News Flash – 2 April 2018

National News



Cash handler rigged Bengaluru ATM, fled with Rs 52 lakh


BENGALURU: All through the second week of March, an ATM in Marathahalli seemed to run out of cash all the time. Frustrated customers complained to the bank and after some to and fro, the bank discovered to its horror that they were right. The money to be deposited in the ATM had been spirited away even as the ATM system and the logbook showed a deposit of Rs 52 lakh. Investigations led to the arrest of 22-year-old Paramesh KK, a law college dropout who worked as a driver-cum-cash handler for cash logistics firm CMS Security Agency. On March 9, Paramesh along with a gunman, went to the ATM in Marathahalli to refill cash. While the gunman stood near the vehicle, Paramesh walked in and made an entry in the system and the logbook stating that he had deposited Rs 52 lakh in the machine. He walked out with the cash and went about his work for four days before proceeding on leave. The bank authorities became alert when customers started complaining about lack of cash in the ATM. While the bank officials maintained that cash had been deposited, the customers argued otherwise. It was only on March 17 that bank officials realised that the cash had not been deposited in the machine. They suspected foul play. Subsequently, a complaint was lodged with police”.


With the needle of suspicion pointing to Paramesh and the gunman, the cops started a manhunt. The gunman was found to be innocent and remained put in his job. Paramesh, meanwhile, never returned to work. On March 27, cops traced Paramesh to his native Beekalli village in Kodagu’s Somwarpet taluk. Paramesh had reportedly spent Rs 50,000 and hidden the remaining Rs 51.5 lakh in mud pots in a cowshed. “Paramesh has said he was very frustrated with his working conditions. He used to double up as driver as cash filler. He was hired for a salary of Rs 7,000 per month along with a driving allowance of Rs 300 per day. But he told us that he was denied the daily driving allowance for the last three months and was finding it difficult to pay the rent for his house in Gharvebhavipalya,” a police source told TOI. “As he was aware of the cash filling and tracking mechanism, he decided to exploit the system. But for the complaints from the customers, the heist would have not come in the open and he would have gone scot free”.



3 Army jawans, 13 terrorists and 4 civilians killed in J&K encounters


SRINAGAR: In one of the biggest anti-terror operations in recent years in the state, at least 20 people — three Army personnel, four civilians and 13 terrorists — were killed and more than 50 others were injured in South Kashmir’s Shopian and Anantnag districts on Sunday. As soon as reports of the pre-dawn crackdown by a joint team of the Army, Jammu and Kashmir Police and Central Reserve Police Force spread, clashes erupted between security forces and civilians, who came out of their houses and tried to shield the terrorists, according to police. In retaliatory firing by security forces, four civilians were killed and over 50 others were wounded. Some of them received pellet injuries and were admitted to hospital in Shopian, the police said. The encounters took place in three different areas — Draggad, Kachdoora and Dialgam — in the two districts, in which a total of 13 terrorists was killed, said J&K DGP SP Vaid. Seven terrorists were killed at Draggad and five at Kachdoora in Shopian, while one was killed at Dialgam in Anantnag, Vaid said, adding that a terrorist surrendered when his parents appealed him at the encounter site. In a major success, security forces eliminated two terrorists, identified as Ahmad Malik and Rayees Thokar, who abducted and killed Lt Ummer Fayaz in May 2017 when the Army officer had gone to his hometown in Shopian to attend a wedding, Vaid said.


Vaid said an SSP made special efforts to persuade the terrorists to surrender at Dialgam by calling their family members to ask them to surrender. “Instead of surrendering, one of the holed up terrorists opened fire, prompting security forces to open fire and kill him,” Vaid said. IG SP Pani said internet services were suspended in four south Kashmir districts. “Train services were cancelled as clashes erupted between miscreants and the police at various places in Srinagar. Dozens of vehicles were damaged at Rambagh and other areas of the city. Authorities ordered the closure of all colleges and schools in the Valley on Monday,” Pani added. At a joint press conference at Awantipora in Pulwama district, Lt Gen AK Bhatt, Commander of the Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps, said: “Today is a very special day for security forces. Sunday was the biggest anti-militancy operation in the Kashmir Valley in a long time.” Lt Gen AK Bhatt, however, regretted the death of three Army personnel in the encounter at Kachdoora in Shopian. At the press meet, IG CRPF Zulfikar Ahmad said that security forces had to throw teargas shells and open fire at a rampaging mob in Shopian, resulting in the death of four civilians.


