News Flash – 20 June 2018

National News



Jaipur-based choreographer held for hoax plane bomb call



MUMBAI: Hoax calls are taken seriously. A Jaipur-based choreographer who was running late for his Mumbai-bound flight learned it the hard way on Tuesday. He made a hoax call to IndiGo’s call centre saying an explosive had been planted on its 5am Jaipur-Mumbai flight. Mohit Kumar Tank (25) was detained by the CISF on his arrival at Jaipur airport and handed over to the police, who arrested him under sections 505 (statements conducive to public mischief) and 507 (criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication) of the IPC. Deputy commissioner of police (Jaipur east) Kuwar Rastradeep said that Tank has also been booked under Section 3 (D)of the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act, 1982, which attracts a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. According to police, Tank, a frequent flyer to Mumbai, was to take the 5am flight to Mumbai. On realising he would not make it to the airport in time, he dialed the airline’s call centre and warned of a bomb. “He hoped it would lead to confusion and delay the flight. But the flight was already in the air,” an officer told TOI. The airlines, in its statement, said that the IndiGo call centre received a call at 5.30am on Tuesday morning from an unidentified person mentioning a bomb threat to 6E 218 operating a Jaipur-Mumbai flight.


“We immediately reported the matter to the bomb threat assessment committee (BTAC) and followed the security protocol. The concerned authorities carried out the investigation and declared the call a ‘specific bomb threat’,” the statement read, adding that following the clearance by the authorities, operations were resumed as normal. After receiving the call, Indigo went back to its flyers’ list for 6E 218 and realized that one flyer had missed the flight. The airline called up Tank and asked him if he had missed a flight. On getting a confirmation, they lured him with a ticket to Mumbai on the next flight. When Tank arrived at the airport, CISF personnel detained him. In his interrogation, Tank admitted to having made the call. He has told the police that he has worked on some TV reality shows in Mumbai and also teaches dance. “When we asked him why he made the call, he claimed he had to attend some court matter in Mumbai. But we are verifying the claims,” said ACP (Sanganer) Ashok Chauhan.



Mumbai: Narrow escape for 6 schoolchildren as van catches fire


MUMBAI: A private van ferrying six children from a Worli school caught fire near Elphinstone Road station on Tuesday. All six class VII students escaped without injury. The incident took place around 2pm, on S L Matkar Road, near Indiabulls Finance Centre building, when the two boys and four girls from Greenlawns School were heading home in the van hired by their parents, said the Dadar police. A security guard at the finance centre, who witnessed the incident, said: “One of the children had a drop near Indiabulls Finance Centre, but two to three kids also got off. The driver stepped out to ask them to get back in and noticed sparks coming out from under the vehicle. With the help of passersby, he immediately got the other students out of the van and within a minute, it went up in flames.” But the police said all six children were already of the van before the driver noticed the sparks. Two fire engines reached the spot within minutes after receiving the fire call and doused the flames. “Locals armed with extinguishers helped the firemen,” said a local.


The police are yet to take action against the driver, Ravindra Vivekar, as they will first check if his vehicle documents are in order. “The driver told us that the documents got charred in the fire. and he would provide us with photocopies of the same on Wednesday. The cause of the fire has yet not been determined,” said an officer. The school authorities said the van was not in contract with them. The School Bus Owners’ Association raised concern over the use of vans to ferry schoolchildren. “Since five years, we have been fighting against the use of CNG-run school vans and buses, but the transport department has turned a deaf ear. The central transport department rules mandate that vehicles with a seating capacity of less than 13 cannot be used as school bus, but it is not be followed here,” complained Anil Garg, president of the association.



Ambulance vandalism: Locals too scared to talk

Dilkhusha street wears a deserted look two days after some ambulances were vandalised. Shop owners in the area kept the shutters down.



KOLKATA: Two days after four ambulances were vandalized in the Park Circus No 4 bridge area on Sunday allegedly over extortion demands, the area remained tense with residents acting evasive, refusing to even talk about the incident. The victim, Sk Shakil — owner of the ambulances — refused to speak about the incident, claiming he was at least 50km away from the city. He told TOI that he was “very busy” with work and travelling outside the city. “I am at Diamond Harbour. I think things have been sorted out,” he told TOI. Initially, when TOI spoke to Shakil on Monday, he claimed he was a victim of extortion. “Opposing groups function here. They ask for several subscriptions. The problem is that whenever I pay something to one group, the other comes and demands for more,” he had said. An hour later, as TOI stood at the incident spot, some local toughs questioned why we had returned for the second consecutive day. One of them insisted it was a “minor incident involving a simple drunken brawl”. “You are making a mountain out of a molehill,” he insisted. Some other residents of the area feigned ignorance and claimed they were not in the neighbourhood on Sunday. One among them said their entire family was in Bihar and had returned only on Tuesday morning and they had no knowledge of the incident.


