News Flash – 30 June 2018

National News



Army of ex-servicemen to protect Ganga, patrol ghats


NEW DELHI: They spent the prime years of their life guarding the country’s borders. Now, this army of ex-servicemen will protect the Ganga, keep it clean, stop people from throwing trash into its water and patrol its Ghats. The Indian Army is raising a battalion of 532 ex-servicemen named ‘Ganga Task Force’, including nine officers and 29 JCOs. They will be deployed in Allahabad, Varanasi and Kanpur. To begin with, 200 personnel have been mobilised and are undergoing training in Allahabad. They will be engaged in this task for three years. Director general of National Mission for Clean Ganga Rajiv Ranjan Mishra told TOI, “Involving ex-servicemen was the natural choice considering their role in critical situations. This is part of a series to involve more people in cleaning Ganga”. The ex-servicemen will also be involved in tree plantation on the river banks to check soil erosion, creating public awareness, participating in campaigns and patrolling the river for biodiversity protection and monitoring river pollution. “Their deployment will bring discipline among visitors. They will work with district committees under the Clean Ganga Mission,” Mishra said. Officials said the task force in Allahabad has already raised a nursery of close to one lakh saplings and 15 lakh seed balls. They will also work with NGOs to encourage people to get their houses connected to sewage systems.



Heavy rain likely on Monday and Tuesday



MUMBAI: Heavy rain is expected to return to the city on Monday or Tuesday, according to officials of the India Meteorological Department(IMD). On Friday, the rainfall recorded by the IMD’s Colaba observatory was 6.4mm and the Santacruz observatory was 9mm. Weather officials said that while a few spells of rain were expected over the next two days, Monday may see heavy rainfall. Nitha T, scientist at IMD Mumbai, said, “South Konkan may see more rain than North Konkan,” she said. Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai fall under North Konkan. Meanwhile, the quantum of water in the seven lakes that supply to Mumbai touched 2.88 lakh million litres on Friday from 2.05 lakh million litres on June 25. Water stock in the seven lakes must be around 14.5 lakh million litres by monsoon-end to ensure round-the-year supply to the city.



Class IX girl leaps off building, 2nd from same school to end life in 2 months


MUMBAI: A 14-year-old schoolgirl was captured on camera as she jumped to her death off the refuge area on the 8th floor of a highrise at Kandivli’s Thakur Village on Wednesday. The Class IX student lived with her parents in an adjacent building. Police said the girl was conscious after the fall and spoke to her mother. But investigators have not concluded the reason for the drastic step. With two children ending their lives in as many months, the school intends to conduct suicide prevention programmes for parents and students. “We held a session in May and are roping in experts this time too,” a teacher told TOI. The girl studied in the ICSE stream and was bright at academics. She was a prefect at school and was chosen for her good overall performance. Teachers said she had attended school on Thursday and nothing had happened which could have upset her. Around 2.30pm, the girl returned from school. She then left home on the pretext of going to tuitions, in the same complex. Instead, she headed to another building and went to the eighth-floor refuge area. The housing complex’s developer has built a wing for BMC Class 4 employees. But they are not permitted to use the front entrance and have access to their homes from a separate back entrance. A relative of one BMC staffer witnessed the suicide. “I was at the window when I first saw this girl in the window of the refuge area around 4.30pm. I called out to my brothers and we alerted the gardener below.


But he wouldn’t pay heed to us,” said Chetan Tiwari. “As the girl climbed down and sat on the parapet, I was terrified. My brother whipped out his phone and started to shoot a video clip. We started screaming and the guards finally took us seriously. But it was too late by the time they could go upstairs,” said Tiwari. The clip was circulated on WhatsApp and soon went viral, leaving her friends and neighbours stunned. “The refuge area cannot be kept locked nor can a wire mesh be put up as per fire department orders. We had put up CCTV cameras in the area which have captured the girl going to the parapet,” said society manager Rajesh Medhe. “A guard has been posted there since the incident”. Residents informed the girl’s mother and carried the girl into a car. She succumbed to injuries at the hospital. “She had celebrated her birthday eight to 10 days ago,” her tuition teacher said. “She was never stressed about studies and had smiled at me while leaving from tuitions on Wednesday. She didn’t turn up for her tuition class on Thursday, and I was planning to ask her about her absence on Friday, when I heard of her passing away,” she added.