Thousands of people attended the funeral of a terrorist, identified by cop as Rouf Ahmed Khanday, from Dehruna village of South Kashmir’s Islamabad district. They raised “anti-government” and “pro-Pakistan” slogans. A complete shutdown was observed in Islamabad district. Hurriyat members called for a two-day bandh in protest against the killings of the terrorists and the civilians. Separatists, under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership, called for the strike. JRL, comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, asked people to suspend business and other activities. Pakistan violated ceasefire on Sunday by targeting forward locations and civilians areas along the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu. “Pakistani army resorted to unprovoked heavy shelling and firing at Indian positions at Khari Karmara area of Poonch,” police said, adding that there was no report of any casualty.



Seven injured in Govandi house collapse



MUMBAI: Seven persons, including three members of a family, were injured after the ground plus one structure they were staying in collapsed in suburban Govandi today, civic officials said. “A ground plus one structure in a slum in the Rafi Nagar area in Govandi collapsed at around 6 PM. Four people who were in the house at the time of the incident were injured and have been admitted to a nearby hospital,” a Disaster Control Room official said. He added that two fire engines were deployed for rescue operations. The injured comprised a couple, their son, a woman sitting outside the house and three pedestrians, a senior police official said.



Light and smart: Bike helmet with crash detection for safety



HYDERABAD: Amid rising number of road crashes, a city-based lab has designed a high-tech solution—a smart helmet that will enable riders to ensure that emergency contacts are informed immediately of a crash and thus improve the guarantee of emergency response, and treatment within the ‘golden hour’. The high-quality and vintage-inspired designed helmet has been fitted with high-tech sensors and features including invisible Bluetooth integration, an in-built Crash Detection system and a SOS-beacon. “The smart helmet gives riders access to solutions most likely to be used while riding—phone calls, music, maps navigation, intelligent personal assistant—all while ensuring minimal distraction. The crash detection and response system: reduces the risk of missing the “Golden Hour” for medical care when a rider meets with a critical accident by ensuring that emergency contacts are informed immediately and are provided with the GPS location of the crash as well important crash and health information that could assist in delivering emergency medical services. Weighing only 1,270 grams, it also happens to be the lightest smart helmet in the world,” said Anirudha Surabhi, designer of Quin Helmets— a product of Quintessential Design.


Quintessential Design (Quin), is a Minneapolis-based innovations lab which has its research and design lab base in Vikrampuri in Hyderabad. The sensors integrated with the helmet detect any force above 100G as a crash and trigger a Crash Alert signal—that can be switched off manually within 10 seconds, failing which it will send the message for help. When facing an emergency other than a crash, riders can also manually trigger an SOS beacon to call for help on-the-move. This feature was developed in particular for areas where crime and harassment against women are high. Founded in 2017, and having just released their first line of three helmet models, the project has raised $65,774 through an online global crowdfunding platform called Kickstarter. The campaign was designed with a goal of $30,000. According to its makers, the smart helmet will be out in the market in a few months, after which people can purchase them from stores with a price range of Rs12,000 to Rs28,000, depending on the helmet model. “Typically, such helmets with carbon fibre material and technology are sold for anywhere above Rs60,000 while ours is currently priced at Rs28,000. Those who wish to purchase these helmets can do so on our Kickstarter page for exclusive campaign-only discounts,” Surabhi added.



Heat emergencies: Ahmedabad worst hit


AHMEDABAD: As the state braces up for scorching heat, the EMRI 108 services are also expecting rise in heat-related emergencies. According to the data of past four years, Ahmedabad tops the chart with 40% rise in that period among major cities whereas overall rise for Gujarat is 35%. EMRI 108 officials said that among the heat-related emergencies, unconsciousness was the most common symptom in 2014. In 2017, abdominal pain topped the list. Jashvant Prajapati, COO, EMRI Gujarat, said that nasal bleeding, dehydration and blood pressure fluctuation are other common symptoms associated with heat stroke. “Compared to the previous years, we started experiencing the high number of heat-related emergencies right from the end of March. From March 24 to 28, the mercury level rose from 38 degrees to 42 degrees celsius. While the rise for Gujarat was 10% overall, for Ahmedabad it was 30%. We believe that the rise was due to the fact that the temperature fluctuation was sudden. If it were gradual, the number of emergencies might have been less,” said Prajapati. EMRI officials said that the rise in number of heat-related emergencies over the four years is almost uniform across the state. However, central and northern parts of the state are more susceptible to such emergencies compared to southern parts.


