News Flash – 5 July 2017

National News



Malabar exercise to bring together Indian, US, Japanese warships

All set for the Malabar exercise.



NEW DELHI: Power play on the high seas, with China firmly in the crosshairs, kicks off next week. India, the US and Japan have all deployed their largest warships for the top-notch Malabar exercise to be held in the Bay of Bengal from July 10. The tri-lateral exercise, with around 15 warships, two submarines and scores of fighter jets, surveillance aircraft and helicopters, comes at a time when Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a tense face-off near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction since mid-June. The Indian Navy has also recorded an “unusual surge” in the number of Chinese warships and submarines entering the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) over the last two months, in a clear indication of muscle-flexing by China after achieving what it believes is near-dominance in the contentious South China Sea, as earlier reported by TOI. Incidentally, in the ongoing shadow-boxing between India and China, visiting deputy PM and foreign minister of Vietnam Pham Binh Minh met defence minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday afternoon to discuss ways to further boost bilateral military cooperation, which already includes training of Vietnamese submariners and military supplies. India has slowly but steadily stepped up defence ties with Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore to give China a taste of its own medicine.


In the show of strength during the Malabar exercise, the Indian flotilla of six to seven frontline warships and a Kilo-class submarine will be led by the 44,570-tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. This will be the first time the country’s solitary carrier, with its MiG-29Ks, will take part in a fully-fledged combat exercise with foreign countries since it was commissioned in November 2013. Sources said the US will be fielding its over 100,000-tonne USS Nimitz, a nuclear-powered super-carrier with its full complement of F/A-18 fighters. The ‘carrier strike group’ will include a Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser, a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine and three to four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Japan is fielding its 27,000-tonne helicopter carrier Izumo and another warship for the intensive 10-day combat man oeuvres on the high seas off Chennai. Interestingly, the new Japanese warship, which can carry nine helicopters, is primarily meant for anti-submarine warfare. So, one of the main thrust areas of this 21st edition of Malabar will be “submarine-hunting”, with India and the US also deploying their Poseidon-8 long-range maritime patrol aircraft.


The Indian Navy has inducted eight of the 12 P-8I aircraft ordered from the US for $3.2 billion, which are packed with radars and armed with deadly Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges, while the US Navy operates the P-8A variants. A Yuan-class diesel-electric submarine, the seventh underwater boat to be deployed by China in the IOR since December 2013, is currently in the region after an operational turnaround at Karachi. Chinese intelligence-gathering ship Haiwingxing is also in the vicinity to snoop on the Malabar exercise, as was earlier reported by TOI. Royal Australian Navy warship HMAS Newcastle is currently in Kochi soon after India and Australia conducted a naval combat exercise off Freemantle in mid-June. Though India did not agree to include Australia in the Malabar exercise, the US has in the past pushed India to join a quadrilateral security dialogue in the Asia Pacific region geared towards countering China’s assertiveness in the area. China is extremely wary that such a security construct will seek to “contain” it, and had lodged a strong protest against the Malabar exercise in 2007, which saw India, the US, Japan, Australia and Singapore come together for war-games in the Bay of Bengal.



Mumbai: Mystery woman leaps before train, walks away unhurt

A still from the CCTV footage



MUMBAI: A middle-aged woman miraculously survived and walked away without a scratch after leaping before a train at Ghatkopar station. The incident occurred nearly 10 days ago, but came to light after the authorities started reviewing old CCTV footage. The unidentified woman stepped into Ghatkopar railway station from the entrance close to Jhunjhunwala College on June 23. She was dressed in a green saree and black blouse. At 10.19am, she walked to the Kalyan-end of platform 1. She stood at the edge of the platform and jumped on the tracks as the train approached. CCTV footage showed her falling in the middle of the tracks. “The train had slowed down as there was a red signal. Shocked onlookers gathered soon after and one of them informed the motorman while others tried to peer into the gap between the train and the platform,” said a Railway Protection Force (RPF) officer. Onlookers were worried that she had been run over. There was no way of rescuing her so the crowd waited till the train left the station. CCTVs captured witnesses expressing surprise when they couldn’t spot her anywhere on the tracks. It appears that the woman got up, climbed on to another platform then went on to the footover bridge. CCTVs on the bridge captured her walking normally without injuries at 10.22am. She got off the bridge on platform 1 and exited the station from the same spot where she had entered. The motorman did not inform Central Railways nor the Government Railway Police (GRP).



