News Flash – 30 August 2018

National News



Man gropes 25-yr-old woman at Dadar Station, whips out Knife


Mumbai: A 25-year-old woman was groped at Dadar station on Western Railway while she was waiting for a train with two of her family members recently. The accused also pulled out a knife to threaten her and other commuters. It was later found that he has a criminal history. The survivor is a Nala Sopara resident. On August 25, she had gone to Chembur with her mother and sister. While heading back home, the trio first travelled from Chembur to Kurla and then took a train till Dadar. Around 9.40pm, they reached Dadar’s platform number three on WR and were waiting for a Virar-bound local when the accused struck. “The accused is a rag picker. He touched the woman inappropriately while she was standing on the platform. When she confronted him, he began to hurl expletives,” said senior inspector Shailendra Dhivar, Mumbai Central GRP. Soon, a crowd of female passengers gathered in her support and began to hit the man who whipped out a knife and threatened them all. A patrolling police team was informed and the man was taken into custody before he could hurt anyone. A media professional was among the witnesses to the incident. She immediately dialed senior GRP and RPF officers to appraise them of the crime. “’The accused was identified as Verghese D’Souza (39). He is a Dharavi resident. In the past, he had been booked on charges of assault and robbery,” said Dhivar. D’Souza was produced before a railway court. The GRP will initiate preventive action against him. D’Souza was found to be ticketless. He has been booked for molestation under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code and for ticketless travel under provisions of the Indian Railway Act. Earlier, Dharavi police, too, had initiated preventive action against D’Souza, said the police.



H1N1 claims 11 lives in state in August; 15 people on ventilator


Pune: August is turning out to be the deadliest month for the state as far as swine flu is concerned. As many as 11 people succumbed to swine flu or H1N1infection in Maharashtra in August, taking the state’s casualty count to 21 so far this year. Besides, 79 new cases were recorded in the state in the given month—a steep rise when compared to 40 cases till July. Moreover, a total of 15 patients with swine flu are currently on ventilator support at various hospitals in the state, including 10 in Pune city and three in Pimpri Chinchwad. “We held an urgent meeting of health officials against this backdrop (the sharp rise in cases) and have directed them to treat every symptomatic case,” Shashikant Jadhav, joint director of state health department, told TOI. The officials have been directed to administer oseltamivir (popularly known as Tamiflu or Fluvir) within 48 hours if a patient has swine flu-like symptoms and has no other comorbid condition. “Besides, we have asked the officials to administer the drug within 24 hours if the patient has other co-morbid conditions, along with unrelenting influenza-like illness. It has been seen that delayed treatment can lead to complications,” Jadhav added. The state health department has vaccinated 1.3 lakh highrisk individuals against the virus this year so far. “We aim to step up the vaccination in view of the significant rise,” he said. Meanwhile, even as the number of swine flu cases soars, unavailability of oseltamivir syrup at state-run hospitals is expected to aggravate the situation. The syrup is used to treat the infection in children below the age of 10. Though unavailable at state-run hospitals, there is no dearth of the syrup at private medical stores.



After Blue Whale, Government issues alert against Momo Challenge



New Delhi: The government has issued an advisory against the Momo Challenge – an online game similar to the infamous Blue Whale game — that pushes children, teenagers, and relatively younger people towards suicide. The advisory, issued by the ministry of electronics & IT, comes in the wake of reports of suicide by some youngsters in certain parts of the country. “It is reported in the media that there is a new online challenge game called the ‘Momo Challenge’ which started on Facebook where members are ‘challenged’ to communicate with unknown numbers. It went viral on social media platforms, especially WhatsApp,” the ministry said as it asked the parents to look for “signs and symptoms” to guard their children against any potential danger. The signs include children becoming withdrawn from friends and family, or having persistent low mood and unhappiness. They may look worried and fail to carry out day-to-day tasks, or have sudden outbursts of anger. Other symptoms include loss of interest in activities that they previously used to enjoy, or even having visible marks like deep cuts or wounds on any part of the body.


“Check in with your child, ask how things are going. Ask if there have been things stressing them, or anything that has them worried… Monitor your children’s online and social-media activity to ensure they are not engaging in this game,” the advisory stated. Also, it said that parents should not have discussions about the deadly game with the child if s/he is still unaware of it. “By doing so, you increase the chance that your child will search for it on their own.” The ministry also advised that parents should install a good cyber/mobile parenting software which helps them in monitoring your children. The Momo Challenge consists of a variety of self-harming dares which become increasingly risky as the game progresses, and it finally ends with a suicide challenge. The game involves challenges that encourage teenagers/ children/ any other user to engage in a series of violent acts as challenges of the game. The game inspires them to add unknown contacts on WhatsApp by the name of “Momo”. Once the contact is added, the image of the terrifying Japanese “Momo” doll with bulging eyes appears in the display photo. The game controller than entices a player to perform a series of challenges and players are threatened with violent images, audios or videos if they do not follow instructions.



