News Flash – 2 August 2017

National News



34 lakh diamond heist at Mumbai expo solved, 2 Chinese held at airport

CCTV footage sourced by Partha Sinha.



MUMBAI: Two Chinese nationals who stole a diamond worth Rs 34 lakh from a gemstone expo in Goregaon on Monday were nabbed within three hours at the airport, where they were waiting for a flight to Hong Kong and Osaka via Delhi. The nerve-wracking case, which saw unusually effective coordination among various agencies-from security heads to immigration and airport authorities-could be cracked only around midnight when the police, after a lengthy interrogation carried out with the help of a Mandarin interpreter, recovered the 5.4-carat diamond from a tiny shampoo bottle that had been packed into a small handbag. Cellphone apps came in handy as the duo’s photographs and other details were quickly shared among the agencies involved. “The show is a very prestigious event for India. The diamond’s recovery was very important,” said Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) director general O P Singh. The CISF was in charge of security at the India International Jewellery Show-2017, held at Bombay Exhibition Center in Goregaon from July 27-31. Entry to the venue was restricted. “An advanced online booking had to be made, with tickets per head being as high as Rs 9,000. The event was not for retailing,” said a senior police officer. Around 3.45pm on Monday, the Gem Jewellery Export Promotion Council(GJEPC) informed the CISF that one of the exhibitors, P Kirthilal and Co, had reported a diamond theft. It said two Chinese nationals (Jiang Changquing, 47, and Deng Xiaobo, 45), under the pretense of striking a deal, had, with sleight of hand, replaced an original diamond with a fake.


The council gave the CISF the duo’s details, which were then circulated on WhatsApp. A hunt was launched, but then CISF senior commandant Himanshu Pandey and his team found on CCTV footage that the Chinese men, one in a red shirt and the other in a full sleeve shirt and hat, had left the premises at 3.25pm. “The two spent nearly two hours at the stall from where they stole the diamond,” said additional CP Rajesh Pradhan. The CISF was faced with two choices: to head for the duo’s hotel, or the airport. It chose the airport. “On the way, information on the duo was sent to DCP Supriya Yadav, who heads the foreigner regional registration office (FRRO), and the chief airport security officer (CASO), KN Tripathy, with a request to prevent the duo’s exit through immigration once they reached there,” said a CISF official. Based on this information, around 6.15pm, immigration officials detected the Chinese duo’s arrival. The flight was scheduled to depart at 7.45pm. “The CISF and immigration team rushed to the security hold, where the duo was apprehended. The two didn’t have any check-in luggage. All they had were two small shaving kit-sized bags,” said Singh. The two had by now changed into black T-shirts.



The two were frisked and their handbags checked and put through X-ray machines. The diamond couldn’t be found. It was evident that the case was far from over. Also, the two didn’t speak English. They were taken to Vanrai police station, Goregaon (East), where a complaint of theft was filed by the diamond company. The CISF, meanwhile, went through the expo venue’s CCTV footage again, suspecting the involvement of a third person. DCP Rathod said that after interrogating the two for seven hours, cops searched their luggage and recovered the diamond from a 5ml shampoo bottle. “Two magnifying glasses stolen from the same stall were also recovered, as were two fake diamonds.” The police said the duo picked up the diamond when an executive at the stall turned around to fetch a box. “The accused had watched the stall for a long time, looking for the right opportunity to strike. The diamond swap took place between 3pm and 3.15pm,” said an officer. The Chinese consulate has been informed of the arrests. The accused were produced before a magistrate’s court on Tuesday.



