Bandit Killed In Failed Attempt To Abduct Indian In Kaduna

A file photo of a gun seized from crime suspects in Nigeria.

 

Security Operatives in Kaduna State have killed a bandit in a failed attempt to abduct an Indian.

The bandit, along with his cohorts, had attempted to kidnap the foreigner working with a private company in Igabi Local Government Area of the state.

Mr Mohammed Jalige, the Police Public Relations Officer in Kaduna, confirmed this on Tuesday.

He explained that the bandits laid an ambush for the foreigner on Monday with an intention to kidnap him while he was driving to Plan Farm Phase at the Dankande area in Igabi.

Rather than getting caught up in the web, Jalige noted that some police officers ran into the ambush laid by the bandits.

He added that the armed men who were desperate to kidnap the foreigner open fire on the security operatives, but they were met with stiffer resistance from the policemen.

The command’s spokesman stated that the police operatives successfully repelled the bandits through their superior firepower and secured the foreigner unhurt.

According to him, the bandits fled into the forest with bullet wounds, and the lifeless body of one of them was recovered.

Jalige revealed that a joint team of the police and military personnel, while on a search of the area on Tuesday, also recovered four AK-47 rifles loaded with 120 rounds of live ammunition.

He said the remains of the bandit has been deposited at a morgue while forensic analysis of a phone also recovered was ongoing with the view to getting more details about the gang, their activities, and their location for a possible raid of their camps.

UK Govt Defends Handling Of Indian Virus Variant

Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock gives a media interview as he leaves the BBC in central London on May 16, 2021, after appearing on the BBC political programme The Andrew Marr Show.

 

 

The British government on Sunday pushed back against criticism it was too slow to impose travel restrictions on India as a coronavirus variant identified in the subcontinent spreads in the UK.

England and the devolved nations of Scotland and Wales will unlock parts of their economy on Monday but the future roadmap for reopening has been put in doubt over the more transmissible variant.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News it was “completely wrong” to suggest the UK could have acted faster to designate India as a “red list” country meaning arriving travellers would have to quarantine in hotels.

He explained that India was placed under strict travel restrictions in April before the variant, known as B1.617.2, was under investigation.

The British government has come under criticism from opposition politicians over its decision to put Pakistan and Bangladesh on its red list before India.

Hancock rebuffed the suggestion the decision was influenced by a planned trip by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April to assist in post-Brexit trade talks.

“We take these decisions based on the evidence,” he said over the visit which was eventually scrapped because of surging COVID cases in India.

Indoor hospitality and indoor entertainment such as cinemas, museums, and sports venues are to open their doors in most parts of the UK for the first time in months on Monday.

People and families will also be able to meet with some restrictions in private houses under the new measures.

Hancock said the reopening could go ahead despite the presence of 1,300 cases of the Indian variant in the UK because of the country’s successful vaccination campaign and close monitoring of cases.

However, he sounded a note of caution over plans to completely lift restrictions on June 21.

“We’re in a race between the vaccination programme. And the virus and this new variant has given the virus some extra legs in that race, but we have a high degree of confidence that the vaccine will overcome,” the health secretary said.

The government’s former chief scientific Adviser told Sky News the UK now found itself in a “perilous movement”.

“We have a variant that shows good evidence of being more transmissible and possibly significantly more transmissible. We’re going to have to watch the numbers extremely closely,” he added.

WHO Welcomes Indian Electronic Cigarette Ban

In this file photo taken on October 2, 2018, a man exhales smoke from an electronic cigarette in Washington, DC./AFP

 

The World Health Organization congratulated India on Thursday for its ban on electronic cigarettes, the latest evidence of a global backlash against a technology touted as safer than regular smoking.

In a tweet, the UN body’s South-East Asia office said that India was the sixth country in the region to ban e-cigarettes after North Korea, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and East Timor.

Singapore has also outlawed e-cigarettes.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a prominent opponent of smoking, also congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “recognizing this epidemic and putting the health of your citizens first”.

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Citing health concerns, the Indian government announced on Wednesday a ban on the production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution and storage of e-cigarettes.

It came a day after New York became the second US state to outlaw flavoured e-cigarettes, and a week after President Donald Trump said his administration was considering a ban.

E-cigarettes heat up a liquid, flavoured with anything from bourbon to bubble gum and usually containing nicotine, into vapour — hence “vaping” — which is inhaled.

The technology has been pushed by producers, and also by some governments including in Europe as a safer alternative to tobacco — and as a way to kick the habit.

The vapour is missing the estimated 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke but does contain a number of substances that could potentially be harmful.

Critics say that apart from being potentially harmful in themselves, savvy marketing and the flavours available have turned millions of children into vapers — and into potential future smokers.