Delhi: Security Guard found dead with stab wounds in bike showroom



NEW DELHI: A 30-year-old security guard was found murdered with multiple sharp injuries on Tuesday morning, inside a two-wheeler showroom — where he worked — at Begampur in northwest Delhi’s Rohini district. The accused decamped with a two-wheeler and also took the digital video recorder (DVR) from the showroom. Police suspect personal enmity behind the murder as the accused fled with only one two wheeler from nearly a dozen that were kept in the showroom. Some cash kept at the showroom was also left untouched. Officers also said that the entry to the place was friendly. The victim, Shriprakash, was found with at least a dozen stab wounds on his body which appears to have been inflicted using a screw driver and other blunt objects, police said. The showroom’s manager told police that Shriprakash was on night shift when the assailants broke in and murdered him. Police received a call at 7am from one of the local residents. The caller told police that the two wheeler showroom was locked from outside even as the guard was supposed to be there. Police broke the lock and found Shriprakash lying in a pool of blood. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival. The body was later sent for postmortem. Investigation was hampered due to the missing DVR, police said. Deputy commissioner of police (Rohini) Rishi Pal said Shriprakash, who was from Uttar Pradesh, lived with his younger brother near the showroom. He worked as a mechanic and also a residential security guard.



Burglars strike at Muthoot again, but return empty-handed this time

A staff member assists the cops at the scene of crime.



HYDERABAD: Hardly a few weeks after the Cyberabad police arrested Sunder Rajaratnam Kangalla, the brain behind a series of heists at Muthoot Finance offices in different states, another gang made a robbery bid at Muthoot’s Mylardevpally branch on Tuesday morning. However, due to the resistance of the staff and intervention of locals, the robbers had to flee from the place empty-handed. At 10.05 am, two persons, conversing in Hindi, entered the Muthoot office near Bandlaguda X Roads in Mylardevpally .The duo wanted to mortgage a gold ring and take Rs 20,000. As an executive of the finance firm was asking the duo to submit a local address proof to start the proceedings, two other men, one armed with a dagger, entered the office at 10.10 am.


The office of Muthoot Finance in Mylardevpally


Immediately, the duo pretending to mortgage the gold ring showed their true colours. “One of them pulled out a gun and went to manager Abdul Lateef ‘s cabin. The man holding the dagger and his two associates started threatening the staff to stay quiet and open the gold locker,” Cyberabad additional DCP (crimes) B Srinivasa Reddy said. However, instead of cooperating with the gun-wielding assailant, Lateef ran to the window and screamed for help. “I saw workers standing near the window and screamed for help. The assailant put the gun to my face and shut the window. The other assailants threatened my staff with knife,” Lateef said. On hearing the screams of Lateef, building owner Kishore, who was nearby with some labourers, came running to the Muthoot office with a stick. A few workers and I went to the office on the first floor with sticks. The offenders pointed a gun at me and all of us ran for cover,” Kishore said.