With CCTV’s, guards on duty, Delhi Police aims to rev up security in PGs

A policeman patrolling at Mukherjee Nagar.



For students, finding an accommodation close to the campus is as difficult as getting admission in DU. And it goes without saying that especially for female students, security is one of the most important criteria while selecting a PG. It seems, however, picking a PG with good security isn’t only worrisome for the students, but the issue has become a headache for the police too. After dealing with endless complaints last year, the Delhi Police has now taken it on upon itself and has prepared a security checklist for the PG owners. Most owners of paying guest accommodations aren’t able to provide proper security to the students. Which is why, many of them line up at the police station to complain against their PG owners, or call the helpline to rant about their problems just three-four months after moving in. So, to address the problem, this academic year, Delhi Police has decided to pitch in to ensure that all security measures are in place. In a recent meeting held between PG owners, RWAs and Delhi Police officials, the police officials asked the PG owners to be more co-operative. They have also asked them to install CCTV cameras at the entrance, which should be closely monitored. The police officials have said that every PG should deploy guards and not allow any outsiders to enter. Also, a register is required to be maintained to keep a record of the timings. The police officials say that they’ll conduct surprise checks in all the PGs year-round to ensure that the guidelines given to them are strictly followed.


PG owners say that even though they prefer having a girls’ PG above boys’, they still have guys creating trouble in girls’ PG’s. To tackle this, the Delhi Police officials will patrol residential areas too. While PG owners told the police that they prefer running a girls’ PG because boys are rowdy. They also said that boys create trouble even in a girls’ PG. A sub-inspector says, “In our meeting, the PG owners told us that keeping guys in a PG is a huge risk but running a girls’ PG is also not an easy task because guys keep roaming around the area. Even girls complain about this issue.” To address this, the North District Delhi Police will be deploying constables not only on campus, but in residential areas too. Apart from the PCR vans, local cops will also be patrolling in the area. A senior police official says, “One of the most common problems that students face is that the PG owners do not return the money that they take as three months’ advance. Now, after taking admission in the university, students often change their colleges, and they want to change their PG too. But in such scenarios, it becomes impossible for them to get the money back. So in the meeting, we also asked the PG owners to not harass students and return their security money. If they fail to do so, we will look into it”.



Telangana wakes up to fraud after UIDAI alert



HYDERABAD: After detecting a fraud in SR Nagar, the Telangana Stamps and Registration Department has pulled down a link to Mee-Seva centres on property registration documents, having finger prints and Aadhaar card copies. The moves follows a communication from Unique Identification Authority of India on Friday. UIDAI sent a communication after SR Nagar police in Hyderabad arrested a rubber stamp maker, who recreated fingerprints and used it to obtain SIM cards. The fraudster downloaded the fingerprint biometrics and Aadhaar numbers from the property registration documents. Despite the link to Mee-Seva centre being brought down, the threat to all property owners in the state is still there as their registration documents with fingerprints and Aadhaar copies can be obtained physically from Mee-Seva centres and sub-registrar offices. Telangana Stamps and Registration Department Joint IG Vemula Srinivasulu told TOI, “Based on the UIDAI communication, we shut the link from the registration department to Mee-Seva centre. They said we could reactivate once the issue is resolved. Currently people can’t obtain registration documents online from Mee-Seva centres and they have to physically visit the centres. They can approach the officers of sub-registrars and also obtain the documents,” he added. In undivided Andhra Pradesh, when Mee-Seva services were started in 2012, anyone could obtain a certified copy of registration document by paying Rs 250.