41 NE women commandos to man frontline defences in Delhi



NEW DELHI: Undergoing training by the best in the business, these 41 women commandos from Northeast may be second to none when it comes to handling a terror strike or a hostage situation. This Independence Day, these elite women cops would helm the security detail at Red Fort and India Gate, amid intelligence inputs of women Fidayeen planning to target the capital. Right now, these women are in the middle of a four-month advance commando training at Jharoda Kalan. Inducted into the force as constables, they have already undergone a rigorous 10-month police training, which they completed with exceptionally good grades. The new commando force is the brainchild of police commissioner Amulya Patnaik. According to special commissioner Dependra Pathak, these commandos will be posted with different units, including Parakram and SWAT. “Many of them will be posted in the anti-terror Parakram vans. As of now, there are 10 such vans and each of them has a women commando. Fifteen more vans will be inducted soon and these commandos will be deployed there too,” he added. An ACP-rank officer, O P Sharma, is heading the training programme. To cross the language barrier, an instructor from the Northeast has been roped in. “These policemen are extremely professional and dedicated towards their training. They can spring from deep sleep to action — fully armed — within a minute of an alarm being sounded. There is an amazing mix of cultures on display at the academy at present,” said Sharma.


The training includes advanced hand-to-hand combat moves from Krav Maga, a form of martial art developed by the Israeli army. Most of these women had joined Delhi Police in 2016. Pressed into action, they can carry out reconnaissance, design maps and begin an assault within 10 minutes of reaching a spot. Each “hit-team” consists of a team leader, two recce officers, a communication specialist, two sharpshooters and a medic. Each commando is armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, or an MP5 submachine gun, with at least four 30-round magazines, a Glock 17 or Glock 26 pistol, hand grenades, a wireless set, a 20-metre nylon rope, a pencil torch, a bulletproof helmet (patka for Sikhs), bulletproof jacket, flame torch, cutter and a commando dagger. Special knee and elbow pads are also worn for protection during stealth attacks. The commandos also learn warfare techniques, such as identifying improvised explosive devices. These commandos are best equipped to handle crises in the capital as their training and combat skills are Delhi-centric — from climbing multi-storey buildings within seconds to rescuing hostages from a room located in the core of a hotel, or a DTC bus or the Metro.



Samaritan turns out to be a fraud, gyps 5 ATM users



MUMBAI: A 31-year-old man was arrested by Malad police after he, on the pretext of assisting people in withdrawing money from ATMs, discreetly replaced their debit cards with inoperative ones and withdrew money from their bank accounts. Sagar Agarwal, the suspect used to carry an array of inoperative debit cards. He positioned himself outside ATMs of those card-issuing banks, looking for vulnerable targets. He has a crime record in Pune. Agarwal, a native of Kondhwa in Pune, was arrested on July 26, which happened to be his birthday. He had planned a birthday bash in Pune and had even made an advance booking at a restaurant, police said. “An individual had approached us with a complaint of cash being fraudulently withdrawn from his bank account at an ATM in Malad West. He told us that a man was standing outside the ATM kiosk and offered to help him in making a withdrawal. Later, the complainant found that apart from the sum that he withdrew with the man’s assistance, an amount of Rs 9,000 had also been debited,” said senior inspector Sudhir Mahadik, Malad police.


The police started to probe and went through CCTV footage at the ATM. Investigations revealed that Agarwal would make a mental note of the Pin number. He would discreetly replace his target’s debit card with an inoperative card of the same bank. After the individual left the ATM kiosk, Agarwal would insert the stolen debit card into the machine and withdraw cash. “He has withdrawn various amounts between Rs 9,000 to Rs. 40,000,” said detection officer Hasan Mulani. “On realising that money had been fraudulently withdrawn from their account, every individual would first get his card blocked. Agarwal saved all such blocked cards to target others,” Mulani added. Agarwal had saved Rs 45,000 for his son’s admission into an educational institute through money obtained by conning. The police have appealed to people to not take the help of strangers for making withdrawals.



‘Alert citizens keep us on toes, help us serve better’

BBMP commissioner N Manjunath Prasad agrees that most complaints on TOI Citizen Reporter app relate to issues that fall under the civic body’s jurisdiction Less



BENGALURU: Giving upright citizenry credit for helping the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike improvise its ways of delivering quality service, BBMP commissioner N Manjunath Prasad says the highest number of complaints received on the civic body’s platform, Sahaya, are related to potholes, pavement encroachment, garbage and stinking storm water drains. He admits that most complaints on TOI Citizen Reporter app relate to issues that fall under BBMP’s jurisdiction. Excerpts: 50% of the complaints received on TOI Citizen Reporter app relate to potholes, garbage, footpaths and lake encroachments. We admit that the highest number of citizen complaints fall under BBMP’s jurisdiction. But we have a robust system to address citizen complaints, and it ensures 90% of the plaints are immediately attended to. There is a standing instruction to engineers of all the wards to scan newspapers and work on issues raised by citizens. Also, a team in the central control room is on the job to look into the complaints and assign them to jurisdictional engineers.