Meanwhile, one of the Muthoot Finance employees, Sirisha, triggered the anti-burglary alarm and, as the situation quickly started slipping out of control, the four ran out of the office. The staff gave a chase, but they got into a white Tavera (TS 12 EB 5711) parked nearby and sped away at 10.12 am. After police launched a massive manhunt, they found the abandoned Tavera at My Homes Towers in Upparapally in the evening. The vehicle registration number was found to be fake. Police verified the chassis number and found it was registered in Valsad, Gujarat in the name of Vinod M Purohit with registration number GJ 15 CA 4715. A special team will go to Gujarat on Wednesday. Police launched a massive cordon and search operation at Upparapally. They have roped in Octopus to carry out searches at the apartment complex as the assailants were carrying firearms. The complex has about 900 flats and several Gujarati families stay there. The getaway vehicle crossed Patancheru toll gate of ORR at 6.51am on Tuesday. The day before, it had crossed the toll gate at 3.19 pm. The same vehicle had crossed the toll gate on June 1, June 18, June 23 and July 3.



Get your ration with a phone call, OTP system



BENGALURU: Having seeded almost all the 3.5 crore ration cards with Aadhaar, the state food and civil supplies department will soon launch a one-time password (OTP) system for people to get their ration in Karnataka. With an existing IVRS line of 161, the OTP option will be added for ration cardholders to accommodate even basic phone users to get their ration on their mobile. According to the department principal secretary (in-charge) Harsh Gupta, the OTP system will be launched in the coming weeks. The OTP can be handed over to the PDS shop manager, who will enter the password in his point of sale (POS) system to give the ration to the cardholder. So how will the system work? any ration cardholder, with access to a mobile phone, can call the IVRS line to seek information on allocated ration against his name. “The IVRS will provide an option to seek ration detail. The cardholder will have to press the designated number and enter his Aadhaar card number to cross-verify the details. Once verified, the system will send a text with an OTP to the registered cell number of the Aadhaar cardholder. The same can then be given to the PDS shop manager to collect ration,” said Gupta. With the POS system, the OTP can be entered into the main frame and an automatic receipt will be generated, which includes details of how much ration is allocated to the individual cardholder.


The POS system is a laptop or palmtop attached to a fingerprint scanner. Once details are entered, the PDS shop gets connected to the main server of the food and civil supplies department that will have every ration cardholder’s details. Modernization efforts of the department have seen POS systems being installed in as many as 4,785 PDS shops in the state. There are 20,384 PDS shops in Karnataka. However, there is resistance from PDS shops to shift to the POS system. With greater transparency, the department claims PDS shop owners will be unable to siphon off food grains or indulge in black marketing. To encourage all shops to shift to the POS system, the department is now increasing commission to PDS shops by another 75%, effectively giving shop owners a 175% commission on the distribution of food grains. The department said as many as 24.48 lakh ration cardholders are now getting rations using the POS system, with various other facilities including change of ration shop, deletion of family member’s name and change of address.



Penalty points in traffic, regular offenders beware



HYDERABAD: Beginning August, traffic violators’ fear of penalty points is all set to become a reality with the traffic police launching the penalty point system in the city. Frequent violators will see automatic suspension of driving licenses warned cops. “The Penalty Point System is being introduced for the first time in India to inculcate self-discipline among commuters with a view to transform Hyderabad city into a safe place for commuting and a delightful place for driving. The implementation of the Penalty Point System shall come into effect from 01.08.2017,” reads an official statement from the commissioner of police, Hyderabad. As per the new rule, each traffic offences will carry 1-5 penalty points and the tally of 12 is enough to have the driving license cancelled for a year. Reaching the tally of 12 penalty points subsequently will attract suspension of license for two and three years progressively. On further repetition of accumulation of 12 points every time, the driving licence shall be suspended for a period of 3 years.


People having a learner’s license stand to have it cancelled if they reach a tally of 5 penalty points, if the license is still valid. Also a database of offenses and penalty points will be maintained at the RTA level and also in a centralized database to ensure that offenders are accorded the strictest punishment that can deter further offences. Meanwhile, the traffic police has integrated the e-challan system of the police with the Telangana State Road Transport Authority’s recently launched M Wallet app that allows carrying digitized transport documents. The Hyderabad Traffic e-Challan data base has now been linked with the app. If any traffic violation is booked against any vehicle, SMS is automatically generated on the mobile of the owner, and a notification will also be sent to the app.



