing nearby to remove the bike. However, the man said that the bike was out of order. Right then, four men on two bikes arrived at the spot and removed the keys of the van. When the custodian tried to stop them, they opened fire at him. He was hit in the arm. They then hit the security guard with the butt of the pistol.


Following this, the criminals took the cash bag out of the van and fled. The custodian, Rampath, was taken to GTB Hospital where he was said to out of danger. DCP (northeast) A K Singla said that a case of robbery and attempt to murder was registered and efforts were being made to track the robbers. The employees of the cash collection firm who were present in the van told the police that they were going to Bhajanpura and Yamuna Vihar to give the cash to two different companies. The cash was collected from different workshops of the plastic manufacturing company in Ghaziabad. The police are trying to ascertain if there was an insider involved in the incident who may have given a tip-off to the criminals. All present and former employees of the cash van firm are being questioned for clues. The police are also checking if any employee recently quit the company. CCTV footage from the area is being scanned.



Friend, 3 aides assault, rob man of Rs 1.5 lakh



MUMBAI: A 47-year-old man, Nandu Chavan, was allegedly assaulted and robbed of Rs 1.5 lakh by his friend and his three aides in Borivli (west). According to the police, Chavan was standing near a meat shop on Gorai bridge around 7.30 pm on September 15. His friend arrived in an auto and dragged Chavan into the vehicle. He took Chavan into the bushes behind Pragati School, where his accomplices were already waiting. The group pushed Chavan to the ground and assaulted him with a glass bottle on his head and arms. They also rained kicks and blows on his chest and stomach, and made off with money that was kept in his trousers’ pockets. Chavan lay injured on the ground till a passerby informed the cops. Chavan was badly injured and had to be hospitalized. A case of robbery was registered by the Borivli police against four people.



Neck massage by barber may damage nerve, cause paralysis



NEW DELHI: A haircut at most barber shops in India is followed by a head massage. It often ends with a ‘neck-crack’, when the barber holds you by the chin and tilts the neck sharply to the left and right. Like countless Indian men, Ajay Kumar, 54, came away from the salon feeling refreshed after the haircut-and-massage routine last month. Soon, however, he became increasingly breathless. It turned out that the neck crack had damaged his phrenic nerves that control the diaphragm, which in turn controls breathing. Kumar, a PSU employee, had to be put on mechanical ventilation. “He has been put on non-invasive ventilation for breathing support and may continue to be on it,” said Dr Anand Jaiswal, director of respiratory and sleep medicine at Medanta – The Medicity. Jaiswal said Kumar’s diaphragm was paralysed and he may need ventilator support throughout his life because the nerve rarely regenerates spontaneously. The doctor also cautioned people against getting a neck massage at saloons. “The neck massage and neck-crack that barbers ritually perform after a haircut can cause long-term damage to neck joints and surrounding tissues, muscles or nerves or even cause bilateral diaphragmatic paralysis like in this case,” the doctor said. Breathlessness is often associated with malfunctioning of the heart or lung. When Kumar came to Medanta with the problem about a month back, doctors said they conducted a series of tests to diagnose the problem while treating him for other suspected causes.


When the problem persisted, they looked at medical literature for clues. “While examining him, we noticed Kumar had a paradoxical breathing pattern. His chest was moving inward instead of expanding. This abnormal chest movement affected the breathing pattern and led to a drop in his blood oxygen levels,” Jaiswal explained. He added, “As we investigated the possible reasons for the paradoxical breathing, a neurological examination revealed Kumar was suffering from a damaged phrenic nerve. Because he had no other existing illness to explain it, and literature had some examples about neck-crack causing such problem, we questioned Kumar and found that his neck massage had caused the condition”. In a typical Indian barber shop, it is not uncommon to find customers such as Kumar who like to end their haircut with a massage and a customary neck-crack. People get it done because they find it relaxing and believe a neck massage is a good practice to keep the neck loose. Dr Shakir Husain, director, stroke and neurovascular clinic at Neo hospital, said these neck massages can also lead to dissection of the vertebral artery. “If the dissection or tear is minor, it heals naturally. Blood thinners have to be given for two to three months. But in some cases, surgery has to be done to clear the aneurysm caused due to the tear,” he said. Damage to the artery during neck manipulation is also seen in patients opting for chiropractic therapy for musculoskeletal problems. “It may lead to disabling stroke or fatality,” the senior neurosurgeon said.