How seriously do you take citizen complaints?. If a complaint has been received through proper channel -our platform or app or newspapers -and has not been unattended to, it’s flagged off at various levels. A detailed report is sent to me every month about the complaints received, their nature, categories, resolution, whether the citizen was informed after our engineers attended to it and time taken to resolve a complaint. Do you think corporators take citizen complaints seriously?. When corporators receive complaints, either from citizens or through citizen reporting, they handle it themselves. They call the area engineers and press them into action. BBMP does not keep a record of complaints that directly reach corporators. Many a times, citizen reporters use TOI Citizen Reporter app after their complaints to BBMP have fallen on deaf ears. This points to loopholes in compliance reports you get. We take immediate action but the results might take time to show on the ground. Repeated complaints about garbage strewn at a particular place are received, and that’s because if a spot is cleaned in the morning, somebody again throws waste there in a few hours. Unless we fix the problem from its roots, there will be no end to this. And doing that will take BBMP some time. Our biggest challenge is to identify the culprits who dump waste in neighborhoods, roadsides or vacant plots.



Kolkata: 10-fold hike in traffic fines from today



KOLKATA: From Tuesday, be ready to shell out hefty traffic fines if you are speeding or racing against other vehicles. The transport department, which has effected change in the West Bengal Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, has issued a gazette notification effective August 1 which proposes nearly 5-10 fold hike in fines for rash driving and bike racing incidents. “The new rules will be effective from Tuesday. These penal measures are aimed at curbing the instances of rash driving, over-speeding and bike racing,” state transport minister Suvendu Adhikari told TOI. Additional commissioner of police (1) Vineet Goyal said the state notification has made the higher fines mandatory. The minister said the fresh notification sought to cap the penalties to the maximum fines. For example, if a particular penal offence has a fine range from Rs 500-Rs 1,000, the offender will be charged the maximum and police will be unable to “compound” the fine. Instead, cops can now slap multiple charges for a single offence, making the offender cough up more. Police said the different sections of Motor Vehicles Act that can be clubbed together include driving at excessive speed, contravening speed limits, driving dangerously, driving when physically or mentally unfit, racing and trials for speed and disobedience of orders. “Earlier, we could hardly charge Rs 300 for speeding. This will be a huge shift, especially in controlling the bikers who break rules often,” said an OC of a central Kolkata traffic guard.


So how will this work? According to officers, a simple offence like speeding will entail a fine of minimum of Rs 300-400. “For racing or performing stunts, it would involve a variety of offences — driving at excessive speed, contravening speed limits and driving dangerously — and attract fines under all three sections. As such, the total amount to be paid to the sergeant will be a big one,” explained a traffic inspector. In addition, the OCs at various traffic guards will have the powers to suspend the bikers’ licences if they are found overshooting the speed limit. “We now have speed guns at Maa flyover, Vidyasagar Setu, AJC Bose Road flyover and EM Bypass. There are also CCTV cameras attached to them. The footages directly reach the guards at Lalbazar control room. Based on evidence, the licences will be temporarily suspended. The process has already begun but the new rules will make our hands stronger,” said an officer at Lalbazar. The new gazette notification will, however, not charge extra for minor offences like jumping the signal line, which will remain Rs 100 for now. “We will be making some necessary changes to our apps that are now being used to issue traffic tickets. We will be also carrying out a proper sensitization programme for both traffic cops and Kolkatans in general. We will begin the process on Tuesday itself, but it might take a couple more days to implement this notification in full,” said DC (traffic) Solomon V Nesakumar. The transport minister said the steep penalties were meant to act as a deterrent. While awareness was a key ingredient of the first phase of the “Safe Drive Save Life” campaign, sources indicated that phase II will focus on prosecution of err-ant drivers.