“One of the common symptoms is dizziness and fainting. We associate it with sudden change in temperature – if you are working in an air-conditioned environment and you come out in scorching heat, the body does not adjust to it that quickly. There are also issues of unconsciousness and dehydration. It is more associated with prolonged exposure to the high temperature,” said an EMRI official, adding that it is not uncommon to receive the cases related to heat even in the the evening. Officials said that April and May report the highest number of heat-related emergencies and thus the citizens should take care in terms of exposure, intake of fluids and covering body and face while going out. TIMESVIEW: Public education about heat related illnesses is the key for pre-preventing, recognizing and treating disorders at an early stage. But, despite AMC’s heat action plan in place since 2013, there has not been effort to link private hospitals and clinics for reporting heat related cases. The civic body should make efforts for increasing green cover in the city which can reduce ambient temperatures and provide relief.



International News



Hearts ache, anger surges after Siberian mall fire kills 64


KEMEROVO: Trapped in a movie theater in a burning shopping center, 11-year-old Vika Pochankina’s last words came in a panicked phone call to her aunt: “I’m suffocating. Tell Mama that I loved her”. Yevgenia Pochankina told her niece to cover her nose with her clothes to fend off the smoke. “After a moment, she disconnected,” the aunt told The Associated Press. The deaths of 64 people — including 41 children — in a Siberian shopping center fire on March 25 have tormented their loved ones not only with the memories of those they have lost but with deep dismay about the state of life in Russia. The relatives — and many others in Russia — ask why the shopping center’s emergency exits were locked, why the mall’s fire alarms didn’t sound, whether the center ever met building standards or if inspectors were bribed to turn a blind eye to deficiencies. Living in Kemerovo, a Siberian city 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) east of Moscow, they are hurt and angry over what they see as official callousness after the fire. The regional governor didn’t visit the scene, President Vladimir Putin didn’t declare a national day of mourning until two days after the fire, and officials have dismissed their protests over the blaze as political opportunism. “This tragedy reflects all of Russia’s problems — the corruption of officials who closed their eyes to problems with fire safety, uncoordinated work of the special services, the imperviousness of authorities,” said Rasim Yaraliyev, head of a citizen’s group pressing for answers about the fire.


Vika was one of six schoolchildren from the village of Treshchevsky who had traveled 45 kilometers (30 miles) that day to Kemerovo, a trip rewarding them for being good students. As they sat in the theater watching an animated film, a fire broke out in the four-story Winter Cherry mall. Vika and her classmates were among the dead. Teacher Oksana Yevseyeva, the trip’s chaperone, had left the children to watch the movie themselves in the theater while she did some shopping. She was on the first floor when the fire broke out above. “I begged the guards to give me a mask and let me in to the children when the fire started, but they said there is smoke everywhere, you will just die,” she said. Igor Vostrikov, whose wife, three daughters and a sister died in the fire, told the AP that investigators had let him see him CCTV footage from outside the movie theater, showing that the entrance doors to the room where they died were locked by a man who possibly was trying to keep the smoke out until a rescue team arrived. On Saturday, he posted a video apparently showing a woman opening the door to that room as smoke began filling the multiplex’s hallway but she apparently says nothing. The video showed people fleeing other rooms. Six people have been arrested in the case, including the head of the regional construction inspection agency when the shopping center was developed in a former candy factory, and the general director of the company that owns the mall. But distrust in Russian officials’ promises of a thorough investigation is strong.