The sale of tobacco remains legal in India, prompting accusations that Modi’s main aim is to protect India’s domestic industry, on which some 45 million people depend for their livelihood.

India is also the world’s third-largest producer of tobacco and exports around a billion dollars worth of the produce annually, with the government holding stakes in several tobacco firms, including ITC.

India is also the world’s second-largest consumer of traditional tobacco products, although chewing — which still causes cancer — is much more common than smoking, killing nearly 900,000 people a year, according to the WHO.

Helicopters Rescue Passengers On Stranded Indian Train

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescue stranded passengers of the Mahalaxmi Express train following flooding after heavy monsoon rains in Badlapur, some 70 kms from Mumbai./AFP

 

Indian navy helicopters and emergency service boats came to the rescue of about 700 people stuck on a train caught in floods near Mumbai on Saturday.

The Mahalaxmi Express left Mumbai late Friday for Kolhapur but got only 60 kilometres (37 miles) before it became stranded as torrential rain flooded the tracks.

Authorities called in the Indian navy and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to use helicopters and boats. An NDRF spokesman said 500 people had been rescued in about two hours.

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The disaster response service also set up a camp near the stranded train.

An Indian Railways spokesperson told the Press Trest of India news agency that a “special relief train” would be laid on to take the passengers to their destinations.

Heavy monsoon rains battered Mumbai forcing the cancellation of 11 flights from the financial capital’s international airport on Saturday while nine incoming flights were diverted to other airports.

More than 250 people have died in flooding across India in the past two weeks, with Assam and Bihar states the worst hit.

Indian Toxic Alcohol Death Toll Rises To 143

Indian flag

 

At least 45 more workers have died in northeastern India after drinking toxic liquor, police said Sunday, taking the death toll from the latest mass alcohol poisoning beyond 143.

The deaths in Assam state came less than two weeks after tainted liquor killed around 100 people in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

At least 200 others were still hospitalised across Assam.

“A total of 85 people have died in Golaghat district due to consumption (of toxic alcohol),” Dhiren Hazarika, deputy commissioner of the worst affected region, told AFP.

“Another 100 are undergoing treatment in the district. The rush of new patients has (only) slowed down today afternoon,” he added.

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Roshni Korati, the deputy commissioner of the neighbouring Jorhat district, told AFP that the death toll in the district had reached 58.

At least 160 people were undergoing treatment at local hospitals and “16 of them are critical”, Korati added.

Police said people started falling sick after consuming a batch of illegally produced liquor late Thursday.

The victims, who include many women, worked at local tea estates in the region.

Doctors said those rushed to hospital in a critical condition were suffering from severe vomiting, extreme chest pain and breathlessness.

“A total of ten people have been arrested. We have sent the samples of the liquor… to a forensic laboratory. The report is awaited,” Mukesh Agarwala, additional director general of state police, told AFP on Sunday.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ordered an inquiry into the deaths.

Apart from the arrests, two excise department officials were suspended for failing to take adequate precautions over the sale of the alcohol.

Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma vowed those responsible for the tainted liquor would be brought to justice.

 Methanol 

Hundreds of mainly poor people die each year in India from tainted liquor, which normally costs just a few US cents a bottle.

Cheap, locally made booze is common in rural parts and bootleggers often add methanol — a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an antifreeze — to their product to increase its strength.

If ingested in large quantities, methanol can cause blindness, liver damage and death.

Many drinkers in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand were taken to hospital earlier this month in writhing pain after drinking illicit alcohol.

About 100 people died after consuming the tainted moonshine.

In 2015, more than 100 people died in a Mumbai slum after drinking illegal liquor.

Of the estimated five billion litres of alcohol drunk every year in India, around 40 percent is illegally produced, according to the International Spirits and Wine Association of India.

Many Indian states have implemented or pushed for prohibition, which, according to critics, further increases the unsupervised manufacture and sale of alcohol.

Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, banned alcohol in 2016. But just months after prohibition took effect, 16 people died after consuming toxic liquor.

The entire staff of a local police station in the eastern state were suspended for “dereliction of duty” and failure to stop bootlegging.

AFP

#WorldToiletDay: Indian Launches New Machine To End Death Of Manual Scavengers

Indian workers scrub a sewer cleaning machine on a truck before its unveiling during an event to celebrate World Toilet Day in New Delhi on November 19, 2018. The event was organized by Indian sanitation charity Sulabh International for World Toilet Day. Money SHARMA / AFP

Hundreds of “manual scavengers” die each year cleaning out sewers in cities across India but a machine unveiled for today’s World Toilet Day could help to end that tragic record.

Thousands of mostly low-caste Indians are employed in one of the world’s dirtiest jobs unclogging human waste from underground pipes.

More than 1,300 have died, mainly suffocated, in the past three years, according to the Sulabh International charity.