Who is to blame when minors take to the roads?


Bengaluru: The city woke to the news of the gruesome death of a 17-year-old, who lost his life early on Sunday morning after a race with his two underage friends went awry. This isn’t the first time that such an incident has come to light, and seeing underage kids popping wheelies on city roads, even during heavy traffic hours, is not uncommon. Sunday’s incident, however, throws up a few questions — who is responsible and what can be done to ensure that such accidents are not repeated?.


SNEAKING OUT CARS IS NORMAL: Teens Jenny Kenneth (name changed) and Savyasachi Kulkarni, both 15, say that it is common for teenagers to steal their parents’ car and bike keys, and sneak the vehicles out when they are not around. “I know many between the ages of 14 and 18 years who do this. There is a fairly deserted road near my house, which is where they race. Sometimes, they even drive to Nandi Hills,” says Jenny, who adds that parents are often not aware of this. So, why do teens take the risk of getting caught, or worse, being in an accident? Savyasachi says, “There are no grounds as such in the city where we can go and play. Races give a sense of adventure. The fact that you’re doing something that you shouldn’t add to the thrill”.


PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IS KEY: When asked what can be done to deter teenagers from indulging in such dangerous acts, both Jenny and Savyasachi say that parental involvement is key. “Parents should maintain open channels of communication with their children. When there is friction between parents and the child, the child can, say, sneak out the car as a result of a fight — just to go against the parents. But if you have a good bond with your child, he/she will be more responsive and responsible when you tell them right from wrong,” say Jenny.


EDUCATION BEGINS AT HOME: Parents No matter how much a child is taught about road safety in school or through other platforms, their parents play the biggest role. For instance, many parents don’t see the harm in teaching their underage kids how to drive within their apartment complexes or on roads close to home. This can be dangerous as children may feel that they are adept drivers, thereby not hesitating while driving by themselves on city roads. When Sugirtharani Hariharan pointed this out to a man in her apartment complex off Bannerghatta Road, she was surprised when she was asked to back off. “Once, a man was sitting pillion while his son, who was in Class 5, was riding a two-wheeler. When I honked, the child lost balance of the bike and his father had to take control. When this happened a few times, I raised my concern on the apartment complex’s social media page. Instead of backing me, the other residents asked me what my problem was and asked me to ‘live and let live’. If that child loses control and comes under the wheels of my car, then it is my problem. Instead of advising their children to wait till they are old enough to drive, they get defensive when you point something like this out. No one takes road safety seriously,” she says.


WEAK LAWS AT FAULT:  Abhishek Goyal, DCP Traffic (East) points out that the legal penalties for offenders on the road are weak and weaker for juveniles. “The laws for such cases, especially in cases involving juveniles, are limited. In most cases, there is hardly any imprisonment. The fines for offences like drag racing is limited to about a few hundred rupees and, at most times, if the culprit is a first-time offender; he is let out on bail. There is a proposal to increase the punishment in instances that are booked under the Motor Vehicle Act and this is currently pending in the Rajya Sabha. We are hoping the revised penalties will ensure such offences are curbed”. However, he points out that cases such as the one on Sunday morning are rare. “Bengaluru, unlike other cities, does not have too many instances of drag racing or wheelies. This incident has come as an aberration, as it happened way past midnight, at a time when things are under check and there is little checking assuming things are under control. In the past one year, there have been 70-odd cases involving bikes, but this is the first time that we have seen a case involving high-end cars. We will study the situation and assess what measures to take to control this problem,” adds Abhishek.



Dengue loses sting by Oct, but water logging keeps vector lethal



Hyderabad: While most dengue cases are generally reported between August and October months, this year, cases started coming as early as the month of June and the vector borne disease is expected to be active till December this year. Doctors and health experts said widespread water-logging in the city is to be blamed for the steep increase in dengue cases. This despite the rainfall having been much less in the month of September as compared to the last year. While last year from September 1 to September 17, 219.3 mm of rainfall was recorded in the city, this year 117.6 mm of rainfall has been recorded. Water stagnation and damp surroundings are conducive for breeding of the Aedes mosquito (that spreads dengue and chikangunia). What makes matters worse is that the Aedes mosquito that spreads dengue, does not require particularly dirty water to breed.