To ensure that they don’t get the wrong certificate, people can preview the certificate with only two pages viewed. Apart from the first page, another page having fingerprints and signatures can be viewed on the Mee-Seva site. It is suspected that the fraudster may have obtained it from the Mee-Seva site. “In Telangana, we stopped giving access to registration documents on the stamps and registration website long ago. “Only the owner of the property who receives One Time Password for once after registration can download the copy from the website. “Apart from this, there is no way registration document can be accessed on the website. But in Andhra Pradesh, it continues to have free access. In one instance, a document writer in Guntur-Vijayawada region downloaded 2.5 lakh documents before he was caught. “In Andhra Pradesh, a thumbnail of the documents can be viewed, but we have removed the thumbnail view option as well,” said Srinivasulu. He said, “All sale deeds of immovable properties are book-1 documents, and they are public documents. “Anyone can pay money at Mee-Seva centre and get a copy of it. But the fingerprints are encrypted, and they can’t be deciphered. We have to verify how the fraudster had downloaded the fingerprint and used them. It is an eye-opener. “And another angle is that Aadhar cards, which are produced as ID cards, during the registration process are displayed. We have to wait for communication from UIDAI on this,” he added.



International News



Three babies dead, 100 missing in migrant shipwreck off Libya

The lifeless bodies of three babies were brought ashore in Libya on Friday, victims of a Mediterranean migrant shipwreck in which survivors say 100 people are still missing.



AL-HMIDIYA: The lifeless bodies of three babies were brought ashore in Libya on Friday, victims of a Mediterranean migrant shipwreck in which survivors say 100 people are still missing. Around 120 migrants were aboard the inflatable craft when it ran into trouble, according to survivors taken to Al-Hmidiya, east of the capital Tripoli. Sixteen people were rescued, while the missing included two babies and three children under the age of 12. Survivors told AFP the boat sank a few hours after its pre-dawn departure from Garaboulli, east of Tripoli, following an explosion on board. The motor then caught fire and the vessel began taking on water, they said. The passengers included several Moroccan families, none of whom survived. “When I saw the number of people on the boat, I refused to get on board, because we had been told that we would be 20 (passengers),” said survivor Amri Swileh, from Yemen. Showing his bruised arms, the 26-year-old said he was threatened by smugglers and forced onto the boat. “I lost all of my Yemeni friends who were with me. All five of them are missing,” he said. While there were up to 15 women on board, the 16 rescued passengers were all young men from countries including Gambia, Zambia and Sudan. The only bodies recovered were those of the three babies, while the rest of the dead were left at the scene “for lack of resources”, a Libyan coastguard employee said. Salem al-Qadhi, a coastguard captain, said he was shocked when he reached the site of the incident. “It was horrible to see,” he said. Fishermen had spotted the migrant vessel in difficulty and contacted the Libyan coastguard.


The Libyan branch of the United Nation’s migration agency said it was supporting the 16 “traumatised” survivors, noting that there had been further rescue operations off the coast. An additional 345 migrants had been brought ashore in Tripoli and were receiving humanitarian assistance, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) wrote on Twitter. Libyan authorities have been involved in the rescue of hundreds of migrants in recent days. On June 18, five bodies were recovered and more than 100 people were saved after being shipwrecked off the Libyan coast. Nearly 1,000 migrants were rescued on June 24 from multiple inflatable boats which had run into trouble during perilous bids to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. The latest shipwreck came after European Union leaders reached a deal aimed at sharing the responsibility for hosting migrants more fairly across the bloc. The pact reached overnight includes a proposal to set up “disembarkation platforms” outside the EU as a way to reduce the number of people taking the perilous sea journey. But the forces of Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar on Friday rejected any foreign military presence in the south of the country to stem migration. Haftar heads the self-styled Libyan National Army and supports a parallel government in eastern Libya that challenges the authority of the country’s UN-backed unity government in Tripoli.