Chain snatchers go on a spree in Chennai, leave cops gasping



Chennai: Chain snatchers literally had a field day on Monday, robbing 50 sovereigns of gold chains worth nearly Rs 10 lakh from at least 10 women on a single day, leaving the law enforcers at their wits’ end. The robbers, all of them men on bikes, struck at crowded places, including Pulianthope, Mylapore, Kilpauk and T Nagar. Many victims blame police for focusing their energies on creating awareness instead of coming up with a concrete plan to curb chain snatching. In the first incident, Mylapore residents I Mariya Kavitha, 32, and her husband were walking on Santhome High Road when two men on a bike rode close, snatched her five and a half sovereign gold chain and rode away. Based on a complaint, the Mylapore police lifted CCTV camera footage from Santhome High School, close to where the incident occurred, and launched a hunt for the suspects. The same evening, S Sudha, 34, of V O C Nagar in Anna Nagar East was walking home when two men on a bike snatched her 8.5 sovereign gold chain and sped away. The shocked woman lodged a complaint with the Anna Nagar police.


Suryaprabha, 36 of R V Nagar in Anna Nagar had just come out of Chennai Central Railway Station and was crossing Poonamallee High Road when two men on a bike and wearing helmets snatched her 6.5 sovereign gold chain and fled. S Gomathi, 38 of Eight Cross Street in T P Chatram was walking home when two bike-borne men came from behind, snatched the two chains she was wearing and escaped. Later that night, in Mogappair, M Revathi, 30 of Veeramamunivar Street, was returning home on her bike when men on a bike snatched her two chains and sped off. At Kilpauk, K Loganayaki, a 46-year-old teacher at a private school and resident of Taylor’s Road lost her gold chain to snatchers near Ritherdon Road, in Vepery. In Moola Kadai, M Mary Kamala, 48, was walking alone when an unidentified duo on a bike took away her five sovereign chain. Police registered separate cases and began investigations.



International News



At least 34 killed in Madagascar bus crash



ANTANANARIVO: At least 34 people died when a bus carrying young Christian worshippers plunged down a steep ravine in central Madagascar, police and hospital officials said Tuesday. Police said 12 badly burned bodies were counted at the site, 70 kilometres (45 miles) north of the capital Antananarivo. Hospitals said that 22 other deaths had been confirmed after the late-night crash. “The bus struggled to climb a road on a hill and fell down a ravine about 20 metres deep,” police spokesman Herilalatiana Andrianarisaona told AFP. “It caught fire after rolling several times.” Photographs showed the white bus upside down and badly damaged, surrounded by burnt undergrowth. The main hospital in Antananarivo said in a statement it had accounted for 18 dead, while a hospital in the town of Ankazobe near the crash scene reported four dead. Passengers on the packed bus were travelling from the central town of Soavinandriana to a church meeting in the north-western coastal port city of Mahajanga when the accident happened. Madagascan roads are often poorly maintained, with overloaded bus and trucks regularly involved in deadly accidents. In January, 47 people, including 10 children and a newlywed couple, were killed when a truck carrying a wedding party and guests crashed. The vehicle was transporting passengers the day after the wedding. Madagascar, a French colony until independence in 1960, is one of the world’s poorest countries and relies heavily on international donors.



