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Thane building collapse: 2 developers arrested

THANE: Two developers involved in construction of an illegal building, Shil Phata, which collapsed in Thane district on Thursday claiming 72 lives, were arrested on Saturday.

"Builders Jamil Qureshi and Salim Shaikh were arrested from their hideouts today," Thane Police Commissioner KP Raghuvanshi told PTI.

Qureshi was nabbed from Uttar Pradesh, while Shaikh was apprehended from Thane, he said.

The police had registered a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the builders, who were on the run since the incident.

Earlier, rescue operations were called off at the Shil Phata building collapse site on Saturday afternoon.

“Rescue operations have been called off. The death toll at present stands at 72 while 62 people have been pulled out alive,” Thane Joint Commissioner of Police Vipin Kumar told reporters at the scene of the tragedy, the worst of its kind in Maharashtra.

According to the Regional Disaster Management Control (RDMC) sources, those dead include 22 women and 17 children.

Of the 60 injured, 36 have been admitted to hospitals in Thane, Kalwa and Mumbra. The seriously injured have been shifted to J.J. and Sion Hospitals in Mumbai.

Kumar said now an adjoining multi-storey structure, also constructed by the same builder illegally, was in the process of being pulled down.

R.A. Rajeev, Thane Municipal Commissioner, had on Friday gone on record to say that 90 per cent of buildings in Mumbra area where Shil Phata, the scene of Thursday’s tragedy is located, are illegal.

Alok Awasthi, Commandant of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), which was rushed from Pune soon after the collapse, too confirmed that rescue efforts had been abandoned as there was no likelihood of presence of any bodies or survivors.

“We have explored the area eight feet underneath the plinth and we are reasonably sure that there is nobody there,” Awasthi, who led his team of 90 men who painstakingly rescued 62 people from the massive wreckage, said.

Describing the operation as “complicated,” Awasthi said because it was a “sandwich collapse”, with floor lying over floor, it was a daunting task to remove debris from each storey to look for survivors.

“We had to proceed very slowly as any mis-step would have pushed up the death toll,” he said.

The government had on Friday suspended Thane Deputy Municipal Commissioner Deepak Chavan and Shil-Daighar Senior Police Inspector K P Naik for dereliction of duty and for allegedly colluding with the builders.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has also announced a probe by an Additional Chief Secretary-level officer. — PTI







British woman found murdered in Srinagar, Dutch held

SRINAGAR: A British tourist was found murdered on a houseboat in Srinagar on Saturday. The police has detained a Dutch national suspected to have committed the murder, the Kashmir police chief said.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Abdul Ghani Mir said: "A 24-year-old British national was found murdered in a local houseboat this morning. A Dutch national, De-wit Richard, has been detained for investigations in this connection".

Asked whether the victim had been raped before the murder, the police chief said: "While preliminary investigation has confirmed that the 24-year-old woman was murdered, we are investigating other angles. Forensic evidence is being collected."

The Dutch national was living in the same houseboat, in a room adjacent to the victim's room. The door of her room was found smashed by the police.

"The Dutch national had fled from the houseboat in the night, leaving behind his belongings. He was trying to flee from the Valley, carrying only his passport. We flashed an alert for his arrest," the police chief said, revealing that the man was held at Qazigund of south Kashmirs' Anantnag district. — IANS







Champions Trophy: Sehwag, Harbhajan omitted
from probables list

NEW DELHI: India's selectors on Saturday left out dashing batsman Virender Sehwag from a 30-man preliminary squad for the Champions Trophy in England in June.

Seasoned off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and veteran seamer Zaheer Khan were also missing from the list, which has to be shortened to 15 players a month before the one-day tournament opens on June 5.

Sehwag's 219 against the West Indies in December 2011 is the highest individual score in one-day internationals and he is only the second batsman to score a double-century in the shorter format after compatriot Sachin Tendulkar.

But he was dropped due to recent poor form.

The 34-year-old, who has scored 8,273 runs in 251 ODIs with 15 centuries, was also been left out of the last two Tests in the recent series against Australia, which India won 4-0.

Harbhajan, 32, last played an ODI two years ago in the West Indies, while Zaheer, 34, missed the entire Australian series due to a calf injury.

Uncapped off-spinner Parvez Rasool, 24, was included in the squad, making him the first cricketer from Jammu and Kashmir to join the senior ranks.

India are drawn with South Africa, Pakistan and the West Indies in group B of the Champions Trophy, from which the top two will qualify for the semi-finals.

The other group comprises England, Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

India's 30-man preliminary squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Unmukt Chand, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Wriddhiman Saha, Dinesh Karthik, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja, Jalaj Saxena, Parvez Rasool, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Umesh Yadav, Shami Ahmed, Irfan Pathan, Vinay Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Ishwar Pandey, Sidharth Kaul. — AFP








Vijender not to be considered for 2 upcoming
events: Boxing federation

NEW DELHI: Beijing Olympics hero boxer Vijender Singh, who finds himself at the centre of a drug scandal, will not be considered for selection for two upcoming international events for missing the trials.