“Even if there is stagnant water in a rubber tire or in a coconut shell it is enough for the Aedes mosquito to breed. Also the fact that the mosquito bites during daytime, makes it difficult to control the spread of dengue. Unlike night, when people use mosquito nets, repellents etc., the day biting mosquitos have a free run,” said Dr Hari Kishan, consultant general physician, Apollo Hospitals Hyderguda, adding that the highly congested city leads to large-scale water stagnation. Residents in various areas complained of stagnation to be an issue for months to get her due to the lack of a proper drainage system. “Even if it rains for a day , we have water stagnation in our areas for the next one to two weeks due to potholes and uneven roads,” said P Krishnaiah, a resident of Madhavapuri Hills road. Meanwhile, as per the latest figures available, the total number of dengue cases recorded `officially’ have now reached 1143 in the state (up to September 15). Telangana state has recorded the fifth highest number of Swine flu (H1N1) cases among all states and a marked increase in number of cases has been reported over the last one month.



West Bengal calls for total safety at schools



KOLKATA: Learning a lesson from the brutal murder of a seven-year-old at the Ryan International School, the Bengal school education department has issued instructions to government and government-aided schools asking them to ensure the safety of their students. CBSE and CISCE have also sent out similar instructions to the schools under their aegis. The state on September 13 had advised schools to stop allowing outsiders into the school compound. In a letter to the district inspectors of schools, the government urged them to put in place a system which will provide complete protection to students in schools. “It is the responsibility of schools to make the child feel comfortable and also throw a safety net around him or her while the child is in the school,” said a source. “The aspect of safety is to be ensured by giving protection to children from outsiders and strangers. The institutes should also give protection to students from any sort of inconvenience or injury,” added the source. At Barasat PCS Government School, there is security deployed at the entrances and exits. “We have guards at the gates. But all schools may not have the opportunity or means to employ security. As a result, at times, outsiders can slip inside the school campuses. In some schools, although there are security personnel, their number is low. As a result, there are gaps in the security net.


The government should sanction more security personnel for the safety of pupils,” said headmaster Narayan Das. The government has also raised an alarm over service and supply of mid-day meals and has asked the schools and district administration to serve it in a hygienic manger. Another major issue which has been addressed in the circular is to put an end to the vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. “Mid-day meals are not completely under control of the schools. In some schools, meals are delivered from a central canteen which caters to several other institutes. Hence, quality control is not always in our hands. The number of students who partake of the mid-day meal are few on regular days. It increases only when the menu is lavish. That’s why we find it difficult to keep count,” said principal of a government-aided school in Jadavpur. Another important aspect which the government has asked schools to look into is cybercrime and cyber threat. In Barasat PCS Government School, cybercrime workshops are regularly held. The school also bars students from accessing unauthorized websites. “We do not allow students to access social networking sites,” said the headmaster.



Private buses halt at Alandur metro station, choke traffic


Chennai: A large number of private omni buses halt at the Alandur metro station every day. With the rush to the Chennai airport at its peak, this leads to chaos and confusion. Despite a warning board put up by the traffic cops and a patrol vehicle stationed at the bus stop, the omni buses park at their own will. Even the few buses that go to the new bus stop earmarked for picking up passengers (near Alandur court) halt in the middle of the road, leading to chaos. Though the law and order wing patrol the area, they shift the blame on to traffic policemen, and remain mute spectators without regularising the omni buses. Apart from crisscrossing the bus stand and putting pedestrians at risk, these buses hinder movement of vehicular traffic, leading to traffic congestion in the area. Traffic police officials said bus drivers continue to break laws with impunity despite being fined for violating traffic rules. The buses arrive at the spot at 10-minute intervals from 6pm to midnight, and stop near the gate to pick passengers going to districts like Madurai, Trichy, Villupuram and Salem. “Walking here has become a task for pedestrians. The buses, besides taking up a lane on the road, are a danger to the lives of pedestrians,” said Girija Narayanan, a regular commuter. “If this lane is usurped by these buses, then where will the traffic move,” she said. “Moreover, the auto rickshaw drivers who throng the place looking to pick up passengers, also occupy space on the road,” said Karthikeyan, a resident of Alandur. “Traffic police should not allow them to halt here, as an alternate place has already been allotted for them,” he added.



International News



London Underground attack suspects from Iraq, Syria

Police officers on Saturday arrested a man who worked at the shop, in connection with the September 15 attack on a London underground tube train carriage at Parsons Green station.



