News Flash – 22 March 2018

National News



Five critical after fire and compressor blast in Chembur


MUMBAI: Four family members and one of their neighbours sustained serious burn injuries after a fire that started due to cylinder gas leak and a compressor of washing machine blasted at Chembur Camp in Chembur (West) on Wednesday evening. Fire brigade officials said that the fire was confined in the ground floor structure house. They suspect that cylinder gas leakage caused the fire, engaging the washing machine kept nearby. Due to the blast, residents sustained serious injuries. Disaster control room officials said that the injured were admitted into Sion Hospital for treatment. Civic officials stated that the incident occurred around 6pm, when the family members were in the house. Injured are identified as Subhash Kamble (69), Kiran Kamble (40), Manisha Kamble (34), Daksh Kamble (13) and Pooja Hinduja (40). Kiran and Manisha are critical.



Thunderstorm could hit Kolkata later this week



KOLKATA : The city could be lashed by a thunderstorm during the latter half of the week, according to the Met office. Conditions are turning conducive for one and it could strike between Thursday and Saturday. While thunderstorms have eluded Kolkata on three previous occasions — between February 26 and March 17 — this one could have a proper impact, said weathermen. “A circulation over Bihar and Jharkhand could start forming by Wednesday. There has been considerable moisture incursion and the conditions are turning favorable for a thunderstorm. It is still early to predict the storm more precisely, but this could hit Kolkata with a greater intensity than the previous ones that gave the city a miss. We will have a better idea on Wednesday,” said GK Das, director of Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC).


Around a dozen thundershowers hit Kolkata between March and May. But all of them may not be nor ’westers. They form and strike Kolkata when hot air spirals up from the Chhotanagpur plateau. It attracts moisture-laden winds from the Bay of Bengal. When the moisture particles reach a saturation point, they form a cloud which is then drawn towards Kolkata by the high pressure zone that forms over the city following a scorching spell. On February 26, the city had been hit by a late night storm that didn’t qualify as a squall. Last Saturday, too, a thunderstorm had been predicted. It resulted only in light drizzle. The conditions for the storm will ripen from the second half of Thursday. Depending on the movement of the circulation, it could strike anytime from then on. The city, however, could remain warm but dry over the next one week. “It has not been too humid so far. In fact, humidity had dropped sharply on Monday, which led to an evening chill. Over the next 24 hours, it could get more humid,” added Das.



Heist story: How Hyderabad police nabbed jewel thief wanted since ’13


HYDERABAD: Catching ‘jewel thief’ Jayesh Ravji Sejpal proved to be a herculean task for Hyderabad cops. The seasoned criminal took enough precautions to cover his tracks, not obtaining an Aadhaar card and used a SIM card obtained with fake ID proof. Cops even grilled Jayesh’s long-time partner-in-crime Ramesh Chaag, also a wanted criminal in other states, but he too did not know the whereabouts of his former associate. After receiving a complaint from Venkat, a newly-married businessman from Himayatnagar, whose wife’s jewellery was stolen from their Park Hyatt Hotel room by Jayesh, cops tried to track his movement in the city through CCTV camera footage and cell phone records. Soon, police realised that Jayesh, who was seen talking over phone in the hotel lobby, was only pretending to do so. “His phone was off,” an investigator from Banjara Hills police station said. Cops then verified CCTV footage in the city and realised that Jayesh had boarded a green auto near the hotel and went towards Masab Tank. Further analysis of the footage revealed that Jayesh disembarked at Rajdhani Lodge, Nampally. Police team checked with the lodge staff and found that the thief had given a photocopy of a bank passbook as address proof and the receptionist recorded his address in Mumbai, and Kandivali, as the name of the customer. Jayesh also gave a wrong phone number to the lodge staff. After the theft, Jayesh stayed at the lodge for two days and only after seeing his photograph in newspapers, returned to Mumbai. “Jayesh boarded a VRL Travels bus at Afzalgunj and went to Mumbai. He paid for the ticket in cash,” a police official said.