The beleaguered boxer, who has been accused by the Punjab Police of consuming heroin, missed the two-day boxing trials in Patiala and will not be selected in the squad for the events in Cyprus and Cuba which serve as build-up events for the World Championships at Almaty, Kazakhstan in October.

The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) said that it may not be possible for Vijender to take part in events without attending trials as it was important to assess his fitness.

The IABF is currently banned by the international boxing body and Indian boxers can take part in international events under the AIBA flag. Indian officials are also not allowed to accompany the team.

The IABF hoped that Vijender would come out clean from the drug controversy surrounding him and resume his boxing career.

"Vijender is not out of the team, but he will not participate in the tournaments in Cyprus and Cuba. For the time being we will not consider him," IABF President Abhishek Matoria said.

"He is an Olympic hero. It is up to him to decide which events he wants to take part. At the moment, his training has taken a blow because of the drug controversy," he said.

"I have been in constant touch with Vijender and he has assured me that he is not involved in the drug scandal. He has told me that he will come out clean from the enquiry," added Matoria.

Matoria said Vijender is an important part of Indian boxing and the federation will wait for him to return to the ring.

"At the moment, Vijender is under severe pressure. He is hopeful of being given a clean chit in the next 10 days or so. And then he will get back to boxing. Vijender is very much an important part of Indian boxing fraternity," he said.

The name of Vijender, who won the middleweight bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, cropped up in the scandal when Fatehgarh Sahib Police exposed a drug haul case and took his sparring partner Ram Singh, later on dismissed by the Punjab Police, in custody for interrogation.

Ram allegedly told the investigators that he and Vijender consumed heroin supplied by NRI narcotics dealer Anoop Singh Kahlon many times.

Vijender has been denying the allegations of the police who had claimed that they had evidence to prove that the star boxer had taken heroin on 12 occasions.

On the Sports Ministry's directive, the NADA had also taken urine and blood samples from the boxer but it is unlikely that the tests will be specifically for heroin. — PTI







Martyr Hemraj's wife duped of Rs 10 lakh

MATHURA: The wife of martyr Lance Naik Hemraj was duped of Rs. 10 lakh in the presence of her brother-in-law and a relative near a petrol pump in the outskirts of Kosi town area, police said.

In her complaint, Dharmvati, the widow of Hemraj, said one Amit Kumar, who claimed that he was an army officer and sent by the Army Headquarters, approached her at Shernagar village in the morning on Friday.

According to the complaint, Amit advised Dharmvati to keep the relief packages provided to her in different banks. On his advise, she agreed to withdraw Rs. 20 lakh from SBI, Chhatta branch.

Accompanied by brother-in-law Bhagwan Singh, uncle Gajendra Singh and Amit, Dharmvati reached the bank.

" Rs. 20 lakh were withdrawn from the bank, out of which a fixed deposit of Rs. 10 lakh was made in the same branch in favour of my daughter Shivani, whereas we planned to deposit the remaining Rs. 10 lakh in a bank in nearby Bukharari village," she told police.

Dharmvati claimed that she rode pillion on Amit's motorcycle, whereas her brother-in-law and uncle were on an another motorcycle.

In the complaint, she mentioned that Rs. 10 lakh were kept in Amit's bag. Thereafter, all four proceeded towards Bukharari village.

"Amit stopped his motorcycle at a petrol pump near Sonu Monu Dhaba at the outskirt of Kosi town, pretending that he had to take petrol for his bike," she said.

As Dharmvati alighted from the motorcycle, Amit fled with the bag, the complaint alleged.

"The SOG has been asked to work out the case, the CCTV footage of the bank is being examined to arrest the alleged youth," Senior Superintendent of Police Pradeep Yadav said.

"Though Dharmvati was asked to inform the police about any major financial transaction she makes in the bank for the safety of amount, she did not do so," the SSP said.

On March 25, an attempt to fraudulently withdraw Rs. 60 lakh, of the relief amount given to her, was made at a bank in Palwal district of Haryana.

Hemraj was killed and beheaded by Pakistani troops near the Line of Control in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir on January 8. — PTI








25 Indian fishermen arrested in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO: At least 25 Indian fishermen have been arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly poaching in the country's waters.

Naval spokesman Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya said that the fishermen were arrested last night off the coast of Karainagar in the northern Jaffma penisula for
violating Sri Lanka's international maritime boundary.

Their six trawlers were also seized. They were handed over to the police in the islet of Kayts for further action, the Navy added.

Fishermen from both countries often stray into each other's territory as both countries are divided by a small strip of sea.

In March, Sri Lankan Navy arrested 53 Indian fishermen arrested.

On March 15, 34 of them were released after India summoned Sri Lanka's Deputy High Commissioner and lodged a strong protest over the arrest of the fishermen. — PTI




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