But local sources insisted the extortion gang had warned residents against opening up about the incident so much so that even the ambulance owner and driver, who were at the receiving end, claimed to have left Kolkata on Tuesday. The Karaya police said it was yet to receive a formal complaint. “We are yet to receive any complaint. We have registered a suo motu case on the recovery of some bombs from the spot. We are checking CCTV footages,” said DC (SED) Kalyan Mukherjee. A mechanic, whose garage is located next to MB Nursing Home on Dilkhusa Street where the incident took place, said some youths had damaged the ambulances in an inebriated condition. “I do not know the reason behind the incident. But, the ambulances have been repaired and Shakil is said to be happy that the matter has been resolved,” he claimed, refused to be named. Cops said members of the six-odd gangs operating in the 2 sq. km area is intimidating and assaulting people. They demand money from traders even as the realty boom heads towards a slow stagnation. The gangs continue to thrive in the heart of the city because of the growth in illegal constructions and parking mafia, an officer in Lalbazar said.



Coast Guard ship rescues fishermen from flooded boat


CHENNAI: Nine fishermen, residents of Kasimedu fishing village, aboard a boat which went missing early on Tuesday morning were rescued by Indian Coast Guard ship ‘Shaurya’ by evening. The boat ‘Palani Murugan’ was flooded and was stranded 98 nautical miles (150km) off the Tamil Nadu coast when it sent distress signals around 4am. The Coast Guard ship found the boat at 9am with its engine room filled with water. “The sea had been rough. The Coast Guard officers found and rescued us,” said K Sengottivan, one of the fishermen on board the boat. “The boat’s engine was completely damaged and had been rendered useless,” he told TOI. The Damage Control Party aboard ICGS Shaurya undertook an operation to remove water that had flooded the boat’s engine. However, sensing danger from the persistent rough sea and flooding, the boat was abandoned at sea. The crew of ‘Shaurya’, along with the fishermen, made their journey back to Chennai. The rescued fishermen reached Chennai Port around 8pm.



International News



Search on for dozens missing in Indonesia ferry sinking

Local residents and relatives of those missing in Indonesia’s ferry accident.



SIMALUNGUN, INDONESIA: Several hundred rescue personnel were searching for survivors on Tuesday after a boat sank in Indonesia with about 80 people aboard, the national disaster agency said. The wooden vessel was travelling on Lake Toba, a popular tourist destination on Sumatra island, when it capsized Monday afternoon. At least one person has been found dead and 18 others were rescued, authorities said. But local officials said dozens of people are likely still unaccounted for nearly a day after the sinking. “There are 65 people who say their relatives are missing. So we are now searching for them,” Riadil Lubis, head of North Sumatra disaster agency, told AFP. Authorities said they believe the ferry that sank on Lake Toba was operating illegally with no manifest or passenger tickets. It was not clear if any foreigners were on board. TV footage from Monday showed a group of passengers bobbing in the choppy water as a rescue boat approached. Grief-stricken relatives waited for news, including one survivor who lost hold of her child in the confusion. “It happened so quickly,” Juwita, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told TV One.


“I wanted to grab my child but I couldn’t. There were three people stacked on top of him.” The search was called off Monday evening due to bad weather and low visibility, but it resumed Tuesday morning with about 350 personnel involved in the rescue effort. Muslim-majority Indonesia has been celebrating the Islamic festival of Eid since Friday and millions go on holiday during the festivities, with Lake Toba a key tourist destination. The lake fills the crater of a super volcano that is believed to have erupted tens of thousands of years ago. Maritime accidents are common in Indonesia, a 17,000 island archipelago nation where many depend on ferries and other boats to get around, despite lax safety standards. Last week, a traditional wooden boat with about 40 people capsized in the island of Sulawesi, killing more than a dozen people. In 2015, a ferry sank near Sulawesi island leaving 78 people dead.



Yemeni officials say fighting rages around Hodeida airport



SANAA: Fierce fighting raged on Tuesday outside the airport of the vital Yemeni city of Hodeida, pitting thousands of pro-government fighters backed by a Saudi-led coalition against Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels, Yemeni military officials said. The United Arab Emirates-backed Amaleqa brigades, supported by airstrikes and naval shelling from the Saudi-led coalition, have been trying to storm the southern and western parts of the airport, the officials said. However, land mines and Houthi snipers have been hindering efforts to get the airport under government control, they said. “It is a vast, open area and the Houthis have covered the ground with land mines to prevent the forces’ advancements,” one Yemeni military official said. “It’s back and forth battles.” The official said it was a matter of hours before the forces take full control of the airport. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. Witnesses said warships and warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition have been hitting the airport and the east side of Hodeida around the clock since late Monday, aiming at cutting off the main road that links the port province and the capital, Sanaa. Government forces have been trying for days to capture the Kilo 16 road to trap the Houthi rebels inside Hodeida and the western coast and block supplies from coming in from Sanaa.


Witnesses said fighting forced dozens of families to leave their homes in the area around the Kilo 16 road toward the countryside at the east side of Hodeida province. They said the rebels have fortified the area in preparation for a likely coming battle against government forces. Senior Houthi official Mohammed al-Bukaiti confirmed fierce fighting at the southern side of the Hodeida airport. “Battles are raging south of the airport under unprecedented air cover,” he wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, the Saudi-led coalition bombed a bus carrying civilians, killing six people on the outskirts of Hodeida, a senior Houthi-linked health official said. Yahia Sharaf Eddin said four of the dead were women and that the strike took place in the district of al-Gharasi. Witnesses, however, said that the coalition had targeted Houthi fighters, but that shrapnel also hit the bus that was carrying civilians. Earlier in the day, witnesses said another airstrike targeted a tractor driver and his assistant in eastern Hodeida. The driver was digging trenches for Houthi fighters, witnesses said. Both were killed.

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