The men are called “manual scavengers” because they mainly scrape the waste with their bare hands without any protective gear or masks.

The machine launched by Sulabh injects high-pressure water into the tunnels and tanks and then collects the waste with a mechanical bucket operated from ground level.

A remote control inspection camera generates high-resolution images of the sewer system.

Bindeshwar Pathak, the Sulabh International founder, said that forcing humans into the sewers was “demeaning”.

“We hear so often the tragic news about sewer workers losing their lives,” he said.

“This machine can safely clean the waste matter and it will gradually make manual scavenging redundant.

“With this machine, we hope no person will die in the sewers anymore.”

Indian lawmakers have passed several laws aiming to stamp out the age-old practice of manual scavenging, the latest in 2013. But many scavengers are still used through subcontractors.

In rural areas, women “scavengers” clean out primitive non-flush toilets with basic tools, although the practice is now on the wane.

Pathak also unveiled a giant Indian-style toilet pot to raise awareness about sanitation in a country where some 150 million people do not have home toilets.

AFP

11 Killed As Cyclone Gaja Ravages Indian Coast

Indian residents clear away fallen trees near the train station in Nagapattinam in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state on November 16, 2018, after a cyclone struck the region.  AFP

 

At least 11 people were reported dead on Friday as a powerful cyclone battered India’s eastern coast, authorities said.

Thousands of trees were felled by winds that destroyed homes and vehicles as hundreds of thousands fled to shelter homes.

Cyclone Gaja packed winds of up to 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour as it barrelled into Tamil Nadu state after hitting the coast near Nagapattinam early Friday bringing heavy rains, India’s weather office said.

The ruling party in the prosperous state said on Twitter that 11 people were killed in the powerful storm that has flooded several low-lying areas along the coastline on the Bay of Bengal.

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party provided no further details about the victims.

The government has announced compensation of one million rupees ($14,000) to victims’ families as hundreds of emergency workers were trying to restore roads and electricity.

The storm was predicted to move westwards and gradually weaken before heading into the Arabian Sea, the India Meteorological Department said.

Torrential rain caused waterlogging and threatened landslides. There were widespread power outages in the region.

Authorities closed schools and colleges and thousands of emergency workers were on standby along with two naval ships with divers, helicopters and inflatable boats.

Authorities had warned fishermen since Sunday not to risk going out to sea.

Gaja is the second major storm to hit India’s east coast in recent weeks. Cyclone Titli battered Odisha state in October, killing at least two people.

Storms regularly hit southern India between April and December. Last year, Cyclone Ockhi left nearly 250 people dead in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

AFP

At Least 50 Killed In Indian Train Disaster

Indian train carrying passengers (file picture) Credit: NARINDER NANU / AFP

 

At least 50 are dead after a train ploughed into revellers gathered to watch a Hindu festival in India’s northern Punjab state on Friday, police said.

“There are more than 50 casualties. The priority now is to take the injured to the hospital,” Amritsar city police commissioner S. S. Srivastava told reporters.

AFP

Sri Lanka To Ban Animal Sacrifices

(FILE) Animal sacrifices at Hindu temples could be banned in Sri Lanka under new plans announced September 12, after growing protests over the rituals from the country’s Buddhist majority as well as moderate Hindus. LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP

 

 

 

Animal sacrifices at Hindu temples could be banned in Sri Lanka under new plans announced Wednesday, after growing protests over the rituals from the country’s Buddhist majority as well as moderate Hindus.

The cabinet approved a proposal put forward by the Hindu Religious Affairs minister to outlaw the ancient practice that is still observed at several temples across the country.

“The legal draughtsman was asked to prepare a bill to ban animal and bird sacrifices at Hindu temples,” the government said in a statement.

During religious festivals, some devout Hindus sacrifice goats, chickens, and buffalos, expecting good fortune in return.

But the practice has offended animal rights activists, as well as many other Sri Lankans.

Although there is currently no clear law prohibiting animal sacrifices at places of worship, Sri Lankan courts from time to time have issued temporary bans on such practices.

Hindus constitute about 12 percent of Sri Lanka’s 21 million population, which is mainly Buddhist.

Muslims, the third largest religious group in the country, also conduct ritualistic animal sacrifices — although it appears the law would apply only to Hindus.

The country has experienced waves of religious tension in recent years, with anti-Muslim riots in March leaving three people dead and hundreds of mosques, homes, and businesses reduced to ashes.

AFP

Gunmen Kill Indian Police Officers, Free Militants In Hospital Raid

Indian villagers and relatives mourns as they gather around the coffin of killed Indian army soldier Havaldar Roshan Lal at Nichla village, in Samba district, about 45km from Jammu, on February 5, 2018. PHOTO: Rakesh BAKSHI / AFP

Two gunmen opened fire on Tuesday in a hospital in India-administered Kashmir where a Pakistani militant was brought for treatment, escaping with the high-profile prisoner and killing two police officers.

