News Flash – 3 August 2018

National News



Four pull stunts, steal phone, post video & land in lock-up

Screenshots from the video that went viral on social media shows Javed (in black & grey; top left) snatching the cellphone at GTB station and the gang of four pulling dangerous stunts like moving from one compartment to another on the outside while the Harbour Line train is in motion.



Mumbai: Four youngsters who performed dangerous stunts on a running Harbour Line local and stole a commuter’s cellphone were arrested by the GRP late on Wednesday. The group had shot a video of their stunts, including the snatching of the phone worth Rs 10,000, and circulated it on social media. All four are school dropouts and have been performing stunts on trains frequently, said officials. “After the video went viral, we formed teams and went through CCTV footage of various stations on the Harbour line. Armed with grabs from the video clip, we combed areas between GTB Nagar and Navi Mumbai, before zeroing in on the boys,” said a police official. The accused are Mohammad Ali Shaikh alias Mamma, 19, from Kurla, Mohammad Zaid Shaikh alias Javed, 19, from Mumbra, Rohit Chaurasia, 20, from Kurla and Shebaaz Khan, 18, from Kurla. Chaurasia assists his father in their family business. One of the youths works with a caterer while another is employed in a perfume-manufacturing unit. “The boys have been booked in an assault case in the past,” said DCP Samadhan Pawar. Shot on July 30, the video shows the youths creating a din and indulging in hooliganism. As the train is pulling out of the GTB Nagar station around 1.30pm, Javed snatches the cellphone from an unsuspecting commuter standing on the platform. It shows the youths moving from one compartment to another even as the train is in motion. The phone was recovered from Javed.



2 armed bikers loot Rs.70L from petrol pump owner



New Delhi: Two men on a motorcycle robbed a petrol pump owner of Rs 70 lakh on the Naraina flyover when he was on his way home on Thursday after noon. Businessman Kashish Bansal said at 2.40pm, two men on a black motorcycle hit his car from behind while he was going along with his driver towards Rohini. When he rolled down the window to talk to the bikers, one of them pointed a pistol at him and asked him to hand over his cash bag. When he refused, the men pushed him and asked the driver to unlock the boot in which the cash was kept. They then took the bag and sped off. DCP (west) Vijay Kumar said the businessman made a PCR call after which a team from Naraina police station went to the spot and recorded his statement. Bansal told police that the bike used by the robbers didn’t have a number plate and may have been stolen. During investigation, it was found that the miscreants were aware of the cash being kept in the boot of the vehicle and may have been following Bansal since he left the petrol pump. Police officers said Bansal claimed that he also used to lend money as well as exchange higher denominations for lower ones. Due to this, he had to carry a large sum with him every time he stepped out. A case of robbery has been registered and CCTV footage from the area is being scanned to identify the robbers. Bansal’s employees are also being questioned. His call records are also being analysed to find out whether he had received a suspicious call from someone before the incident.



Gang of robbers busted after targeting ex-Army man’s house



New Delhi: Delhi Police busted a gang of armed robbers and arrested 10 people, including two women, from west Delhi’s Kirti Nagar on Tuesday. Their last target was an elderly woman — wife of an ex-Army officer, J S Chandok. The accused barged into the house and made away with valuables worth more than Rs 12 lakh, after confining, thrashing and gagging Promila Chandok. Police identified them from the CCTV footage of the house. The gang was led by an ex-businessman, who took to crime as he thought this could get him easy money without any hard work. He roped in nine others, all of whom were from Nepal, to form the gang. Police said that on July 25, they received a PCR call at 4pm regarding a robbery in Mansarover Garden. After the robbers left, Promila somehow managed to free herself and called her husband, who informed the cops. He said that his wife was attacked and the house ransacked in his absence. DCP (west) Vijay Kumar said that a team led by SHO, Kirti Nagar, Anil Sharma, was formed to investigate the case. In his statement to police, Chandok said, “Promila told me over phone that four men, including one who used to work as their domestic help, barged into their house and when she resisted, they pushed her aside.


