News Flash – 6 May 2017

National News



After 26 years, Assam may lift AFSPA in some areas



GUWAHATI: The Assam government is reviewing whether the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) could be withdrawn from some areas before making recommendations to the Centre. This move may have repercussions in J&K and Manipur where the Act has been a major subject of dispute between the state governments and the Centre. Declaring the entire Assam as a “disturbed area”, the Centre had imposed the Act on November 27, 1990, at the height of militancy spearheaded by Ulfa. The Act enables the armed forces to exercise special powers while combating militancy. Dispur will now present its proposal to review continuation of the Act at a meeting of the strategic group of the Unified Command structure in the state headed by the Army next week. Additional director general of police (special branch) Pallab Bhattacharya said, “AFSPA has been in force in the state for 26 years. At the last meeting with MHA, the issue was raised. There are demands from various quarters to lift this Act. We are taking a relook …if it (the Act) can be withdrawn from some areas”.

He added, “The areas have to be identified after discussions. There is a large deployment of Army in the state and if it has to be withdrawn from some areas, the state government would then have to be empowered to make alternative security deployment in those areas. Then, instead of this Act, the IPC will be exercised in those areas to take action”. Though the Act is in force in the entire state, the Army has been gradually withdrawn from some districts as the situation improved. In these districts, the Army has been replaced with central paramilitary organisations (CPO). At the moment, the CPO districts in the state are Jorhat, Majuli, Kamrup (Metro), Karimganj, Hailkandi and Lakhimpur where the Army has no operational role to play. Apart from the state, the Act is in force in Nagaland, Manipur (except the Imphal municipal area), Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts of Arunachal, a 20-km belt in Meghalaya bordering Assam and J&K. The Act, which was also imposed in Punjab during its troubled days, was withdrawn fully in 1997. The Act, which was imposed in Tripura in 1997, was withdrawn in 2015.



Another Western Railway train overshoots Malad



MUMBAI: Yet another platform overshooting has been reported at Malad. The motorman of a Churchgate-Borivli local, scheduled to halt at Malad at 7pm, Thursday, failed to apply brakes at the right moment. As a result three coaches overshot the platform, before the train stopped. Since two such incidents have been reported in quick succession on Western Railway , commuters are a bit disturbed. On Friday, a Borivli-Churchgate slow local halted one and a half coaches ahead of the platform at Grant Road. The incident occurred around 1.35pm, resulting in a delay of 5 minutes–crucial in the suburban schedule. The motormen and guards of both trains have been suspended. Explaining the incidents, a motorman said that running rooms at Virar and Bhayander used for deployment of train crew are in a bad shape. “They are supposed to be air-conditioned so that train crew can relax before starting duty,” he said. But a WR official said crew get adequate rest, enough to recharge for their type of work.



After robberies, J&K Bank asked to stop dealing in cash



SRINAGAR: In the wake of frequent bank robberies by terrorists in south Kashmir, the Mehbooba Mufti government issued an advisory on Friday to J&K Bank to immediately stop cash transactions in at least 40 branches across Pulwama and Shopian districts of south Kashmir. The J&K government advisory declared the 40 branches vulnerable to robbery. “These branches will not be shifted and will function normally. However, a customer can neither deposit nor withdraw cash. In a way, these bank branches will be cashless and will do business in receipt form only. A customer can deposit cheques and transfer money,” a J&K Bank official said on Friday. There were reports about shifting ATMs in south Kashmir to safer places but the bank refuted these reports. Six bank robberies have taken place in south Kashmir this year. Seven persons -five policemen and two bank security guards -were killed on May 1, 2017, when terrorists attacked the bank’s cash delivery van at Pombai village in Kulgam.



TOI sounds alarm on honking



New Delhi: The busy ITO stretch in Delhi, known for traffic snarls, registers an average of 74 decibels (dB) of sound each day, highest in the city. It is about 10 decibels over the permissible limit for commercial areas. A study reported by TOI earlier had showed Mumbai emerging as the noisiest city in the country, followed by Lucknow and Hyderabad. Delhi ranked fourth on the list. Environmentalists believe things will only get worse in the capital if people don’t pay heed, and the price to pay will be very high. Ahead of TOI’s No-Honking Drive on August 22, sensitization campaigns have begun in the city. One was held by NGO Manas Foundation for auto rickshaw drivers at the Driver Training Institute in Burari this week. It began with a lecture on road safety and culminated with pamplets and stickers being distributed among the auto drivers.

They were told about the ill-effects of noise pollution on human behaviour and health. Hypertension, high stress levels, hearing loss and sleep disturbances are some of the major health issues related to noise pollution. Studies show commuters may end up having a 20dB hearing loss in urban cities due to constantly being subjected to loud noise. Similar drives will be conducted in a week-long campaign from August 15 to August 22 with the cooperation of Delhi Traffic Police. This will include distribution of no-honking stickers and workshops for drivers across the city. Children and volunteers will display placards and slogans in the city to create awareness about the menace of honking. They will also hand over roses to road users. Close to a hundred schools are expected to be involved in this drive. RWAs are being encouraged to reduce noise on stretches close to residential colonies.