With teams in Mumbai not able to find Jayesh at addresses police managed to obtain from previous investigations, cops searched the databases of Aadhaar and PAN. Aadhaar database did not return any hits, but PAN database gave the much-needed lead. Police discovered that the cell phone number linked to the bank account was not being used by Jayesh anymore, but subsequent technical investigation with the available data led them to his Thane hideout. Police also realised that Jayesh was moving between Vapi in Gujarat and Thane in Maharashtra frequently. Jayesh, a class 10 drop-out, speaks Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi and English fluently. Police said Jayesh acquired the behaviour and dressing skills to fool star hotel staff from his experience of working at hotels in Mumbai and Gujarat in his teenage and early twenties. “A day before committing the heist at Park Hyatt, Jayesh made a bid at Trident Hotel at Madhapur. However, Jayesh could not find any valuables there and since there was no loss of property, a complaint was not lodged. We will produce the culprit before the court on Wednesday. We will initiate proceedings against Jayesh to book him under the PD Act,” deputy commissioner of police (DCP), West Zone, A Venkateswara Rao told TOI.



International News



Scotland Yard’s Indian-origin chief Neil Basu launches new anti-terror campaign



LONDON: Scotland Yard‘s newly appointed Indian-origin counter-terrorism chief, Neil Basu, has launched a new campaign to urge the public to help in the fight against terrorism. The Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations revealed that last year more than a fifth of reports from the public produced intelligence which is helpful to police. “Since the beginning of 2017, we have foiled 10 Islamist and four right-wing terror plots, and there is no doubt in my mind that would have been impossible to do without relevant information from the public,” Basu said at the launch of Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) campaign in London yesterday. “We have been saying for some time now that communities defeat terrorism, and these figures demonstrate just how important members of the public are in the fight to keep our country safe,” he noted. According to the police data, of the nearly 31,000 public reports to the Met Police’s Counter Terrorism (CT) Policing unit during 2017, more than 6,600 (21.2 per cent) resulted in useful intelligence – information which is used by UK officers to inform live investigations or help build an intelligence picture of an individual or group. Research carried out by CT Policing suggests that while more than 80 per cent of people are motivated to report suspicious activity or behaviour, many are unclear exactly what they should be looking for.


The ACT campaign, accompanied by a 60-second film based on real life foiled plots, aims to educate the public about terrorist attack planning and reinforce the message that any piece of information, no matter how small, could make the difference. “Like other criminals, terrorists need to plan and that creates opportunities for police and the security services to discover and stop these attacks before they happen. But we need your help to exploit these opportunities, so if you see or hear something unusual or suspicious trust your instincts and ACT by reporting it in confidence by phone or online,” Basu said. He detailed some forms of suspicious activity, which could involve someone buying or storing chemicals, fertilisers or gas cylinders for no obvious reasons, or receiving deliveries for unusual items, or someone embracing extremist ideology, or searching for such material online. UK security minister Ben Wallace added: “The police’s fantastic ACT campaign is rightly highlighting the vital part that communities are playing in defending this country against terrorism. “The public should remain alert, but not alarmed, and I urge anyone who is worried about suspicious behaviour and activity to follow this advice and report their concerns to the police”.



Singapore passes terror attack blackout law



SINGAPORE: Singapore’s parliament Wednesday passed a controversial law giving authorities the power to block all electronic communications at the scene of a terror attack, despite protests it will erode media freedom. The law allows police to stop anyone within the vicinity of what they deem to be a “serious incident”, including a terror attack, from taking photos and video or communicating about police operations through text and audio messages. The government says the affluent financial hub is a prime target for militants, and that during attacks elsewhere live broadcasts unwittingly helped attackers to anticipate moves against them. However activists argue the law risks further damaging an already poor record what it comes to press freedom in the tightly-controlled city-state. Josephine Teo, the second minister for home affairs, told MPs the measure would only be used in a specific area and would be lifted when security operations are over.


“Reporting is still allowed, just not live reporting. We will allow selected media into the area for later coverage,” she said. Lawmakers voted overwhelming in favour of the measure. Parliament is dominated by MPs from the People’s Action Party, which has governed Singapore for over five decades. When the proposal was tabled in parliament earlier this year, Shawn Crispin, Southeast Asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said it would “black out the news precisely when the public needs to be accurately informed”. Singapore’s domestic press is closely controlled. Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranks the country 151st out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index, with a number-one ranking being the best. Civil society groups have also raised concerns that the term “serious incident” is vaguely defined and could lead to authorities targeting already rare peaceful protests.

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