The 6 online ‘challenge’ crazes that could harm or even kill your child



Parents are being warned of six deadly online challenges that could tempt bored children this summer. The “games” involve self-harm, cyber-bullying and the sharing of explicit images, and have even been blamed for suicides around the world. And while many parents may believe their kids are too sensible to get drawn in, child psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos has warned them not to underestimate the pressure youngsters are under to keep up with online trends. Dr. Papadopoulos, an ambassador for web safety organisation Internet Matters, said: “It’s important parents don’t bury their heads in the sand and assume their children would never take part in one of these challenges. “These are just some of the most severe games that have been cropping up, but there might be a number of manifestations, so at the very least they will form the trigger to begin a conversation with your child”. She said many of the challenges were a “modern day version of a chain letter, where the recipient feels under social pressure to take part and pass on”. Dr. Papadopoulos added: “We know that children will be desperately wanting to engage online with their school social group during the holidays as they are not seeing them every day, which will be coupled with a desire to take part and the fear of missing out. “This is natural, but parents can take responsibility to make sure they are doing this safely. We would urge parents to have a simple one-to-one conversation with their child about these types of challenges and give them practical advice on what to do if they encounter anything like this, the risks involved and the consequences”.  An Internet Matters study found more than half of parents were concerned about the influence of their children’s friends online and had concerns about them viewing content or sites that might encourage them to self-harm.


Blue Whale Challenge: WHAT IS IT? Players reportedly follow a series of instructions on social media over 50 days. It starts with watching a scary movie and escalates to extremes, including self-harm. On the 50th day, the participant is told to commit suicide. It has been dubbed a hoax, but disturbing self-harm images have appeared on social media showing cuts carved into the skin in the shape of a Blue Whale. Philipp Budeikin, 22, who claims to have invented the challenge, was this month jailed for three years by a Siberian court for inciting young people in Russia to kill themselves. Instagram issues a warning to users trying to find the “suicide dare game”, directing them to the Samaritans. The challenge has been blamed for the deaths of more than 130 children in Eastern Europe as well as two teenagers in the USA. A number of British schools, including Woodlands School, in Basildon, Essex, have sent warning letters to parents about the challenge. WHAT’S THE RISK? Self-harm, viewing and creating inappropriate content. ADVICE: Internet Matters urges parents to talk to their children about online trends and chat to them regularly about what games their friends are talking about and warn them about peer pressure online. Devices should be set up to stop children finding self-harm sites and images. If you are worried that your child may have come across the Blue Whale challenge contact the Samaritans on 116 123. The Touch My Body Challenge: WHAT IS IT? One person is blindfolded while a second player makes them touch a part of their body and guess which it is. Participants often end up being forced to touch another person’s private body parts, all the time being filmed. Videos of the challenge have been widely shared online in the past fortnight.



WHAT’S THE RISK? Sharing of inappropriate content. ADVICE: Talk to your child about the game and ask them if they have ever seen any Touch My Body Challenges or have ever been asked to take part. Stress that once something is online, it is extremely difficult to get removed. Urge your child to apply the “T-shirt test” when it comes to sharing images, pictures or videos to friends. Would you wear it on your T-shirt? If not, then don’t send it. Explicit content can spread very quickly and affect your child’s reputation at school and in their community, both now and in the future. It could also affect their education and employment prospects. Deodorant Challenge: WHAT IS IT? Also known as the Aerosol Challenge, this is a disturbing endurance game where teenagers film themselves spraying deodorant a few inches from their skin to see who can endure the pain the longest. The challenge has been known to leave children with horrific burns. Parents have spoken out against the craze on social media. WHAT’S THE RISK? Peer pressure, physical injury. ADVICE Have a conversation with your child and find out if they have heard of the challenge or if they know of anyone who has taken part. Talk to them about resisting peer pressure. Remind them of the physical damage this challenge can cause to their body. Also, have a sensible conversation about the emotional damage posting something like this online can have, especially when they are older, as it can never be removed. The Pass-out Challenge (Space Monkey or Choking Game): WHAT IS IT? This gained popularity last year, when children were filmed deliberately choking themselves to the point where they passed out in an attempt to reach a euphoric high. It has been blamed for several deaths, including that of Karnel Houghton, 12, from Birmingham. Just last month, head teacher Paul Ramsey, of Verulam School, in St Albans, Herts, told how he was forced to hold an assembly to warn pupils about the dangers of the online game after he discovered children at the school were trying to play after seeing videos of it on social media.