LONDON: The bomb attack on London’s Parsons Greenstation, which left over 30 people injured on Friday, was allegedly facilitated by two refugees – from Syria and Iraq. Although police have not confirmed their identity, sources said one of the suspects was Yahyah Farroukh, a 21-year-old from Damascus. The Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism command arrested Farroukh on Saturday. Farroukh’s Facebook page states he is from Damascus and was studying at West Thames College since 2013. According to reports, Farroukh was arrested on the basis of a CCTV footage, which showed him carrying a bag that resembled the one used to carry out the attack. A spokeswoman at West Thames College said, “We have been asked that all calls about this are directed to Metropolitan Police.” Lecturers at all higher education colleges in the UK are obliged by law to follow Prevent strategy, which means they have to be trained to spot signs of radicalisation and they must act upon it and refer such cases when they come across them.


The 18-year-old, held at Dover port, is believed to be an Iraqi refugee orphan who moved to the UK when he was 15. He was arrested on suspicion of commission and preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. Both men are believed to have spent some time at the home of elderly British foster careers Ronald Jones, 88, and Penelope Jones, 71. The couple has fostered at least 268 children, including refugees from conflict zones, in the last four decades. The couple was named Members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), an honorary recognition awarded by UK, for their services to children and families in 2009. Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, national lead for counter-terrorism policing, said, “There are now two searches continuing at addresses in Surrey and we are getting a greater understanding of the preparation of the device”. UK police have up to 14 days to question the suspects before they have to charge or release them from custody.



Hurricane Maria bears down on battered Caribbean


POINTE-A-PITRE (FRANCE): Islands in the Caribbean still reeling from mega storm Irma braced today for a fresh battering as Hurricane Maria approached, wielding potentially lethal force. In just a few hours, the US National Hurricane Center(NHC) hiked Maria from a Category Two to a Category Four hurricane, packing winds of 209 kilometres per hour that it forecast would strengthen further over the next day or so. “Potentially life-threatening” storm surges, destructive waves, flash floods and mudslides threatened the Leeward Islands — the island group that includes Martinique, Puerto Rico and the US and British Vigin islands — the NHC said. “The eye and the intense inner core is expected to pass near Dominica in the next few hours,” the centre warned in its 2100 GMT (2:30 am IST) bulletin, describing Maria as “an extremely dangerous major hurricane”. The French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe- the bridgehead for aid for Irma-hit French territories — ordered all at-risk zones to be evacuated. The order, effective from 4 pm local time, bars specific areas considered to be at risk of “flooding, submersion and landslips,” according to the statement, issued by the island’s prefect. Islanders on Martinique, which is also part of France, were ordered to stay indoors under a maximum-level “violet” alert. As heavy rain beat down, energy supplier EDF said power had been cut off from 16,000 homes on Martinique, which has a population of some 400,000. Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and the British island of Montserrat are also on alert. In Pointe-a-Pitre, Elodie Corte, the boss of a metalworking company, said there had been frantic preparations to limit the damage from the storm. “We spent the morning strapping down the aluminium to stop it from flying away if the winds are strong,” she said. But she worried that the torrential rains forecast could flood her home.


“We’ll seal everything as tightly as we can and then we’ll certainly go and stay with friends for the night,” she said. Criticised for the pace of relief efforts in their overseas territories devastated by Irma, Britain, France and the Netherlands said they were boosting resources for the Caribbean as Maria approaches. “We are planning for the unexpected, we are planning for the worst,” said Chris Austin, head of a UK military task force set up to deal with Irma, as the British Virgin Islands readied for the storm. On the island of St Martin, which is split between France and the Netherlands, authorities announced a red alert ahead of Maria’s arrival. “We’re watching its trajectory very closely, and we’re preparing for the worst-case scenario,” said local official Anne Laubies. The Dutch navy tweeted that troops were heading to the two tiny neighboring islands of Saba and St Eustatius to ensure security following widespread complaints of looting and lawlessness on St Martin after the first hurricane. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said 110 more soldiers would be deployed to the region to reinforce about 3,000 people already there shoring up security, rebuilding infrastructure and distributing aid. But he warned of “major difficulties” if Guadeloupe is hard hit, noting the territory was “the logistical centre from where we could supply St Martin and organise all the airlifts”. Maria is due to sweep over the south of Sint Maarten — as the Dutch side of St Martin is called — today. The island was among the worst hit by Irma, with 14 killed. Air France, Air Caribe’s and Corsair have cancelled flights in and out of Martinique and Guadeloupe.

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