Maryland shooting: Paper covers its own tragedy from car park


ANNAPOLIS: In the shade of a car park in Maryland’s capital Annapolis, three journalists from the Capital Gazette typed grimly away — still without news of colleagues killed or injured when a gunman stormed the publication earlier on Thursday. “We’re putting out a paper tomorrow,” vowed Chase Cook, one of six reporters at the daily. His photographer colleague Joshua McKerrow got to work snapping photographs of the response by law enforcement outside their newsroom. Cook was working from his smartphone — from which he could access the newspaper’s editorial system. “I don’t know what else to do except this,” said Cook, who has worked since 2013 for ‘The Capital’, a local daily whose roots go back to 1727 said. “We’re just doing our job”. Their deadline had been pushed back to 9:30pm (local time). The Capital newspaper published a 40-page edition on Friday. Inside the newspaper, the pages were filled with details about the suspected gunman, the news organization’s origins in the 1720s and profiles on the five people who died.



Fleeing for their lives, migrants trek for the US

Central American migrants wait at a shelter in Tapachula, a southern Mexican border town which for many marks the start of the long journey to the United States.



TAPACHULA (MEXICO): First, the family store was looted. Then came phone calls demanding money, lots of it. Finally, threats to kill their two daughters. For this family it was time to leave Guatemala, right away, and seek asylum in the United States — like tens of thousands of other Central Americans who can no longer take life lived in abject poverty or under the thumb of ultra-violent street gangs. “Things spun out of control,” says matriarch Jimena, who prefers not to give her last name, for safety reasons. “The threats were so exorbitant that they asked for amounts of money we could not amass by selling a kidney,” she told AFP in Tapachula, a Mexican town on the border with Guatemala and staging ground for the long trek north in search of a better, safer life in the US. “Before we decided to leave, the threats were that they would kill our daughters,” said Jimena. Persecution from the street gangs is rampant, said Kristin Riis Halvorsen, head of the UN refugee agency’s office in Tapachula. “No one is safe. Obviously we see that people try to make the best decisions they have left. It is a matter of saving their lives”. It is in Tapachula that many migrants begin the long trip through Mexico en route to the US, to either sneak in or request asylum. It is a dangerous journey, with travelers enduring harassment from Mexican authorities or the risk of running into Mexican crime gangs.


Near Tapachula is the Suchiate River, which divides Mexico and Guatemala and where it is common to see whole families on makeshift boats, lugging their life’s belongings in a couple of suitcases. Other regulars are merchants or people who make a living going back and forth between the two countries. “Here, take a couple of steps and you are in Mexico,” says a man who shuttles people across the water in one of those vessels. The traffic is non-stop. With their lives in danger, Jimena did not hesitate to cross the river to enter Mexico. Here, they are filling out paperwork with the Mexican authorities before moving on. “We decided to flee because the situation in our country is so bad that we could not stay there. Our life was in danger. I cannot put my daughters’ lives at risk.” said Jimena. Staying in Mexico is not a good option because it is too close to Guatemala and there is the risk that the gangsters might come after them. What’s more, in Mexico they have no friends or relatives. “We thought about staying here. But it’s hard not knowing anyone, without having the support of somebody. Life here is hard,” said Jimena’s husband, who refused to give even his first name. But if and when they arrive at the US border, a cold reception awaits them thanks to President Donald Trump‘s “zero tolerance” policy of detaining and referring for prosecution anyone who crosses the border without papers, even those seeking asylum.


Until Trump suspended it last week amid an international outcry, US policy was to take away the children of parents detained at the border. But some 2,000 kids remain in the care of US authorities, and it is not clear how long it will take to reunite these families. “First, I am going to try — surrender directly to the immigration authorities and, hoping God will touch their hearts and they will let me stay,” said the husband. “We have thought about surrendering but people are saying no one is being let in any more. Otherwise, I don’t mind climbing over the fences. Anything to save my daughters’ lives,” said Jimena. US authorities say that from March to May of this year, more than 50,000 people have been detained crossing over from Mexico illegally. Of them, 15 percent do so as families and eight percent are unaccompanied minors. While they decide how to get through Mexico, Jimena says she wishes that US authorities would try to understand their plight. “There is no logical or real way they can understand what is happening,” she said. “The hardest thing we can do as human beings to leave one’s family behind. Leave the people that watched you grow up, your parents, crying out of fear that something is going to happen to you during the trip,” said Jimena.

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