Workshop on Road Safety for Officials



New Delhi: Aiming to ensure safety for all road users, Delhi government had implemented the capital’s first road safety policy in July. It gave priority to pedestrians and cyclists, with focus on achieving the target of zero fatalities due to road accidents. According to the policy, decision makers, engineers and cops have to be trained in making roads safe. The first sensitisation workshop for senior officials of different departments was carried out on Wednesday. “After bringing out a progressive #RoadSafety policy, #DelhiGovt is organising a sensitisation workshop today along with SaveLIFEIndia for all officials concerned. Experts from NGOs, hospitals, emergency care and scientific crash investigation will provide training,” transport minister Kailash Gahlot tweeted. He also took part in the workshop, along with 100 nodal officers from departments of transport, health, public works and Delhi Police.


Under the policy, traffic cops and engineering staff of all road owning agencies will have to undergo a three- to five-day training on road safety every two years. Training modules for traffic police will include sensitisation towards pedestrians and cyclists, traffic management, and enabling safe crossings. For road engineers, the training will include conducting road safety inspections and audit, rectification of black spots and planning and design of new and existing roads. “The workshop was for complete orientation on all aspects of road safety, including the importance of data collection and crash investigation,” said Piyush Tewari, founder and CEO, SaveLIFE Foundation. He added that at present, in-depth investigation into road crashes does not take place because of which its cause remains unknown. Most cases then go against the bigger vehicle involved in an accident, Tewari added.



15 Families Evacuated after Geologist’s Alert



Bengaluru: An alert from a geologist on Monday, stating that a particular area in Karike village of Kodagu could see a landslide any time, helped evacuate people from there. Ananya Vasudev RM, an assistant lecturer of geology at the National Institute of Technology Karnataka, Surathkal, detected soil piping — where water gets beneath the surface, creating an underground tunnel — in the village and immediately alerted the district administration and recommended evacuation as the place was prone to landslides. Sources in Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre confirmed that Karike is prone to landslides. Soil piping is internal soil erosion caused by water getting beneath the earth’s surface. It leads to increased erosion, making the land less resistant and resulting in a collapse. Ananya, who had returned to Surathkal on Monday after having volunteered in Kodagu for days, received a video from a friend which showed loud sound coming from beneath the ground. Ananya called his friend, collected more details and sought a fresh video. “After analysing the videos, I was sure that it was soil piping, and knew that the people had to be evacuated immediately.


I spoke to Kodagu deputy commissioner Sreevidya and timely action was taken,” Ananya told TOI. Sreevidya said she received information about soil piping from Ananya on Monday evening, while the panchayat development officers had already alerted about potential landslides in the morning. “Following this, we took necessary precautions and shifted people from the area,” she said. Ramesh L Dikpal, project scientist, KSNDMC, while claiming that their local teams did not spot any sign of a landslide, said they evacuated people from 15 houses around the spot where the sound was heard. Ananya said he learnt about soil piping in detail a few years ago while attending a workshop at the National Centre for Earth Science Studies in Thiruvananthapuram. “We had visited many areas, including parts of Western Ghats, where we got to study soil piping,” he said.



MBA grad held for making hoax bomb calls to Airport


Bengaluru: A 34-year-old man, who holds a mechanical engineering degree and an MBA, has landed in police custody for allegedly making a series of hoax bomb calls to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) and KSR City railway station in a week. K Aditya Rao, a bachelor, is a resident of Manipal in Udupi district. He had come to Bengaluru in search of a job. Rao told police that he grew frustrated after KIA rejected his applications for the post of security guard twice. Kala Krishnamurthy, deputy commissioner of police (northeast), said they are verifying the antecedents of the accused. Rao had allegedly made threat calls to KIA on August 21 and 27 and to Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna railway station on August 27. Applied for security guard’s post? Police officials are verifying Rao’s claim that he had twice applied for the job. “Why would a person with such high qualifications apply for the post of security guard? We’ve asked KIA officials to trace his applications, if any,” they said. Rao had worked as a junior manager (sales) with a multinational bank, which has a branch on MG Road, in 2008. “After three years, he joined another bank as sales manager. Due to a technical problem, he quit the company in 2014 and took up the job of a security guard at an educational institution in Udupi,” police said. From bank manager to cook: His family members were upset after Rao chose to become a guard. “Rao’s father is a retired private company employee and mother a homemaker. His younger brother works with a private company in Dakshina Kannada district. Forced by his family, Aditya Rao quit the job at the school and became a cook at a mutt in Udupi. Again his parents objected to this and sent him to Bengaluru in May, asking him to find a better job,” police added. Police said they did not come across anything unusual in his behaviour, except that he’s a little different.



