News Flash – 8 November 2017

National News



IndiGo staff manhandle passenger, airline apologizes


NEW DELHI: In a shocker, IndiGo ground staff manhandled and dragged a passenger at Delhi Airport on October 15 after a tiff. An airline employee who acted as a whistleblower, tried to intervene and shot a video of this violence and was sacked by the airline. This drama unfolded on October 15 when 6E 487 flew into Delhi from Chennai. After alighting from the Airbus A-320, a passenger Rajiv Katiyal got into an argument with some ground staffers over some issue and he allegedly abused them. What sparked this argument has not be ascertained yet. Two to three IndiGo ground staffers stopped Katiyal from boarding the bus which was taking passengers to the terminal. They then manhandled him and dragged him on the tarmac for over a minute. An IndiGo employee, Montu Kalra, who was at the site tried to intervene and shot a video of his colleagues manhandling the passenger. Instead of acting against the employees who thrashed passenger Katiyal, IndiGo sacked Kalra whose wife is pregnant and who needs the job desperately for his growing family. On Tuesday when Kalra’s video became public and was aired by Times Group’s Times Now, Aviation minister Jayant spoke to IndiGo founder Rahul Bhatia and sought a detailed report on this issue. He said once the passenger lodges a criminal complaint (FIR) against the IndiGo employees who beat him up, they will lose their security clearance for airport passes and not be able to go there for their job. Effectively, the guilty employees of IndiGo will not be able to work in the aviation industry, Sinha said. Sanjay Bhatia, IGI Airport DCP, confirmed receiving a PCR call regarding the tiff between the passenger and IndiGo employees on October 15. “Passenger Rajeev Katiyal, who had flown in from Chennai, was waiting for coach bus.


There was altercation between IndiGo staffer Jubi Thomas and the passenger due to a misunderstanding. The matter was amicably sorted out and call was filed”. IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh said in a statement: “I acknowledge the unpleasant experience our passenger went through, while engaging with our staff at Delhi airport. My personal apologies as this does not reflect our culture. I had personally spoken to the passenger and asked for an apology. At IndiGo, dignity of our passengers and staff is of utmost importance. Any act that compromises the dignity of either is of a serious concern to us. Under the code of conduct violation, this incident was investigated and stern action was taken against the staff. Once again my personal and sincere apologies to the affected passenger”. The airline later added to this statement, saying: “Treating our customers with respect is core to what we do. Every day we take tens of thousands of happy customers to where they need to get to. It is for this reason that customers choose IndiGo more number of times than any other airline in the country. An incident happened in Delhi airport which is entirely the opposite of this and against what we stand for at IndiGo. The video of this incident came to our attention and we took action. Even while the investigation was going on we immediately suspended the involved employees. I personally spoke to the customer and apologized to him the very same day. Whatever may have been the provocation, our staff were completely out of line and didn’t follow laid down procedures…. Under the code of conduct violation, this incident was investigated by the designated committee and stern action was taken against the staff who was the main culprit by immediately terminating his employment. He was the one found instigating and aggravating the situation. He is the exact opposite of what IndiGo’s customer service aims to be”.



Now, bomb threat notes on Del-Kol GoAir flight



KOLKATA: In a virtual repeat of the October 30 Jet Airways incident in which a passenger left a note in the washroom saying there were hijackers on board, the crew of a GoAir Delhi-Kolkata flight discovered a note that claimed there was a bomb on board. The pilot alerted the air traffic control at Kolkata, which arranged for its priority landing. The plane was guided to a remote bay after landing where checks were carried out. The passengers were allowed to leave after the bomb threat assessment committee ruled it a hoax. The GoAir flight from Delhi to Kolkata would not have taken off had the haze that had disrupted flight schedules all of Tuesday not cleared. It took off around 7.25pm with 173 passengers and eight crew members. It was around 150 nautical miles from Kolkata when an ATC officer received the pilot’s radio call. The ATC alerted senior airport officials and security agencies. The flight landed at 9.35pm and was guided to a remote bay where the passengers disembarked. Sources said a crew member had found a handwritten note at the rear deck beyond the washrooms. She immediately informed the pilot who radioed the ATC at 9.05 pm. Unlike the October 30 incident in which Ahmedabad police detained a passenger after reviewing on-board CCTV footage, no such evidence was found against any passenger on Tuesday. All passengers were allowed to proceed to their destination. “The threat was a hoax,” an airport official said.



