News Flash – 23 May 2017

National News



Brains behind petrol pump cheat chips busted in Thane



The person who the police say programmed the chips that rig petrol pumps, and the person who supplied those chips across the country, mainly to UP, have been arrested from Thane and Pune in a joint operation by the Thane police and the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF). Vivek Shetye (47) and Avinash Naik (37) are suspected to have been involved in the racket for a decade. They helped unscrupulous petrol pump owners cheat customers by dispensing lower quantities of fuel than ordered. “It is a major breakthrough,” said Thane police commissioner Param Bir Singh. He has not ruled out the possibility of petrol pumps in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) being rigged. Shetye is a highly qualified engineer. An electronics and physics MSc, he owns a workshop, Micro CKT, in Dombivli. Naik, a smart technician, works with a Pune based company and is the proprietor of a security systems and home automation firm. The duo has no criminal record. The police believe they are the most crucial parts of a multi-link chain that is used to operate the racket, suspected to be nationwide in scope. A source said each chip initially cost Rs 3,000, and after Shetye’s reprogramming, would be sold for Rs 10,000 to agents connected with petrol pump operators.

Last month, over two dozen persons were arrested after the UP STF raided a number of petrol pumps in that state (on April 27) and found them tampered. A case was registered at the capital, Lucknow. “Upon deep interrogation, the STF found that the main suppliers of the gadgets were Shetye and Naik. So, they approached the Thane police, who aided them to nab the duo,” Singh said. Naik was arrested from his Pune home and Shetye from his Dombivli residence on Sunday evening. Upon searching their homes, the police found a huge number of the relevant electronic devices: finished and semi-finished chips, parts of petrol pump machinery, and remote controls. The seized material includes 110 microchips, 177 remote controls and one oscilloscope (see graphic for full list). “The STF is investigating all the uses of the seized devices,” Singh said. The Thane police team was led by senior inspector Nitin Thakare. There are clear indications that the duo was involved in the chips’ manufacture, and later installation at petrol pumps, said an officer. On whether consumers in MMR should be wary, Singh said, “There is a high likelihood that petrol pumps here are rigged. We are investigating”. An UP STF official said, “Shetye and Naik’s chip would help a petrol pump draw an illegal profit of at least Rs 14 lakh a month. The chip would reduce a fuel dispensing unit’s output by 510%, or perhaps more, depending on how much pump operators were intent on cheating customers. Typically, if someone were to order a litre of petrol, he or she would end up with 940 ml or less”.

TIMES VIEW: Electronic fuel dispensing machines are regarded as more accurate than those that are analogue. The fact that unscrupulous dealers using electronic bugs could manipulate the pulse rate of dispensers, and thereby the flow of fuel, exposes serious flaws in automation at petrol pumps. This is yet another wake-up call for oil companies, which need to invest in better technologies to safeguard their supply chain, reputation and consumers against fraud.



Fire breaks out in cloth shop in Delhi’s Moti Bazar

NEW DELHI: A major fire broke out in a cloth shop in Moti Bazar of Chandni Chowk this evening. A call was received at 9.30 pm about the fire and 29 fire tenders were rushed to the spot, a senior Delhi Fire Services officer said. He said that the fire spread to other shops and the firemen are still at work. No injuries or casualties have been reported till now. The cause of fire is suspected to be a short-circuit.



Around 68 women join Karnataka Home Guards



BENGALURU: Hailing from a middle-class family, her parents got her married soon after she completed class 10. And with M Gouri’s dreams of becoming a working woman were quashed. This year, however, Gouri chose to step out of her home and join the Karnataka Home Guards. She was among 68 women candidates who were inducted into the service on Monday. “I was working as a tailor and confined to the four walls of my house. My husband and in-laws would always look down on me. Recently, I read about recruitment of Home Guards in a newspaper and applied for the same. I did not expect to get through, but I did,” she said. Around 140 candidates joined the 2017 batch of Karnataka Home Guards, Bengaluru North, on Monday. Of these 68 are women and 72 are men.