“They’re not telling us the truth. Judging by everything, nobody saved the children, they closed them off and abandoned them,” said Olga Begeza, whose daughter Diana wanted to go on the trip but couldn’t because her mother didn’t have the 400 rubles ($7) to pay for it. “It seems that our lives don’t count for anything. That’s the only thing my family has understood,” she said. Complaints about official corruption and incompetence are widespread in Russia, and in Kemerovo they are aggravated by what’s seen as an insensitive response from officials. Although Putin visited Kemerovo on Tuesday, he did not speak to a large gathering of demonstrators demanding answers, protesting corruption and calling for regional officials’ ouster. Deputy regional governor Sergei Tsivilyov did show up but incurred the crowd’s anger when he dismissed as “a PR stunt” concerns that the death toll was far higher than officially reported. In a meeting with Putin, regional governor Aman Tuleyev added to the anger by blaming “”the opposition” and “local busybodies” for fomenting the 10-hour protest. In the days after the fire, tens of thousands of people in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities have streamed to makeshift memorials to the fire victims, bringing flowers and stuffed toys. Officials appear concerned that dismay over the fire could encourage protests that could undermine Putin’s mandate just weeks after he won election to a fourth term.


Andrei Klimov, head of the committee for defense of state sovereignty in the upper house of parliament, warned that such protests could be exploited by Western countries that want to weaken Russia, echoing the frequent contention that the West is inherently “Russophobic”. “With every protest, they try to transfer it into the political plane — an example of this is the situation in Kemerovo,” he said Friday. Ksenia Pakhomova, a 24-year-old in Kemerovo, complained that state TV channels were more concerned with Putin’s reputation than with the city’s suffering. “The federal channels are shouting that it’s necessary to unite around Putin, bring condolences to Putin. What is happening? I feel like I am in some kind of anti-utopia,” she said. Russia has a fire death rate far higher than most countries in the developed world. In 2011-15, it recorded 7.5 deaths per 100,000 residents, more than seven times the per-capita fire deaths in the United States, according to the International Association of Fire and Rescue Services. In Kemerovo, some fear that trend will only continue and that others will suffer life-changing losses like theirs. “Such tragedies will be repeated, unless the system of corruption is changed,” said Dmitry Kirillov, whose niece died in the Winter Cherry blaze. “The mourning period will end, but their indifference to people never will,” Begeza said.



7 Indians, 8 others killed in Kuwait as buses collide



DUBAI: Seven Indians were among 15 oil workers killed on Sunday in a head-on collision between two buses in southern Kuwait, Kuwaiti officials said. The Kuwait Fire Service Directorate put the death toll at 15. It said the two buses collided casualty figure, KUNA news agency reported. Firefighters rushed to the scene to rescue the injured. One of them was taken by an ambulance and the other by air to hospital. The firefighters had immediately intervened to help four individuals who were trapped in the wreckage of mangled metal. The Kuwait Oil Company said the buses were transporting employees of contracting firms that work for the company when the accident occurred near Burgan oil field. Seven of the victims were Indians, five Egyptians, three Pakistanis, in addition to two who were injured.



Egypt says 6 terrorists, 2 soldiers killed in Sinai operation



CAIRO: Six terrorists and two Egyptian soldiers were killed last week during a sweeping operation against Islamic State group terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula, the army said on Sunday. The army launched the campaign on February 9 after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who this week won a second term, gave it a three-month deadline to crush IS in the Sinai. Army spokesman Tamer Rifai in a statement said the six terrorists were killed in an exchange of fire in the north of the Sinai, as the army launched a raid against a “very dangerous terrorist cell”. An officer and a soldier were also killed last week and two other troops wounded, he said. During the same period the army arrested more than 500 “wanted criminals” and prevented 169 people of various nationalities from infiltrating across the western border with Libya, the military said. Since the campaign was launched, more than 100 terrorists and at least 22 soldiers have been killed, according to official figures.


Sisi won a second term with 96.9 per cent of valid votes during this week’s presidential election, in which he faced only one candidate, state media reported on Friday. The National Election Authority is scheduled to announce the full official result on Monday.  In November Sisi, a former army chief, issued an ultimatum to the army to crush the terrorists after suspected IS gunmen massacred more than 300 worshippers at a Sinai mosque associated with Sufi Muslim mystics. Security forces have sought to quell attacks by an Egyptian terror group that later declared allegiance to IS since the military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, following mass protests against him. The group has killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in its North Sinai stronghold but also elsewhere in Egypt. The terrorists have also killed scores of Christians in church bombings and shootings.

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