Paramilitary force deployed in Baduria after riot

With the arterial Taki Road leading to the border areas of Berachampa, Baduria and Basirhat blocked from Monday evening, thousands of people were stranded at Barasat overnight. A few vehicles that were willing to enter the troubled zone saw a mad scramble for a foothold on Tuesday.



KOLKATA: BSF and other paramilitary forces were deployed in Baduria of Basirhat where a riot broke out from Sunday night following a Facebook post by a Class XII student. The student has been arrested. However, the members of the other community had blocked roads and had brought out rallies demanding his death. Three police vehicles were torched by protesting mob. Union home minister Rajnath Singh had rang up Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to discuss the issue. Earlier the Governor of Bengal Keshari Nath Tripathi had urged Mamta to follow Rajdharma and ensure safety and security of the people. However, it was seen as a threat by Mamata, as the CM said that she had been humiliated by Governor Tripathi. Following which Tripathi’s office had to issue a press release stating that as a Governor he cannot remain to be a mute spectator. He had urged the CM to deploy paramilitary force to resume normalcy.



Door-to-door plan flops, residents pay to clean garbage



CHENNAI: Greater Chennai Corporation has more than 5,300 tricycles at its disposal but they have failed the purpose they were meant to serve -door-to-door collection and segregation of waste -in many parts of the city . Though the data from the civic body shows 89.5% of the tricycles were available for garbage collection in zones 9, 10 and 13 on June 4 and 99.4% of tricycles were working in the rest of the 12 zones, garbage collection from each house is not possible given the corporation’s manpower crunch. “Door-to-door segregation is impossible with the resources available. We are doing it in two or three areas, but are still working on the plan,” admitted a conservancy inspector in the area. As part of the door-to-door collection, workers collect segregated waste from 6.30am to 10.30am.


Since the reach of the garbage collection service is limited, some resident associations in Venkatarathinam Nagar and on Gandhi Nagar 2nd Main Road pay private individuals to collect garbage from their homes. “I had no clue about the corporation’s initiative. Several residents of our association have paid an individual to collect waste and put it in the dustbin that gets cleared by compactors,” said C Namahchivayam of Venkatarathinam Nagar. On Gandhi Nagar 4th Main Road, residents have come together and are engaging in segregation and waste collection. “We have requested the civic body for a composting ground in the area which they said they will provide when they have funds,” resident Meera Ravikumar said. Residents feel the public and the civic body should work together to keep localities clean. “Many people dump waste near bins, taking it for granted that a conservancy worker will remove it. This attitude of people and the lackadaisical nature of the bodies carrying out cleaning need to change,” said 90-year-old activist Kamakshi Subramanian.



International News



US terror attacks ‘given five times more news coverage if attacker is Muslim’



LONDON: Terror attacks carried out by Muslims receive more than five times as much media coverage as those carried out by non-Muslims in the United States, according to an academic study. Analysis of newspaper coverage of all terrorist incidents on American soil between 2011 and 2015 found there was a 449 per cent increase in media attention when the perpetrator was Muslim. Muslims committed just 12.4 per cent of attacks during the period studied but received 41.4 per cent of news coverage, the survey found. The authors, who counted up the total number of articles dedicated to each incident, said the findings suggest the media is making people disproportionately fearful of Muslim terrorists. They discovered that the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which was carried out by two Muslim attackers and killed three people, received almost 20 per cent of all coverage relating to US terror attacks in the five-year period. In contrast, reporting of a 2012 massacre at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left six people dead and was carried out by Wade Michael Page, a white man, constituted just 3.8 per cent of coverage. A mass shooting by Dylann Roof, who is also white, at an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, killed nine people but received only 7.4 per cent of media coverage, while a 2014 attack by Frazier Glenn Miller on a Kansas synagogue left three dead but accounted for just 3.3 per cent of reports. All of these attacks are considered to meet widely-used definitions of terrorism, according to researchers at Georgia State University.