“It’s a voluntary decision that every woman takes to come here and serve people. Despite fewer facilities for women here, they still chose to come and work. There are women from all walks of life – widows, mothers and the elderly,” said B Amaranath, district commandant, Home Guards, Bengaluru north. “It’s a great chance for women who never went to college but can still wear the uniform and serve people,” said Uma Maheshwari, 36, who stepped into this new role on Monday. Said Lakshmidevamma, 30, also from the new batch: “I have two children who are really proud of the work I’ll do. My daughter who is studying in class 7 also wants to be a home guard someday”.



At 42 degree temperature, Hyderabad traffic police to use ‘cool jackets’

Traffic cops wear special jackets to keep them cool in the city on Monday


HYDERABAD: With temperature rallying at 42 degree Celsius, Hyderabad traffic police on Monday distributed ‘cool jackets’ to its personnel who are exposed to the heat wave, to help them feel comfortable. Hyderabad police said that this jacket keep the body temperature 6-12 degrees Celsius lowers than the ambient temperature for 3-5 hours, depending on the humidity in the environment. “The product is very simple to use dip, squeeze, wear. The uniqueness of the product keeps the wearer dry even after dipping in water,” Joint Commissioner of police (Traffic) A Ravinder said. The product has a wide range of health benefits such as maintaining normal body temperature in extreme heat conditions while neutralizing the effects of outside core temperature. It also helps to check heart rate elevation, thermal and cardiovascular strain, decreases dehydration, enhances tolerance levels, and decreases rate of exertion.

As of now police bought 200 jackets, which were sponsored by Asian Institute of Nefrology. “If we feel that the 200 jackets are found to be useful, we will purchase more jackets for the remaining force in traffic wing,” police said. The interesting aspect in this jacket is that it is useful even in winter season by keeping the body warm. In winter the product can be used without dipping in water. The police bought three different sizes- Medium, Large, and Extra-large. During the night time, the traffic police performing the duties by standing on the road, will be wear a reflective vest on top of the cooling jackets, so that motorists can notice the standing of a policeman. Asian Institute of Nephrology has taken the initiative as a part of its Corporate Social Responsibility program to cope up with the intense summer heat. “The products are well-researched and tested for safety and performance, ensuring user’s experience is relaxed and performance oriented,” police said in a press note.



International News



19 killed in terror attack at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester



MANCHESTER: Nineteen people have been killed in a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert+ by US star Ariana Grande in the northwest English city of Manchester, police said on Tuesday. A fleet of ambulances was seen rushing to the venue and bomb disposal teams were dispatched soon after, as city residents opened up their doors to stranded concert-goers after train services were shut down. “So far 19 people have been confirmed dead+ , with around 50 others injured. This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise,” police said in a statement. Police carried out a controlled explosion in a small park near the venue a few hours after the blast but said the item turned out to be only abandoned clothes. There was mass panic after the explosion at the end of the concert, which was part of Grande’s The Dangerous Woman Tour. The singer was not injured, according to a representative. Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35pm but there were few further details.

“A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena,” concertgoer Majid Khan, 22, told Britain’s Press Association. “It was one bang and essentially everyone from the other side of the arena where the bang was heard from suddenly came running towards us as they were trying to exit”. Added Oliver Jones, 17: “The bang echoed around the foyer of the arena and people started to run”. Video from inside the arena showed concertgoers screaming as they made their way out amid a sea of pink balloons. Manchester Arena, the largest indoor arena in Europe, opened in 1995 and is a popular concert and sporting venue.

Ariana Grande ‘broken’ after concert attack: US pop star Ariana Grande late Monday said she felt at a loss for words after a suspected terror attack at her concert in the British city of Manchester. “Broken,” she wrote in her first reaction on Twitter. “From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry. I don’t have words,” she wrote. Grande, a 23-year-old former child star, is not known for her political views and draws an audience of teenagers and pre-teenagers. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but US officials drew parallels to the coordinated attacks in November 2015 by Islamist militants on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris, which claimed about 130 lives. Two US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said that initial signs pointed to a suicide bomber as being responsible for the blast. “The choice of venue, the timing and the mode of attack all suggest this was terrorism,” said a US counter terrorism official who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

Britain’s terrorist threat level has been set at “severe” in recent years indicating an attack is highly likely. British counter-terrorism police have said they are making on average an arrest every day in connection with suspected terrorism. In March, a British-born convert to Islam ploughed a car into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing four people before stabbing to death a police officer who was on the grounds of parliament. He was shot dead at the scene. In 2015, Pakistani student Abid Naseer was convicted in a US court of conspiring with al Qaeda to blow up the Arndale shopping center in the center of Manchester in April 2009. British Prime Minister Theresa May said the government is working to establish “the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack”. She said her thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected. The government is expected to call an emergency Cabinet meeting. Police advised the public to avoid the area around the Manchester Arena. Train services to and from Manchester Victoria Station — located under the Arena — had been cancelled. “Disruption is expected to continue until the end of the day,” National Rail said in a statement. British Transport Police said in a statement: “Officers are at Manchester Arena following reports of an explosion within the foyer area of the stadium at 10.30pm this evening.