“Constant honking or being exposed to high-intensity horns have a harmful effect on ear vacuums and need to be checked. There should be an agency to monitor the decibel levels of horns for different vehicles and stricter laws should apply to offenders. Only then will things change,” said Pramod Pandey of Manas Foundation. He added that workers at petrol pumps had been supporting the drive by putting stickers on cars to educate them about the harm that constant honking can cause. Delhi Police will be assisting during the campaign with strict monitoring and challans to be enforced, especially in silence zones which often see honking rules violated. Busy stretches like the ITO and Delhi Gate crossings and the Barakhamba Road-Tolstoy Marg stretch are some of the places identified by Delhi Police which will see the presence of both volunteers and traffic officials. “Incessant honking throughout the day leads to sleep disturbance and stress. RTOs are now seizing vehicles which have been modified to produce high-decibel noise,” said Satminder Singh, inspector, RTO Burari.



Now, buy milk online through KMF’s eDairy



BENGALURU: Now citizens can buy their daily stock of milk and dairy products from Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF’s) eDairy portal. KMF kick started its eDairy portal on Friday. You can now get your Nandini milk products by choosing from the online store and paying online or through cash on delivery mode and the milk will be delivered at your doorstep at a convenient time. However, KMF officials said that the delivery time is between 9 am and 12 pm and 4 pm and 8 pm daily. The minimum order has to be of Rs 250. “But we will soon remove the minimum order value after the transportation is made viable based on the number of orders we get through eDairy. There are 20 stock points around Bengaluru and our delivery boys will deliver to places up to four km around these stock points. Citizens will get an SMS about the time of delivery from our end,” said officials. e-Dairy portal has provision to order KMF ‘Nandini’ Milk products in bulk as well. The corporates for their canteens, celebrations or gifting purposes can conveniently order their requirements online and schedule the delivery at their door steps. e-Dairy portal can be accessed from any Android device. There is a toll free helpline for your use and a call center facility. You can directly access the portal through the social media like; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.



Hyderabad: Pseudo cops arrested by Cyberabad police



HYDERABAD: Chandanagar police busted a three member pseudo police gang for extorting money from people by posing as cops. The accused are, Sridhar, Srinivas Reddy and Vamsi Krishna Reddy from Ameenpur, RC Puram and Patancheru areas. Two days ago, the trio intercepted the bike of a private employee at near RS Brothers showroom in Gangaram. “Posing as police, the accused threatened the victim by calling him as an offender in a property crime and forcibly took Rs 4000 from him,” Miyapur ACP S Ravi Kumar said. Based on the complaint lodged by the victim, Chandanagar police arrested the trio near BHEL on Friday. They will be produced before the court on Saturday for judicial remand.



Now, traffic police’s phone cameras will also shoot for e-challans

The photograph of the alleged traffic offence as shown in the challan


AHMEDABAD: It is not only the stationary cameras installed at crossroads that will identify traffic offenders but also traffic policemen’s cellphone cameras that will send images required for generating e-challan. The project, launched from this week by the city traffic police, is primarily targeted at traffic offences on interior roads and also at illegal parking. Sudhir Desai, DCP (traffic), said that more than 1,500 phones of traffic policemen have been equipped with a special software for the purpose. “The trial runs have been successful and we have started generating e-challans on the basis of the photographs clicked by police personnel and officers,” he said. Desai further said that that the software has a date and time stamp which will be applied to each image clicked. “It will also have geo-tagging of the location through GPS as evidence for the offender,” he said. Officials of the city’s traffic police said that currently an average of 2,500 e-challans are generated daily by 226 high-definition CCTV cameras installed at over 200 city crossroads. The plan to cover 130 more crossroads under City Surveillance and Intelligent Traffic Monitoring System (CSITMS) project and Smart City project, has already been approved. Senior officials said that this will expand the reach of the digital challan system and make tracking of offenders more transparent and contact-less. The officials said that the goal is to generate 1 lakh e-challans daily.



WHEN TRAFFIC COPS GET IT WRONG: Vafiuddin Saiyed, a resident of Royal Park Society in Sarkhej, was surprised when he got an e-challan on Thursday for not wearing a helmet. A stickler for the helmet rule, he got another surprise when he came to know that the place of offence was Naroda Patia. “I work with a bank on Ashram Road and go from home to office and then back,” he said. “It must be years since I last visited Naroda. However, what was most surprising was that photograph accompanying the challan had no photograph of my bike (a Bullet) which is also mentioned as my vehicle at the time of the offence,” Saiyed said. The photograph shows a bike which, according to Saiyed, is not his bike and the rider is seen wearing a helmet. Saiyed said that he will not pay the Rs 100 fine till he gets an explanation from the traffic branch about the gaffe. “Camera-based traffic management is good but the officials should also apply common sense. Such mistakes raise question about the efficiency of the system,” Saiyed said. This is not the first such instance of mistakes by the traffic police. Sources said that on an average about 10 to 15 persons claim that they had been wrongly issued a challan. A woman on a scooter had recently got a challan for not wearing the seat belt, the sources said.