They gagged her with a doctor’s tape and continuously threatened to kill her if she resisted”. Chandok said that the domestic help, Manish, had worked for them for three years before taking up another job a year ago. They took keys of the cupboard from Promila and stole gold jewellery worth over Rs 12 lakh, around Rs 5 lakh cash and other valuables including a Rolex watch, Chandok said. After the gang fled, Promila took quite some time to free herself, he said. Police said that a case under Sections 392 (punishment for robbery), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC has been registered at the Kirti Nagar police station. The men were seen fleeing from the house in the CCTV footage. They were all identified and raids were conducted at various places during which the mastermind, Manish, was arrested. Since all the accused were Nepalese, the police station in-charges of the border areas were alerted about the accused. Later, the other accused were tracked down and nabbed. All the stolen items were seized by police.



Soon, drone cams to monitor traffic and map properties


Bengaluru: Drone cameras will soon be used by police to record traffic density and violations. Karnataka Science and Technology Promotion Society (KSTePS), a subsidiary body of the department of science and technology, will implement the project. Akash Sinha, founder of Delhi-based firm Omnipresent Robot Tech, which manufacturers drones, said they will identify busy traffic intersections and stretches along with traffic police. “We plan to begin aerial mapping of traffic in two weeks. This exercise will give us information about traffic density and the number of vehicles passing through a road. It will help police optimize signal timings,” he added. He said they will deploy about 10 drones, which could cover a 10km radius and fly up to a height of 200 feet. “Systematic mapping of traffic will also help the authorities identify bottlenecks and come up with plans to address the problem,” Sinha added. The cameras will detect violations like over speeding and will be used for automatic number plate recognition. They could also be used to capture images of traffic offenders, protests, road accidents or fire mishaps.


Sinha said they will commence mapping of properties to plug BBMP’s property tax revenue leakage. “We have already mapped properties in Amaravathi, Andhra Pradesh.” The 3D imaging can provide a better understanding of the city’s infrastructure. The firm needs approval from various government agencies for the flight path before beginning to map an area. In places near the airport and restricted defence sites, it requires the nod of the authorities concerned. Additional commissioner of police R Hithendra said they don’t have the funds to finance the project. “We’ll work with the government to implement it,” he said. TIMES VIEW: Deploying drones to streamline traffic, monitor crops and manage crowds is a good move. While they have been extensively used in war, greatly reducing loss of human lives in combat, their use in civilian operations has been slow to take off. The technology is also being used to survey properties in Bengaluru and to confirm that building owners are paying the right tax amount. Nevertheless, there are some issues in using them extensively in urban settings, with invasion of privacy topping the list. Their use needs to be strictly regulated lest we have them buzzing constantly overhead and causing chaos.



Plan to curb air pollution in 102 cities likely this month



New Delhi: The Centre will come out with a comprehensive plan around August 15, to reduce air pollution in 102 cities across the country in a time-bound manner. The plan, the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), will have three timelines to gradually reduce pollution and bring it down by 70-80% from current levels in the next 10 years. Under the timelines, air pollution in these cities— Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Allahabad, Varanasi, Kanpur, Jaipur, Patna and Hyderabad among others – will be reduced by 35% in the next three years, 50% in the next five years and 70-80% (as much reduction as possible) in the next 10 years. “Earlier, we had two timelines (3 years and 5 years). But now, we’ll put the third one (10 years) in the upcoming NCAP. It (the targets) is our expectations. We’ll send it to states, asking them to frame their own city-specific plan to fulfil those expectations,” said Union environment secretary C K Mishra. He told TOI that the Centre would assist states in building capacities to reduce pollution level in tune with the prescribed timelines. Asked about delay in bringing out the final NCAP, Mishra said, “We’ll release it around August 15. It may be delayed for a few more days, but we are planning to do it around that time. There will be financial implication of such plan and therefore we have been working out those details”. The ministry is learnt to have also been waiting for the World Bank to finalise its assistance. Besides, it has held several round of discussions with the finance ministry on funding part of the NCAP. The World Bank has been working with many developing countries and development partners to improve their air and water quality.


The NCAP plans to tackle pollution from various sources (power plants, transport, industry, residential and agriculture sectors), increase number of manual air quality monitoring stations from 703 to 1,000 stations across the country, expand the network of the Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) and set up Air Information Centre for data analysis, interpretation and dissemination through GIS platforms. “The NCAP will be a long term time bound national level strategy to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner. Its objective is to have a plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution,” said an official. The NCAP will have specific component on formulation of city-specific action plans for 102 non-attainment cities. A non-attainment city is considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. On the basis of analysis of data for five years generated under the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme during 2011-15, the ministry had identified 94 cities as non-attainment cities. “Now, eight more cities have been identified as polluted cities as per the WHO database. It is, therefore, proposed to take up source-apportionment studies in these 102 cities under the upcoming NCAP, besides taking up various pollution abatement measures”, said the official.