11 steps Delhi must take to tackle pollution


  1. Closure of brick kilns, hot-mix plants.
  2. Shutdown all stone crushers.
  3. More buses on road.
  4. Greater frequency of metro, lower fares in off-peak hours.
  5. Fines on road-constructing agencies over lack of dust control.
  6. Intensified mechanised road sweeping and sprinkling of water.
  7. Continuation of ban on use of generator sets in Delhi, with exceptions only as defined by DPCC for essential services.
  8. Immediate enhancement of parking fee by 4 times and depositing additional funds in dedicated parking fund with municipalities
  9. Immediate stop on use of coal and firewood in hotels and eateries; implement SC order on pet coke and furnace oil.
  10. Intensify traffic management at all hotspots.
  11. Intensify enforcement of non-destined goods traffic into Delhi by physically checking all vehicles and turning them back.



Fire breaks out in a godown near Howrah Bridge


Kolkata: A fire broke out on Tuesday evening in a godown on Armenian Ghat off Strand Road containing combustible chemicals and diesel, triggering a series of explosions that kept feeding the flames and made it difficult for the firemen to douse the blaze. The fire broke out at 7pm in a godown on Kolkata Port Trust land close to Howrah Bridge. Twenty fire tenders struggled for over four hours to bring the leaping flames under control. Nobody was injured or got stuck in the fire. As a preventive measure firemen started spraying water in shanties located close to the point of fire to restrict the blaze. “The fire kept raging despite our efforts to bring the flames under control which shows the amount of combustible materials that was stored inside. There were multiple explosions and every time that happened the intensity of the fire increased,’ said a senior fire department official.


The fire broke out much after the office hour traffic cleared up but the leaping flames triggered panic among vehicles and pedestrians walking towards Howrah Bridge. Many of them stopped on their way and clicked pictures of the raging blaze. The firemen said the godown lacked firefighting preparedness which aided the blaze in spiraling out of control. “Even though the premises were used to stock materials hazardous in nature there were no fire alarms and water sprinklers inside,” said a fireman. The entire length of the road that runs parallel to the Hooghly is lined with godown, many of which are located on land owned by the KPT. In 2010, a century-old warehouse at Strand Road was gutted in a major fire. The warehouse, one of the many old colonial buildings on the banks of the Ganga, was used as a warehouse for inflammable articles like kerosene, gas cylinders, tyres, tubes, cotton bales and paint, added the official.



Rain death toll goes up to 14 in Chennai


CHENNAI: The death toll from the northeast monsoon in the city has gone up to 14, with police reporting two more rain-related casualties since Sunday evening. A seven-year-old boy studying in Class III at a private school near Pallavaram died after he slipped into a pit filled with rainwater on Sunday evening. Police identified the deceased as Raj Madhan, 7, a resident of Narikurava Colony in Cantonment area near Pallavaram. Police said the boy went to relieve himself and stepped near the pit to wash when he slipped into it. In another incident, an 18-year-old Class XII student died after he went to take a dip in the Krishna Canal near Thirumullaivoyal on Sunday. The teenager was identified as K Akash, a resident of Gandhi Street in Thirumullaivoyal. Akash and his friends jumped into the canal filled with rainwater gushing towards Puzhal Lake. His friends returned to the banks of the canal but Akash went missing. His body was later recovered from Puzhal Lake on Monday, police said. Two more people were electrocuted in the city in 24 hours. At the Koyambedu flower market, a 54year-old sanitary worker was electrocuted while cleaning a public toilet on Monday morning. Police said G Manjula touched a live wire. In another fatal accident, a 54year-old electrician was electrocuted while doing repair work at a house in Kodambakkam on Sunday. The deceased was identified as Rose of Alagiri Nagar in Vadapalani. The northeast monsoon set in on October 27.