The authors said their findings debunked Donald Trump‘s suggestion, made in February, that the media is not reporting terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims. “When President Trump asserted that the media does not cover some terrorist attacks enough, it turns out that he was correct,” they wrote. “However, his assertion that attacks by Muslim perpetrators received less coverage is unsubstantiated. Regardless of other factors, attacks perpetrated by Muslims receive a disproportionate amount of media coverage. In the present data, Muslims perpetrated 12.4 per cent of the attacks yet received 41.4 per cent of the news coverage. Whether the disproportionate coverage is a conscious decision on the part of journalists or not, this stereotyping reinforces cultural narratives about what and who should be feared. By covering terrorist attacks by Muslims dramatically more than other incidents, media frame this type of event as more prevalent. Based on these findings, it is no wonder that Americans are so fearful of radical Islamic terrorism. Reality shows, however, that these fears are misplaced”.



Dengue outbreak in Sri Lanka kills 225

A Sri Lankan Municipal worker sprays pesticide in a drain.



COLOMBO: Sri Lanka is suffering its worst-ever dengue outbreak, with the mosquito borne virus killed 225 people and infected more than 76,000 this year. Alarmed by the magnitude of the crisis, the government deployed 400 soldiers and police officers to clear away rotting garbage, stagnant water pools and other potential mosquito breeding grounds. Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni, Colombo’s chief medical officer, said people’s failure to clear puddles and piles of trash after last month’s heavy monsoon rains had compounded the problem. “It’s pathetic that they don’t keep clean their environment,” Wijayamuni said. “Some residents do not allow officials to inspect the houses and clean them. This is really unacceptable”. The number of infections nationwide is already 38 percent higher than last year, when 55,150 people were diagnosed with dengue and 97 died, according to the Health Ministry. The highest number of cases is in the region around the main city of Colombo, though cases were being reported across the tropical island nation.


“This is mostly an urban disease” said Dr. Priscilla Samaraweera of the National Dengue Eradication Unit. Last month’s heavy rains left the cities waterlogged, with puddles and rain soaked garbage providing ideal spots for mosquitoes to breed and multiply. In Colombo alone, 25 teams of soldiers, police officers and public health inspectors were knocking on doors at people’s homes, advising them to clear clogged drains and empty outdoor pots that might have filled with rainwater. Health officials were also fumigating public spaces. This year’s strain is particularly dangerous, Samaraweera said. There is no cure for any of the four strains of the virus, which causes a high fever, weeks of exhaustion and in some cases a vicious skin rash. Patients most at risk of dying are the elderly, children or those with other medical complications. Hospitals were so crowded with dengue patients, the army was building two temporary wards at Negombo Base Hospital, about 38 kilometers north of Colombo, military spokesman Brig. Roshan Senevirathna said. President Maithripala Sirisena urged the public to cooperate with officials trying to fight the disease, saying it could affect the ” lives of all the citizens of the country”.



Heavy rain in Southern China causes floods, killing 56

Rescuers transfer residents with a boat at a flooded area in Guilin, Guangxi province, China July 2, 2017. Picture taken July 2, 2017.



BEIJING: Chinese authorities say least 56 people have been killed and 22 are missing as heavy rains slammed southern China, flooding rivers and towns, cutting off power and halting traffic. China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs said Tuesday that as much as 48.6 centimeters (19 inches) of rain were dumped on several cities since Thursday, including the scenic resort city of Guilin in the Guangxi region. The ministry says more than 9.5 million people have been affected in some way by the strong rains. Water in major rivers and lakes in the southern province of Hunan have surged to alarming levels, and the collapse of levees forced large-scale evacuations. The airport serving the southwestern hub of Chengdu was shut down for more than an hour on Monday because of rain.

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