Devi watched dance of death at ground zero


Hyderabad: Nine-year-old Devi Sree may have managed to cheat death, escaping the tragedy with a severe leg injury, but the images of her best friend Mani Keertana dying in front of her eyes, as the beams collapsed on her at the New Century School, Kukatpally, on Thursday, will haunt her forever. “Right after our karate class, seven of us were playing near the stage. Our teacher was also with us, but she got down from the stage for some work while we were chatting. Suddenly, I heard a cracking sound,” said Devi, the class IV student of the school and a resident of Sheshadri Nagar of Kukatpally. Seeing the beams collapse, she ran out of the area. “Fortunately, I escaped being hit by a piece of debris that fell on my left but as I was running for my life, something fell on my right leg,” she said. “I screamed but couldn’t see a thing as there was dust all around. I felt a jolt of pain and realised my leg was bleeding. Suddenly, I realised that I couldn’t find my best friend, Mani anywhere. I felt helpless.” she said, while she was being treated at Anupama hospital at Vivekananda Nagar in Kukatpally. Devi was rescued by two senior students and teachers and carried to an ambulance waiting nearby. “Mani was lying right next to me, when we were being shifted to the hospital. Her eyes were closed and she was pale. She was also bleeding a lot. Fear gripped me when I saw her in that condition,” recalled Devi, who also tried to wake up Mani thinking that her best friend was unconscious, and wept was inconsolably when she was told her best pal was no more.



Jazeera flight catches fire while landing at Hyderabad airport, 145 safe


Hyderabad: All 145 passengers onboard Hyderabad-bound Jazeera Airways flight J9 608 from Kuwait had a narrow escape after the tailpipe of the aircraft caught fire while landing at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), in Hyderabad, in the early hours of Thursday. Luckily no casualties were reported in the incident that occurred around 1:30am on Thursday, minutes after the aircraft landed on the RGIA taxiway. According to sources, a flare was noticed on the tailpipe located on the right side of the aircraft — an Airbus A320ceo single-aisle. The aircraft was immediately stopped on the taxiway and fire tenders rushed to the spot, by which time the pilot had already switched off fuel and ignition as per standard operating procedure (SOP). “Jazeera Airways flight J9 608 from Kuwait to Hyderabad reported a brief tailpipe flare in the right engine after landing at RGIA at 1.30am on Thursday morning. The flare was quickly extinguished. All passengers were unharmed and disembarked the aircraft normally,” read the statement issued by the Kuwait head quartered airline. Commenting on the incident, a Jazeera Airways (India) spokesperson said, “What took place was what the airline industry commonly refers to as a tailpipe flare. Our pilot immediately followed SOP by switching off the fuel and ignition”. According to sources, the fire was gradually brought under control, after which the aircraft was shifted to Bay No 59. “The fire was dying by the time tenders rushed to the spot. After the fire died down completely, passengers disembarked normally, using step ladders. It was a minor incident that occurred due to a technical snag and did not cause any delays to other flight operations. The runway was fully operational,” said an RGIA official.



Database pop-up: Facial recognition system launched to boost Security


Hyderabad: Telangana police on Thursday launched facial recognition system (FRS), a first of its kind crime detection tool in the country. The FRS software has been linked to TSCOP mobile phone app, allowing field-level police personnel to check a suspect’s face from anywhere with the criminal database. Telangana director-general of police (DGP) M Mahendar Reddy announced the integration of FRS tech tool with TSCOP app at a press conference held at the state police headquarters, Lakdikapul, on Thursday. “For the first time in the country, all field-level police officers working in Telangana can access FRS tool through TSCOP app on their mobile phones. We have integrated FRS tool with TSCOP, allowing the investigating officers to run a suspect’s photos taken during the investigation or photos of unknown bodies at crime scenes or snapshots of the missing children using FRS tool. The images will get compared with the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) database, other police databases and results will appear in descending order, based on the match percentage,” the DGP added. Telangana police have already been using the mobile fingerprint scanners to check criminal antecedents of suspects and FRS tool would work as a face scanner in a similar way. “We want to send a message to criminals that if they commit a crime in Telangana, they will be caught and also get punishment due to thorough investigation done here. Ultimately, our objective is to improve standards of safety and security to achieve a crime free society,” the DGP said.