WHAT’S THE RISK? Physical injury, sharing of inappropriate content: ADVICE: Before they are given access to social media, have a conversation with your child about dangerous trends and urge them to talk to you or a trusted adult if they hear about or see anything worrying. Talk to your child in a relaxed setting so they don’t feel they are being interrogated. Look for signs of the challenge, including bruises on their neck or bloodshot eyes. If you have concerns that your child’s friends may be taking part in a dangerous trend, alert their school. Snapchat Streaks: WHAT IS IT? A Snapstreak is achieved when two people send Snaps back and forth on Snapchat for a consecutive number of days. So for example, if you have sent 250 Snaps to each other, your streak count will be 250. To keep a streak going, you have to send a Snap back to that friend every 24 hours. Miss a day and you lose your Snapstreak count for good. There are a number of online petitions from teenagers urging Snapchat to let them get their streak count back as it has become a tool for evaluating their friendships. They think if they do not have a good Snapstreak count with someone, it tells others they’re not good friends. WHAT’S THE RISK? Parents have complained it has led to cyber bullying if their child was responsible for losing the Snapstreak, and excessive screen time.


ADVICE: Talk to your child about relationships and stress that popularity cannot be measured by an arbitrary number. Remind them an app should not be responsible for their self-esteem or determine who their real friends are. If you have concerns about cyber-bullying, visit The Salt and Ice Challenge: WHAT IS IT? This craze had a resurgence earlier this year. Youngsters place the salt on their skin followed by an ice cube. The salt reduces the temperature of the ice to as low as -26C, which has resulted in horrific burns, similar to frostbite. Similarly, to the Aerosol Challenge, youngsters are filmed doing the challenge to see who can last the longest and outdo their peers. The NSPCC issued a warning at the start of the year urging parents to remain vigilant over the Salt and Ice Challenge. WHAT’S THE RISK? Peer pressure, physical injury. ADVICE: Ask your child if they know anyone who has taken part or if it is something they have heard of. Talk to them about peer pressure and how to say “no”. Discuss the dangers of posting inappropriate videos online and remind them how difficult it is to get content removed.



Explosion inside mosque in Afghanistan’s Herat kills 20: Official



HERAT: A suicide bomber and a gunman killed more than 20 people at a Shiite mosque in Afghanistan‘s main western city of Herat on Tuesday, the latest attack to highlight a deteriorating security situation in the country. The assault on the Jawadya mosque in Herat, which is close to Afghanistan’s border with Iran, came a day after the Islamic State group claimed a deadly attack on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul. “More than 20 bodies, and more than 30 wounded have so far been brought to the hospital,” after the mosque attack, Rafeeq Shirzai, a spokesman for the hospital, told AFP. Herat police spokesman Abdul Ahad Walizada said the assault happened around 8:00 pm (local time) when “a terrorist attack was carried out on a (Shiite) mosque in the third security district of Herat city”. “Based on our initial information two terrorists were involved one of them wearing a suicide vest, who detonated himself while the second one was armed with a rifle. They are both dead,” he added. A reporter for AFP said he had seen a number of bodies brought out of the mosque, leading to fears of a heavy death toll. He reported seeing a body torn to pieces at the entrance, possibly that of the attacker, while others were lying in pools of blood inside, some still crying and moving. Afghan interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish initially said he thought it was a car bomb and tweeted that there was a possibility that it was improvised explosive device.


There was no immediate claim of responsibility but IS has been targeting Shiite minority crowds and mosques in Afghanistan for around a year. The attack comes a day after an attack on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul, which was claimed by the Islamic State group (IS), killed two people. IS has been expanding its footprint in eastern Afghanistan and has recently claimed responsibility for several devastating attacks in Kabul. But experts have previously questioned whether there are direct links between the group’s local affiliate Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-K) and the central IS command. Yesterday, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Iraqi embassy, allowing at least three other militants to breach the compound, unleashing an hours-long gun battle. The interior ministry later confirmed that two people — a woman and a guard — had died and two were policemen injured. A security source, who declined to be named, said IS could prove to be more dangerous than the Taliban in Afghanistan. Unlike the Taliban which has friends and foes among the international community, IS considers everyone their enemy and will keep attacking soft targets, he said.

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