International News



Multiple arrests in French raids over suspected attack plot

A French soldier patrols in front of the Eiffel Tower on Nov 1, 2017 in Paris, after France officially ended the state of emergency.



PARIS: A French security official says several people suspected of preparing a possible attack have been arrested in a counterterrorism operation in the Paris suburbs and in southeastern France. The official says that the arrests on Tuesday were prompted by suspicious activity on social networks that suggested an attack was in the works. The official, who was not authorized to be publicly named discussing security operations, would not provide further details. The operation is still underway in the Val-de-Marne region just southeast of Paris and in the Alpes-Maritimes region, which includes part of the French Riviera and the Alps. It comes days after a new counterterrorism law came into effect to replace a state of emergency that had been in place since deadly attacks in Paris two years ago.



NATO to boost Afghan mission by 3,000 troops



BRUSSELS: NATO will boost its training mission in Afghanistan by 3,000 troops, chief Jens Stoltenberg said today as Kabul reeled from the latest deadly attack on civilians. Around half the new troops will come from the United States, and the overall size of NATO’s training and support mission in the unrest-hit country will increase from 13,000 to 16,000, he said. Speaking a day before NATO defence ministers meet in Brussels, Stoltenberg said the alliance would boost its presence “to help the Afghans break the stalemate, to send a clear message to Taliban to the insurgents that they will not win on the battleground”. “There will be more troops. Current level is around 13,000, the new level will be around 16,000… so far indications are roughly half US, half non-US,” he added. But Stoltenberg insisted there would be no return to combat operations. “We are focusing on training the Afghan special operations forces, which have proven so key in the fight against the insurgents,” he said. The Taliban, ousted from power in a US-led invasion in 2001, have been resurgent since NATO ended combat operations in 2014, and the Islamic State group are also stepping up attacks. Gunmen disguised as policemen stormed Shamshad TV station in Kabul today, killing one person and wounding two dozen others in an attack claimed by IS.


Stoltenberg said there will also be more help to develop the Afghan air force. Over 16 years of war in Afghanistan, air strikes have proved a potent weapon against the Taliban. The decision to boost numbers will be formally approved by the NATO defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels tomorrow and on Thursday. US ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said last month that Washington would ask other alliance members to contribute around 1,000 more troops in Afghanistan. This was to add to the roughly 3,000 US troops who are already dispatched to train and advise the country’s security forces under US President Donald Trump’s new Afghan strategy. Trump announced his new policy on Afghanistan in August, reversing his previous position advocating US withdrawal after military leaders convinced him that pulling out of America’s longest war would be worse than remaining.



Pakistan diplomat shot dead in Afghanistan



KABUL: A Pakistani diplomatic official was shot dead in Afghanistan on Monday, officials said, but the motive for the deadly attack was not immediately clear. Two assailants riding a motorbike opened fire on Nayyar Iqbl Rana, 52, at a shop in the eastern city of Jalalabad, Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Zahid Nasrullah Khan said. “When he went to the hospital he was pronounced dead,” Khan said. No arrests have been made so far. Pakistan condemned the assault in a statement issued by its foreign ministry that called on Afghanistan to take “urgent steps to apprehend the perpetrators”. Rana was the assistant to the consul general in Jalalabad, the capital of restive Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan. The foreign ministry statement said Rana had finished “his three-year tenure in Jalalabad and was due to return to headquarters”. Khan said he had “absolutely no idea” why Rana, a father of five, was targeted. Despite escalating violence across Afghanistan, diplomats are rarely killed in the country where they are protected by very tight security. The incident comes a few months after two Pakistani diplomats working at the same consulate in Jalalabad were kidnapped and later freed.

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