Gang of five worked for four months to siphon off lakhs


Kolkata: A gang of five members worked for four months to carry out the ATM fraud, the probe by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) has revealed. They had installed the skimmers at the Canara Bank ATM sometime between the first week of April and the end of July, believe cops, after scanning various CCTV footage and collecting technical evidence. They are working in tandem with Delhi Police, as all 78 fraud transactions were carried out in the national Capital. On Thursday, the total number of complaints climbed up to 78 and one more ATM — of Kotak Mahindra’s Elgin Road branch — joining the list of compromised teller machine. Importantly, unlike the other two ATMs, the Kotak ATM had a security guard on duty all along. Canara Bank’s Gariahat branch has now reported 42 cases. Among those who have lost their money are 10 employees of the bank and an AGM of a public sector bank. The most “likely time”, according to cops, when the skimmers were set up was between April 4 and April 21. Similarly, the ‘operation’ at the Kotak Mahindra ATM was carried out on May 2, said a top Lalbazar source, adding that the gang members may have visited the ATM at least four times in April.


The suspects were wearing caps — one of them even had his sunglass on — when they came to fit the skimmer. They spent around two to three minutes on an average inside the ATM, fixing a chip-based camera through a pinhole and a skimmer machine. The cops are also not ruling out the involvement of foreign nationals in the fraud. What has grown along with the number of affected ATMs and the number of complainants is the geographical spread of victims. They now come from several areas, with Jadavpur and Alipore joining the previous list of Gariahat, Sarobar, Park Street, Kasba, Tiljala and Beniapukur. Without ruling out the possibility of a further rise of complaints, the cops have started summoning a few who handle ATMs to record their statement. “The withdrawals started on July 24 and continued till July 30. Complaints started pouring in from July 26. The fact that the withdrawals continued even as complaints were registered shows the gang was well-placed with all information,” said an official. The cops are also looking at possibilities to try and clamp down on sale of skimmers through internet. “We will be taking up this issue with online ecommerce giants,” said an officer at Lalbazar. Officers in Delhi Police, with whom the SIT officers are coordinating, said they were preparing a list of Delhi-based criminals who were involved in similar fraudulent activities in the past but are out on bail at present.



Andaman’s ship with 349 springs a leak


Kolkata: A ship with 256 passengers and 93 crew members on board developed a leak in its hull close to Malacca Island, in the Andaman’s & Nicobar archipelago, late on Wednesday. The MV Swaraj Dweep, which is 156.97m long, was on an inter-island service between Port Blair and Nan cowrie when the leak occurred. Till Thursday evening, when bad weather hampered operations, the Coast Guard had moved 149 passengers from the ship to a safe shelter on Car Nicobar. Operations will start again from 5.30am on Friday. “We asked the ship to move to the anchorage of Car Nicobar. It is now anchored nearly 5 nautical miles off the island and 9.5 nautical miles from its jetty. We have succeeded in pumping out water from its hold and the ship is now stable. Our diving teams are also standing by to handle any situation. For now, the passengers and crew on the ship are safe,” a senior Coast Guard official said from Port Blair. The MV Swaraj Dweep is a 19-year-old ship owned and operated by the A&N administration. Apart from interisland transfers, the ship also carries passengers from Chennai to Port Blair. On Wednesday, the ship sailed from Port Blair for an overnight trip to Nan cowrie, nearly 415 km away.


“Late on Wednesday, the ship sent a message regarding ingress of water in hold 2. Containers inside the hold had apparently started floating and were hammering against the walls of the ship. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre relayed the message to us. Fortunately, we had a ship at the Kamorta Island and it sailed towards the Swaraj Dweep’s location around 2.30am. The affected ship was also asked to move towards the Car Nicobar anchorage,” the official said. After the Coast Guard ship arrived, a nine-member team with submersible pumps entered hold 2. By then, there was nearly 5m of water there. The water was pumped out and the ship stabilized. By then, 149 passengers had been taken off the passenger ship. By late afternoon on Thursday, they were in safe hands at Car Nicobar. “We had to suspend operations due to adverse weather. We have ensured that there are sufficient supplies on board the MV Swaraj Dweep for passengers. They will be taken off the ship on Friday,” the Coast Guard official said.



