News Flash – 26 April 2017

National News



Bomb scare at Metro station over cash bag



New Delhi: An unattended baggage containing Rs 55,600 in cash and silver bars created panic at the Aerocity Metro station on Monday afternoon. Bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS) arrived at the spot and after inspection, declared the baggage to be safe. The bag was later returned to its rightful owner by CISF personnel after verifying him through CCTV surveillance. The incident took place around 3.30pm at the Aerocity Metro station of the Airport Express line when an unattended bag was found near one of the (Automated Fare Collections). “After ensuring that nothing dangerous was present inside, the bag was opened and it was deposited safely with the station controller till the owner, a passenger named Moolchand came to collect it,” said a senior CISF official.


Despite laptop ban, Dubai still popular among Indians flyers



MUMBAI: The impact of travel bans and electronic device restrictions has started showing on overall passenger traffic volumes at the Dubai airport as traffic to North America fell 4.3% during March compared to the same period last year. In the last week of March, the US department of homeland security banned “all personal electronic devices larger than a cellphone or smartphone” from the carry-on bags of passengers who board direct flights to the US from the airports in Amman (Jordan), Cairo (Egypt), Istanbul (Turkey), Jeddah and Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait, Doha (Qatar), Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The directive had hit passengers from India who fly to the West as one out of every two passengers who fly from India to the US transit through airports in the Middle East. Following the directive, they had check in all electronic devices before they could board the direct flight to the US from the transit airport.
But Dubai continues to be popular with Indian travelers. “India remained the top destination country during the first three months of the year with a total of 3,031,866 passengers, followed by the UK (1,618,334), Saudi Arabia (1,572,963) and Pakistan (1,166,642),” said Dubai International. London topped the list of destination cities during the period under review with 974,950 passengers, followed by Doha (797,729 passengers), Bangkok (633,496) and Mumbai (618,638). “However, traffic to and from North America is up 2.5% this year so far. Passenger traffic numbers climbed 7.4% during the first quarter of 2017 to 22,496,596 compared to 20,948,690 recorded during the same period last year,” according to traffic results released on Tuesday by Dubai Airports.


Hotels, restaurants told to display ‘no service charge’ boards



Bengaluru: With the Centre having termed collection of service charge by hotels and restaurants an ‘unfair trade practice’, the state government on Tuesday directed the hotel and restaurant sector to fall in line. Establishments have been told to display boards reading: ‘No service charge will be collected here’. Food and civil supplies minister U T Khader said on Tuesday: “We will shortly convene a meeting of hotel industry representatives and apprise them about the Centre’s guidelines. The state government will come out with an order prohibiting hotels and restaurants from collecting service charge from customers.” The minister added that payment of service charge is left to the discretion of the customer. Four days ago, Union consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan had disapproved hotels’ practice of collecting 5%-20% service charge from customers. He had said: “Our department’s view is that imposing service charge is an unfair trade practice and consumers need not pay. There is no definition of service charge in the law.” The Centre issued a set of guidelines on the issue to the state government.

Endorsing Khader’s view, food and civil supplies secretary Harsh Gupta said: “Many hotels in Bengaluru and other cities have been taking customers for a ride by including service charge in the bill. Since there is no mention of service charge in the menu card and it is only mentioned in the final bill payable by the customer, it amounts to violation of fair trade practices”. However, Gupta said the state government does not have the power to take action against hotels and restaurants that continue to collect service charge. “Customers can approach consumer courts and get their grievances redressed,” he added.


BOX: What ground reality is
* A person visiting a hotel or restaurant to buy food/beverage falls under the definition of a consumer as mandated by the Consumer Protection Act – 1986
*Some hotels and restaurants have been charging tips and gratuity from customers, without the latter’s consent, in the name of service charge
*Customers have been paying service charge following a false impression that it is part of taxes imposed by the government
*Some hotels and restaurants restrain customers from entering premises if they are not ready to pay service charge
*The number of customer complaints against mandatory levying of service charge has been on the rise What Centre’s guidelines say
*Customers can voluntarily pay service charge; they can’t be forced to do so
*Pricing of product is expected to cover both the goods and service components. Service should be treated as inherent component of the product ordered by customer
*Charges not mentioned in menu card amount to unfair trade practice
*Tip or gratuity paid to the hotel staff by a customer is towards hospitality received by the latter. The hotel management has nothing to do with the transaction
*It is only after completing the meal that the customer is in a position to assess the quality of service and decides on the quantum of tip to be paid. Hotels should not force customers to pay service charge for a service they may not have enjoyed
*The service charge column in the bill should be left blank and must clearly display it is voluntary.