A manhunt is underway after the attackers stormed the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar and opened fire on police guarding Naveed Jutt, a Pakistani rebel imprisoned in the restive province since 2014.

One officer died at the scene while another later succumbed to his injuries in hospital, deputy inspector general of police Ghulam Hassan Bhat told AFP.

The trio escaped on a motorcycle and were still at large. Police have set up roadblocks and fanned out in search teams across Srinagar, the capital of Indian Kashmir.

Abhinandan, 16, carries the coffin of his father Havaldar Roshan Lal along with Indian army personnel and villagers in Nichla village in Samba district, about 45 km from Jammu, on February 5, 2018. PHOTO: Rakesh BAKSHI / AFP

Jutt was second in command of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group at the time of his arrest.

The Pakistan-based group is active in Indian Kashmir, regularly staging armed assaults on the roughly half a million Indian soldiers deployed in the divided Himalayan territory.

India accuses Pakistan of arming, training and deploying militant groups, including LeT, to foment unrest in the part of Kashmir controlled by New Delhi, where many support the rebel cause.

Islamabad denies the allegations, saying it only provides diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination.

Pakistan and India both control parts of Kashmir but claim the whole of the territory and have fought two of their three wars over it since independence in 1947.

LeT has been blamed for a string of deadly attacks inside India, most notably the Mumbai carnage in November 2008 that left more than 160 people dead on the streets of the financial capital.

AFP

Bomb Blast Kills Four Police In Indian Kashmir

Four policemen were killed Saturday in a bomb blast set off by suspected Islamist militants in Indian Kashmir, police and reports said, marking a deadly start to the new year in the restive valley.

They were on patrol when the improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in Sopore, some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the main city of Srinagar.

“IED blast in Sopore. Four policemen martyred,” Jammu and Kashmir police said on Twitter.

The bomb was planted by militants near a shop amid a strike called by separatists, the Press Trust of India and other local media said.

The latest incident comes during a spike in violence in the disputed region which is claimed in full by India and Pakistan.

Last week four Indian soldiers were killed in an attack by armed militants who stormed a paramilitary camp outside Srinagar.

Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan at the end of British colonial rule over the subcontinent in 1947.

Since 1989, rebel groups have been fighting roughly half a million Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, seeking independence for the former Himalayan kingdom or its merger with neighbouring Pakistan.

The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead.

Last year 206 suspected militants, 57 civilians and 78 Indian security forces personnel were killed, making it the deadliest year in a decade.

New Delhi accuses Pakistan of sending militants across the disputed border in Kashmir to launch attacks on Indian forces.

Islamabad denies the allegations, saying it ony provides moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri struggle for the right to self-determination.

AFP

Three Indian Soldiers Killed In Kashmir Border Firing

India’s President, Ram Nath

Three Indian soldiers were killed in Kashmir along the unofficial border with Pakistan Saturday, Indian police said, in the latest skirmish between the bitter rivals in the disputed Himalayan territory.

The soldiers were killed in the Rajouri sector of Indian-administered Kashmir after Pakistani troops started firing across the border, said Shesh Paul Vaid, the director general of police in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Initial reports say three soldiers were killed during (a) BAT operation,” Vaid told AFP, referring to the “Border Action Teams” that Indian officials say are made up of Pakistani troops and militants and carry out cross-border attacks.

Vaid added that an officer was among the dead, and another soldier was injured.

There was no immediate response from Pakistani authorities to the incident.

New Delhi and Islamabad regularly accuse each other of firing across the heavily-militarised de facto border in Kashmir, called the Line of Control.

Kashmir has been divided between the Pakistan and India since the end of British colonial rule over the subcontinent in 1947. Both sides claim the territory in full.

Firing across the Line of Control has killed and wounded dozens of soldiers and civilians on both sides in recent years.

Indian officials accuse Pakistan of conducting such operations to help anti-India militants to sneak across the border to carry out attacks on Indian forces.

Pakistan denies the allegations, saying it only provides diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination.

Separatist rebels in Indian-administered Kashmir have been waging an insurgency since 1989, with roughly half a million Indian soldiers deployed in the region. The rebels want either complete independence for Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan.

This year has been the bloodiest in a decade for Kashmir, after the Indian military launched a large-scale operation and killed at least 210 alleged rebels, most of them local residents.

The violence was sparked by the killing of a popular young rebel leader by government forces in July last year.

The unrest, including the cross-border firing, also killed 78 Indian security forces and 57 civilians in Indian-administered Kashmir, according to officials and rights groups.

AFP