Thieves panic, escape as ATM alarm goes off



Chennai: Thieves trying to break open an ATM kiosk on Cemetery Road in Washermenpet on Wednesday night fled after triggering the facility’s burglar alarm. But the gang made away with six inverter batteries from the kiosk. The unmanned ATM centre had CCTV cameras installed and footage was live streamed and monitored from Mumbai. “After entering the kiosk, the gang first noticed the inverter batteries near the ATM and took them,” a police officer said. “The thieves then tried to break open the machine to get their hands on the money. But they seem to have accidentally set off burglar alarm. They fled in panic”. Officials monitoring the ATM from Mumbai alerted the city police control room, saying at least three men were trying to break open the ATM. The Washermenpet police are checking surveillance footage for leads.



International News



How an Oz city kept dengue at bay for 4 Years



London: In a first, Australian researchers have successfully protected an entire city from dengue outbreaks by deploying captive-bred mosquitoes that are unable to spread the deadly virus. Mosquitoes bred to carry naturally-occurring Wolbachia bacteria, which prevents the transmission of viruses, were let loose over 66 square kilometres of Townsville, Queensland in places where they could naturally breed. In four years since the mosquitoes were introduced in the town of 1,87,000 people, no new cases of dengue have been reported in the area. The community in the town embraced the project, with even school children releasing the special mosquitoes that passed on their bacteria to the local population of mosquitoes. “We’re wanting to have a really major impact on disease. For dengue and Zika nothing’s working at the moment for control. There’s evidence of a growing disease burden and there was the big Zika pandemic that stripped through the Americas recently and the rest of the world,” said Scott O’Neill, director of the World Mosquito Program at Monash University in Australia.


“I think we’ve got something here that’s going to have a significant impact and I think this study is the first indication that this method is looking very promising,” O’Neill said. Researchers are now conducting a randomized controlled trial Indonesia. In Brazil mosquitoes have been introduced in Rio de Janeiro, with the hopes of countering Zika virus outbreaks. The land area covered in Rio is twice that of Townsville and the population six times as great, with more than 1.5 million people. “Rio is one of the hardest places to work in. If we can be successful in Rio we can probably be successful anywhere in the world,” O’Neill said. The programme is currently going on in 11 countries across the world. Researchers hope to test it in other countries where a large number of dengue cases have been recorded. In the long run, if Wolbachia does prove safe and effective, scientists may attempt its use against malaria.



Indian among 3 foreigners abducted and killed in Afghanistan



Afghanistan: The Indian government on Thursday condemned the killing of an Indian national in Kabul, who had been kidnapped along with his colleagues, saying they would bring back his remains for the family. In a statement, MEA spokesperson said, “It is a matter of deep anguish that an Indian national, working for an international company, was kidnapped along with two of his colleagues from Malaysia and Macedonia in Kabul today. The local authorities later informed that the three kidnapped, including the Indian national have been killed by the kidnappers”. The person, whose identity has not yet been divulged, and his two colleagues working as chefs for the French food services and facilities management giant Sodexo, were shot in the head, according to local TV channel, TOLO news. The Indian national was 39, the Macedonian was 37 and the Malaysian national was 64. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the killings, but the Taliban remains the primary suspect. The incident occurred months after six Indian engineers of an RPG group company working in Afghanistan were kidnapped by Taliban, suspecting them to be government officials.


The victims were abducted early Thursday morning by four gunmen from the industrial park area of 9th police district in Kabul city while they were on way to work in their official car. Their bodies were later found in Mussahi, a volatile remote and mountainous area of the Afghan capital, the report said. According to Afghan media reports, the armed men intercepted their vehicle at around 8.30am (local time) and abducted them in a Toyota Corolla sedan. The driver of the foreign nationals later reached the office and informed the staff about the abduction, the report said. Police launched a search operation and cordoned off the area. After around two hours, police spotted the vehicle and went to investigate. The gunmen were still at the scene but immediately fled the area in another car when they saw the police approaching. The bodies of the victims were found in the car.

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