Fortnight later, flooded Kochi airport reopens

The first flight (Indigo 6E 667 from Ahmedabad) arrives at Cochin International Airport after it resumed operations on Wednesday.



Kochi: Cochin International Airport (Cial), which records the fourth highest international traffic in the country, started operations on Wednesday, a fortnight after it was rendered non-functional due to flooding. Nearly 60 flights operated from the airport in keeping with schedule from 2pm on Wednesday. Cial handles around 200 flights daily and airport director ACK Nair believes that almost all flights will resume by Thursday. “Our staff showed great motivation and dedication to get the airport up and running once again. We expect all flights to resume operations by Thursday,” he said. Many passengers were skeptical whether the airport would be able resume operations even after incurring losses to the tune of Rs 300 crore, according to the latest announcement. The airport authorities had to extend the date of resuming operations from August 26 to 29 due the enormity of cleaning work. Captain Gurpal Singh, the pilot of the first flight to land in Kochi on Wednesday, said the runway, which was covered in slush after the flood, was in good condition.



2 firemen fall into Mukkombu dam as boat capsizes, rescued



Trichy: Two firemen, camping at Mukkombu Upper Anaicut where construction of a temporary bund is under way, fell into the water as the lifeboat on which they were crossing the portion washed away failed to move and overturned. However, their colleagues rescued them after a 40-minute-long exercise. More than 500 workers are involved in filling sandbags to construct the temporary bund to block the water flowing through the gap of the regulator. While over two dozen engineers are on the job, day and night, fire tenders, state disaster response force and a medical team have also been deployed there. A team from the fire and rescue services department from cantonment comprising 12 people headed by a fire station officer has been keenly watching the activities. S Rajkumar, 27, and A Kanagaraj, 30, were assigned to bring two workers who have been working on the north side of the river bed. While the two firemen were crossing the washed away portion, the motor fitted on their lifeboat suddenly stopped. Subsequently, due to undercurrents, the boat turned towards the east and began to float downstream. Sensing danger, both the firemen jumped out of the boat and caught hold of one of the damaged piers. Subsequently, the boat overturned, creating panic among the workers and fire officials. As the firemen were not wearing life jackets, they could not swim or float on the water. However, other firemen who were on a fishing boat came to their rescue and using a long rope rescued the two after a 45-minute struggle.



International News



Woman scribe hacked to death in Bangladesh



Dhaka: A woman journalist of a television channel in Bangladesh was hacked to death with a sharp-edged weapon by some unidentified assailants at her home, media reports said on Wednesday. Subarna Akter Nodi, 32, was a correspondent of private news channel Ananda TV and also worked for the Daily Jagroto Bangla newspaper, reported. Nodi, who is survived by a 9-year-old daughter, was awaiting divorce from her husband, the report said. The assailants, said to be around 10 to 12, came on motorcycles and rang the doorbell of her house at around 10.45pm on Tuesday, it said. When she answered the door, they attacked her and fled the spot. The family of Nodi said they suspect her former husband is behind the killing.



Dozens of Facebook employees unite to challenge its ‘intolerant’ liberal culture



San Francisco: The post went up quietly on Facebook’s internal message board last week. Titled “We Have a Problem with Political Diversity”, it quickly took off inside the social network. “We are a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views,” Brian Amerige, a senior Facebook engineer, wrote in the post. “We claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack — often in mobs — anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology”. Since the post went up, more than 100 Facebook employees have joined Amerige to form an online group called FB’ers for Political Diversity, according to two people who viewed the group’s page and who were not authorised to speak publicly. The aim of the initiative, according to Amerige’s memo, is to create a space for ideological diversity within the company. The new group has upset other Facebook employees, who said its online posts were offensive to minorities. One engineer, who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation, said several people had lodged complaints with their managers about FB’ers for Political Diversity and were told that it had not broken any company rules. Another employee said the group appeared to be constructive and inclusive of different political views. Amerige did not respond to requests for comment.


The activity is a rare sign of organised dissent within Facebook over the company’s largely liberal workplace culture. While the new group is just a sliver of Facebook’s work force of more than 25,000, the company’s workers have in the past appeared less inclined than their peers at other tech companies to challenge leadership, and most have been loyalists to its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. But over the past two years, Facebook has undergone a series of crises, including the spread of misinformation by Russians on its platform and the mishandling of users’ data. Facebook has also been accused of stifling conservative speech by President Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, among others. This month, the social network barred the far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, a move that critics seized on as further evidence that the company harbours an anti-conservative bias. On Tuesday, Trump again brought up the issue of bias by tech companies with tweets attacking Google. In remarks later in the day, he widened his focus to include Twitter and Facebook. Those companies “better be careful because you can’t do that to people,” he said. “I think that Google, and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful. It is not fair to large portions of the population”.

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