The incident caused transport chaos, with traffic jams outside the venue. “Emergency services are dealing with an incident near Manchester Victoria, resulting in all lines being closed,” operator Northern Railway wrote on its website. Joseph Carozza, a representative from Grande’s US record label, said the singer is OK and they are investigating what happened. The Dangerous Woman Tour is the third concert tour by Grande and supports her third studio album, “Dangerous Woman”. Grande’s role as Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon’s high school sitcom “Victorious” propelled her to teen idol status, starting in 2010. The 23-year-old Grande, with her signature high ponytail, went on to also star in spinoffs that included “iCarly,” as she worked to develop her recording career. The tour began in Phoenix in February. After Manchester, Grande was to perform at venues in Europe, including Belgium, Poland, Germany, Switzerland and France, with concerts in Latin America and Asia to follow.



Bomb on coup anniversary wounds 21 at Thai Army hospital



BANGKOK: A bomb struck a Bangkok military hospital on Monday and wounded 21 people, one seriously, three years to the day after the Thai Army seized power in the politically unstable kingdom. The small device, which police said was potentially deadly, went off near the VIP section of King Mongkut hospital as patients and their families waited for prescriptions, shattering glass and sending smoke into the corridors. Hospital director Saroj Keokajee said the “low intensity bomb” injured 21 people, among them retired military officers. “Eight people were admitted to hospital to observe their condition… among them is one woman who needed surgery because of shrapnel buried in her jaw,” he said. Thailand has remained starkly divided since the May 22, 2014 coup, but dissent has broadly been smothered by a military with sweeping security powers. While it was not immediately clear who was behind the blast, Thailand has a long history of bomb attacks on symbolic dates, carried out by militant political factions or separatists linked to an insurgency in the Muslim-majority south. Investigators said the bomb may be linked to two other similarly small devices that went off in recent weeks, one outside Bangkok’s National Theatre a week ago and another left in a Bangkok bin in early April.

Both were too low yield to cause significant injury. But police said Monday’s device, while similar in size, was more serious because it was packed with nails. “The people who did this are brutal,” national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda, told reporters. “If they (the nails) had directly impacted, they could cause death”. The clinic in central Bangkok is often used by serving and retired members of the armed forces but also treats civilians. Saroj said no senior military officers were near the blast. Regardless of the motive, the blast will raise the political temperature in Thailand where violence had declined under the military’s stranglehold. Despite a veneer of stability Thais remain divided and uncertain over the future three years after the ousting of the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra. Protest and political gatherings are banned while dissidents have been rounded up on charges of sedition or breaching junta orders, or under draconian royal defamation legislation. Militant elements among pro-democracy groups have either been arrested or gone to ground. The one region where daily violence and large bomb blasts persist is the country’s “Deep South”, where Malay Muslim militants have fought a long insurgency.

But they rarely strike outside their region, an exception being in August 2016 when a series of coordinated blasts hit a string of tourist towns. The country’s notoriously fractious domestic politics have incubated the worst violence. Over the past 10 years Thais have witnessed repeated rounds of deadly protests, a string of short-lived governments and two military coups that deposed elected leaders. The junta says its 2014 coup — the 12th time generals have successfully seized power was needed to bring stability and root out corruption. But critics say the military is deeply hostile to ousted premiers Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck, whose parties have won every poll since 2001. Their billionaire clan is popular among Thailand’s rural and urban poor and they have urged a return to elections. But the Shinawatras are hated by Bangkok’s military-backed elite, who accuse the family of corruption and nepotism. In a statement on Facebook to mark the coup Yingluck decried a lack of “concrete reform” and warned that three years of military rule risked becoming a “waste of time”.

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