DELIVERY SYSTEM NEEDED: The city has 403 major traffic junctions out of which about half are covered by cameras. At the moment, only the Income Tax Crossroads is the only no-tolerance zone where the smallest of traffic offences — crossing the stop line or jumping the signal a few seconds before the green light — are also recorded and e-challans sent. Traffic branch officials want to increase the number of such junctions with a better surveillance system. But there are a number of roadblocks to this plan, the main one being the delivery system for e-challans. The new system more than doubles the number of functional cameras that can be used to detect and record traffic offences. Experts say it will also require a matching efficient delivery system to succeed.



International News



Clashes erupt on Pakistan-Afghan border, 8 killed



QUETTA: Clashes erupted between Pakistani and Afghan troops on Friday along their disputed border killing several people, officials said, in another blow to already tense relations between the neighbours. At least eight civilians were killed, according to officials — seven on the Pakistani side, and one on the Afghan side — and dozens wounded before the fighting near the Chaman border crossing subsided late Friday afternoon, officials said. Pakistan’s foreign ministry summoned Afghanistan’s charge d’affaires in Islamabad to protest, calling the firing “unprovoked” and saying several people died, without specifying numbers. Pakistan’s military said the clashes broke out in a remote village near the border town of Chaman as a Pakistani census team, guarded by troops from its Frontier Corps (FC), was collecting population figures. It said at least one person was killed. “Afghan border police opens fire on FC detailed for security of population census team,” said Pakistan military’s media wing, adding that 18 people were wounded. “Exchange of fire continues. Chaman crossing closed”. The Chaman crossing into Afghanistan’s Kandahar province is one of two main crossing points on the border.

Zia Durani, police spokesman for Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, said Pakistani officials were using the census as a cover for “malicious activities and to provoke villagers against the government”. “They did not heed the warning and we have clear orders to engage them,” Durani said, adding two Afghan border police were wounded. Relations between the countries have been uneasy since Pakistan’s independence in 1947. Afghanistan has traditionally enjoyed better ties with Pakistan’s arch rival, India. Afghanistan has for years accused Pakistan of sheltering Afghan Taliban militants on its soil. Pakistan officially denies that even though various Taliban leaders have over the years been killed, died and detained in Pakistan. Tension has been increasing in recent months amid new exchanges of accusations of not doing enough to tackle militants engaging in cross-border raids. Pakistan’s military said Afghan border police had been “creating hurdles” since April 30 for the census team in the Chaman area. “This was done despite the fact that Afghan authorities had been informed well in advance and coordination was carried out through diplomatic and military channels for conduct of the census,” the military said. Last year, Pakistan started building a barrier at the main border crossing in the town of Torkham, near the Khyber Pass, angering Afghanistan which rejects the colonial-era Durand Line border drawn up in 1893. Afghanistan has never formally recognized the line as the border.



Boko Haram attack in Chad kills nine troops, 40 jihadists



N’DJAMENA: Nine Chadian soldiers were killed in a Boko Haram attack on an army post in the Lake Chad region on Friday, local and security sources told AFP. Some 40 Boko Haram jihadists were also killed as the army responded to the attack on the Kaiga post, sources said on condition of anonymity. A military official confirmed the attack without giving a toll.



Infighting near Damascus kills 169: Monitor

A Syrian man inspect a hospital, damaged following an air strike a rebel-controlled town in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.


BEIRUT: A week of infighting killed nearly 169 people in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region Ghouta region outside Syria‘s capital Damascus before calm returned on Friday, a monitor said. The clashes erupted on April 28 between the powerful Army of Islam faction and the former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, along with ally Faylaq al-Rahman. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the area was calm Friday but also reported “a continued state of alert on both sides in the areas under their control”. The monitor said 156 fighters had been killed in the clashes, 67 from the Army of Islam and the rest from Fateh al-Sham and allied forces. The fighting also killed 13 civilians, including two children, and wounded dozens, the monitor said. The end of the fighting was confirmed by the Army of Islam, which said in a statement it had ended its operation against Fateh al-Sham after having achieved “most of its goals”.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the “situation has returned to how it was before,” adding that “each side has taken back the areas it lost during the fighting”. He said Fateh al-Sham had been weakened by the fighting, and had leaned heavily on Faylaq al-Sham for support during the clashes. Fateh al-Sham, previously known as Al-Nusra Front, has a contentious relationship with some rebel groups, but many others have allied with it against the regime, despite its jihadist ideology. The clashes are not the first time infighting has erupted in Eastern Ghouta, with around 500 rebels dying in weeks of battles that erupted in April 2016 between the Army of Islam and Fateh al-Sham. The region is also regularly targeted by Syria’s government. More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the country’s multi-layered conflict erupted with anti-government protests in March 2011.

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