‘Transport department’s failures triggering road tragedies’



HYDERABAD: A lorry driven by a drunk and unqualified driver mowed down protesters and crushed 15 people to death in Chittoor district‘s Yerpedu three days ago. This accident brought to the fore, the transport department‘s resolve in failing to implement the rule book for ensuring ‘proper running’ of private transport vehicles in the state. Legal sources recall how the transport department has been consistently letting the people of AP down in implementing the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, labour laws and motor workers welfare rules etc. The recent accident calls for urgent action because, as observer say, the officials of transport department, one of the cash rich departments, have forgotten their duties and are only interested in cash generation both for the state and for themselves. The mad rush for a posting at check posts is clear proof of this. Each time a Yerpedu happens, there are petitions in the Hyderabad High Court, directions from the court to control and regulate the private vehicles in tune with the existing laws but it has become common for the transport department to either forget or ignore the duty of implementing these laws.

Had they implemented the laws like ensuring two drivers in each private bus, or the fixed six hour duty for the private drivers or the regular certification on the conditions of these vehicles, the Yerpedu incident would not have taken place at all, said the lawyers who argued the earlier cases. Take for instance, the Diwakar Travels Bus that plunged into Krishna river at Moolapadu near Vijayawada on February 28, 2017 that killed 11 people or even the Dhanunjay Travels bus that killed five students, four of them medicos from Osmania medical college on March 15, 2016, or the van that plunged into Godavari river at Dhowleswaram barrage in June 2015 that took away as many as 22 lives from a single family, there were directions from the court to regulate the private busses, vans etc., in tune with the laws. A separate mechanism should have been brought into existence by now if any of the transport authorities, the higher officials, paid proper heed to the call of the laws and courts, legal observers say.

When a PIL was filed challenging the inaction of the authorities after the Diwakar Travels Bus accident at Vijayawada, the HC bench headed by none other than Chief Justice himself ordered the two states to come out with their clear action plans explaining the steps they are taking to implement the laws in this regard. Whether the state and transport wing were ensuring the two driver norm for long distance private vehicles? Could they succeed in ensuring six hour work rule for private drivers? These were the questions the court posed and sought replies for.


Bacteria causing diarrhoea deaths in children resists key antibiotic



HYDERABAD: Researchers have found that Shigella bacteria that causes severe diarrhoea and even deaths in children has developed resistance to the powerful drug, ciprofloxacin. New strains of Shigella have emerged and they are not responding to ciprofloxacin. City doctors say indiscriminate use of antibiotics has led to the bacteria developing resistance to the powerful antibiotic. Dr. Rajib Paul, critical care specialist, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, said the incidence of drug-resistant bacteria is increasing globally and the latest research study on Shigella is a cause for concern. “Strains of Shigella developing resistance to ciprofloxacin is a big blow to the healthcare system. As the burden of drug resistant shigellosis increases, physicians will be left with no choice other than administering injectable drugs for such an easily treatable disease,” he said, warning that this will increase healthcare costs.

The caution by city health experts comes in the wake of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of USA issuing a warning of emerging strains of Shigella bacteria with reduced susceptibility to ciprofloxacin. Incidentally, ciprofloxacin is the main antibiotic drug used for treatment of shigellosis. Telangana and AP have a high incidence of shigellosis and many cases are referred to tertiary hospitals in Hyderabad as the condition of patients deteriorates. The latest development will affect the treatment protocol as ciprofloxacin is easily available and the bacterial resistance means either delay in the recovery of the patients or high mortality rate. Dr. Rajib said it may also lead to a delay in starting treatment, which can lead to further spread of the disease. “It may cause loss of man days as many patients will have to be admitted for treatment,” he said. Shigella, along with bacteria like rotavirus, E coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter, causes severe diarrhoea and dysentery in the country. They are transmitted mostly by contaminated water and food. Dr. Shaeq Mirza, a general physician, said the incidence of resistance to Ciprofloxacin is increasing in Telangana.


Man dupes 100 by posing as government officer, held



AHMEDABAD: He’s a glib talker and knows finer points of government workings. Armed with information and the ability to trick people into believing he was a government servant, Nandu Valand, 57, a resident of Kalupur, managed to dupe nearly 100 persons over the past two years. Most victims of the former home guard jawan are women, who sought his help for their work with government departments. A team of Ahmedabad rural police’s local crime branch (LCB) arrested Valand at Sanathal Crossroads on Monday. J M Chudasama, inspector of LCB, said Valand had introduced himself as inspector R K Chudasama, posted in Ahmedabad, while dealing with one Chandrakant Makwana, a resident of Bavla, in October 2016. Makwana’s daughter Meena had taken the examination for recruitment of constables. According to Makwana’s complaint, Valand went to his residence on March 7 and took gold ornaments worth Rs 1.91 lakh on pretext of borrowing them for a wedding. “He used a number of identities — ranging from bank officer to district panchayat officer and housing board employee,” said Chudasama.

“Most people have some issue where government departments can help. For example, he duped a woman in Maninagar in January by identifying himself as an inspector posted in Vadodara and promised to help the family in a court case,” Chudasama said. “He took a gold chain and pendant on pretext of getting it examined by a jeweler and fled,” he added. On Monday, Valand was caught on the basis of digital surveillance, from near Sanathal Crossroads, with two gold ingots worth Rs 1.32 lakh. Police later went to a jeweler whom Valand used to visit in Ahmedabad and found another ingot worth Rs 1.39 lakh. “Valand was a home guard jawan with Ahmedabad city unit. In 2015, he was arrested by Shahibaug police in connection with a cheating complaint,” said an investigator. “In his years of using public transport, he had developed a habit of striking up conversations to discover issues faced by co-passengers, especially related to government departments. He either used to borrow gold ornaments on some pretext or take money for the work,” said an investigator. Investigators added that as Valand was familiar with police methods and covered his tracks cleverly.


International News



14 killed in Taliban attack in Pakistan’s tribal belt

News Flash_1 26.04.17

PESHAWAR: Taliban militants on Tuesday targeted a mini bus with a remote-controlled bomb in Pakistan’s restive northwest tribal region, killing at least 14 people including four women and two children, a local official said, raising an earlier reported death toll of 10 killed. The improvised explosive device (IED) blast targeted the van in Kontara village in central Kurram Agency. Jamaatul Ahrar, a splinter group of the outlawed Tehrik- e-Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack. 14 people, including four women and two children, were killed in the blast, officials said. 13 people were injured in the explosion. The injured were shifted to a nearby hospital.

The military’s media wing, Inter Services Public Relations, said a special Mi-17 helicopter has been sent to Kurram Agency headquarters Parachinar to bring the injured to Peshawar for treatment. Security personnel rushed to the blast site and cordoned off the entire area. A search operation was also conducted. Last month, at least 28 people were killed and 100 others wounded when a suicide bomber detonated a car “rigged with explosives” outside a Shiite imambargah in a busy market in Parachinar, the main town of the Kurram tribal region. The grisly violence had sparked angry protests by residents in Parachinar, the administrative headquarters of the agency, which is prone to sectarian violence.


Man fatally shoots boss, kills himself in US



HOUSTON: An unidentified man shot dead his woman boss before killing himself, leading to chaos in a multi-storey building in the northern part of US city of Dallas, police said. The Dallas police responded to a report of an active shooter in an office building in the 8300 block of the LBJ Freeway at around 10.45am (local time) yesterday. When officers arrived on the scene, they suspected the shooter was in a meeting room. They breached the door by firing a shotgun, authorities said. Officers found a man and a woman dead in the room. It appears the man shot and killed the woman and then turned the gun on himself, police said. The woman was the supervisor of the gunman, they said. As the incident unfolded, television footage showed a heavy police response including a SWAT team at the office building along an interstate. A broken window could be seen on one of the upper floors of the building. “(Officers) went inside the office where the shooting was taking place, and they discovered that the possible shooter was inside a particular office in a meeting room,” Asst. Chief Randy Blankenbaker said.

“The officers were forced to utilize a shotgun to breach the front office door,” he said. Blankenbaker said the victim and suspect will not be identified until the next of kin are notified. Investigators said there were multiple witnesses in the building at the time of the shooting and were taken to police headquarters for questioning. The building was declared to be safe around 12.49pm (local time). Pictures of the crime scene show dozens of people outside the building being evacuated. Another photo shows a busted out window on the far edge of the property. One officer was injured due to broken glass during the search and was taken to the hospital, the police department’s Twitter account said.


27 people killed in bus-trailer truck collision in Kenya

News Flash_2 26.04.17

NAIROBI: Kenyan police say 27 people have been killed in a collision between a passenger bus and a trailer truck. Police say the accident took place along the major road linking two of Kenya‘s biggest cities, capital Nairobi and the port of Mombasa. Leornard Kimaiyo, the police chief in the Kambu area of Maukeni County, says the bus was heading to Mombasa and the trailer was going in the opposite direction when they collided on Tuesday. Road accidents kill around 3,000 people in Kenya every year. Deaths through road accidents have increased in recent years despite a crackdown on drunk driving, including tougher fines and breathalyzer tests at random police roadblocks.





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