A T E S T N E W S
38 killed in Iranian plane crash
TEHRAN: An Iranian passenger plane crashed today moments after takeoff from Tehran, killing at least 38 on board and narrowly avoiding many more deaths when it plummeted near a busy market.
The plane was headed to the eastern city of Tabas, the IRNA and Fars news agencies said, when it crashed at 9.18 am local time, after leaving Mehrabad airport.
It triggered a fireball when it smashed into the Capital's Azadi neighbourhood, close to where hundreds of military families live, and only a few hundred metres (yards) from a row of shops.
Iran's Deputy Transport Minister, Ahmad Majidi, said the Antonov An-140 turboprop plane had 40 passengers, including six children, and eight crew on board, and he put the death toll at 38.
A fire official initially said all on board had been killed, but Fars later reported that 37 bodies were sent to the morgue and IRNA said nine people were hospitalised, two of them critically injured.
The aircraft was operated by Sepahan Airlines and a tailfin bearing the company's dolphin logo could be seen sticking out of the road as security forces cordoned off the crash site, where firefighters had doused the flames.
Black smoke billowed from the mass of burnt out twisted metal, with officials saying the plane hit a wall and trees.
"The scene was terrible, with the back of the plane in the middle of the street," one eyewitness said.
"But we were lucky because there was a market 500 metres away and a lot of people were there." Another eyewitness told state television: "I was on my motorbike and I heard something behind me. I turned round and it was a plane, so I got on to the ground because it was so close.
"With other people, we ran to try and save the passengers but there were two or three loud explosions and a huge fire."
Mehrabad airport is near central Tehran and it is by far the country's busiest domestic hub, serving routes to all major Iranian cities.
Most international passenger flights take off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport, which is located further west of the
Man returning from Guinea under observation for Ebola virus
CHENNAI: A 26-year-old man, who had returned from an African country, is under observation at a government hospital here for "screening and observation" for Ebola virus, hospital authorities said.
The man from Theni district in the state had arrived from Guinea late last night and referred to Rajiv Gandhi Government hospital for "screening and observation", Dr
Raghunandan of the hospital told reporters.
Without divulging details about the man, the doctor said the man was, however, healthy and such a screening and observation was being done in lines with Central government directive that persons from West African countries affected by Ebola outbreak and entering the country be screened for the deadly virus.
All relevant tests will be conducted, Raghunandan said, adding, there was no cause for concern.
Pak targets LoC posts
again; 2nd ceasefire violation in 37
JAMMU: In a second ceasefire violation in just 37 hours, Pakistani troops fired at Indian forward posts along the
Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, prompting Indian forces to retaliate.
"Pakistani troops targeted Indian posts by resorting to unprovoked firing from small arms and automatic weapons in
Mendhar sector in Poonch district of Jammu & Kashmir at 11:30 hours today," Defence Spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta
The Indian troops guarding the border with Pakistan took positions and fired back with equal calibre weapons,
resulting in intermittent exchange of fire, he said.
"There was no loss of life or damage to property in the firing on this side of LoC," Lt Col Mehta said, adding "the
firing exchange continued till the time last reports came in".
Sundays firing by Pakistani troops is third instance of violation of the ceasefire this month, and second after the
handing over of the captured jawan to BSF by Pakistan
Rangers on Octerio BoP along Indo-Pak border in Jammu district's R S Pura sector on Friday.
On August 8, barely six hours after handing over captured 30-year-old BSF jawan Satya Sheel Yadav, Pakistani troops
violated the ceasefire by targeting Indian forward posts with small arms and automatic weapons along the Line of
Control in Bhimbher Gali (BG) sector of Poonch district.
On August 5, Pakistani troops targeted Indian forward posts with small arms and automatic weapons along the Line of
Control in Sher Shakti forward belt of Poonch district.
At the flag meeting between Battalion Commandants of BSF and Pak rangers at Octerio BoP in R S Pura sector, BSF and
Pakistan Rangers had on Friday made a commitment to uphold peace and tranquillity on the border and extend all
cooperation to each other in dealing with emergent incidents in a proactive and positive manner.
General Officer Commanding of Nagrota-based 16 Corps, Lieutenant General K H Singh had recently said that the
Indian Army has been directed to give a befitting reply to Pakistani troops over ceasefire violations, firing and
infiltration attempts from across the border.
Eight ceasefire violations by Pakistan were witnessed in July. In June, it violated the ceasefire five times along
the LoC and IB in Jammu region. There were 19 incidents of ceasefire violation along the LoC in April-May.
PM likely to visit Siachen Glacier
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit the Siachen Glacier on August 12 during his visit to Leh district of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.
His predecessor Manmohan Singh had visited the world's highest battlefield in 2005 and expressed his wish to convert the area into a mountain of peace.
The Prime Minister is expected to visit the Siachen Glacier on Tuesday during his visit to Kargil and Leh districts of Ladakh where he has to inaugurate power projects, Army sources said.
Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag will also be present during the visit with the Prime Minister, they said.
The Prime Minister is expected to interact with the troops deployed there.
Around 3,000 soldiers have been deployed on the glacier where sub-zero temperatures drop to even minus 60 degrees in winters.
Majority of the posts are located at over 16,000 feet and the highest of them is the Bana post at around 22,000 feet.
Since 1984, India has lost more than 860 lives and majority of them have been due to climatic conditions and challenging terrain of the 76 km long glacier.
Pakistan has been talking about demilitarising the Glacier as it is in disadvantageous position there and has even refused to authenticate the ground positions.
The Army Chiefs over the years have frequently voiced their opposition to demilitarising the area, terming it as a strategic location.
SGPC to write to PM over attack on Sikhs in
CHANDIGARH: Terming the recent attacks on some Sikhs in the US as "unfortunate", SGPC on Sunday said it will write to the Prime Minister, urging the Centre to take up the matter with America and other foreign countries to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
"These attacks on the Sikhs, said to be hate crimes, are very unfortunate and we condemn them strongly," Avtar Singh Makkar, President of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex religious body of the Sikhs, said today.
He said SGPC will soon write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to take up the issue with the United States and other foreign countries to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
Days after a Sikh man was hit and dragged by a truck in New York following an argument between him and the driver who allegedly hurled racist slur at him on August 5, another Sikh man and his mother were attacked in the city on August 7 by a group of teenagers in an apparent hate crime, sparking an outrage among the community members.
"The Centre should strongly take up the matter with US government in the larger interest of the Sikhs living in the country," Makkar said.
"Such attacks have happened in the past as well.
According to media reports, in this recent attack on the mother-son duo in New York, the attackers had used derogatory language against the man's mother
and made fun of her hair, which needs strong condemnation," he said.
Makkar said the US government should curb such attacks on innocent Sikhs with an iron fist and severely punish those found guilty.
Gmail, Yahoo make phone number mandatory for new email
NEW DELHI: World's most popular free email providers Gmail and Yahoo have made telephone number mandatory for creation of new
email addresses in a bid to check spam.
Any person wishing to create a new email ID needs to provide a telephone number which Gmail and Yahoo use for verification.
Google India spokesperson claimed giving phone number was optional but repeated attempts to create a new email address on
Gmail by skipping the mobile number requirement failed.
The Gmail website said that move to seek phone number is to check spam email senders.
"In an effort to protect our users from abuse, we sometimes ask users to prove they're not a robot before they're able to
create or sign in to accounts. Having this additional confirmation via phone is an effective way to keep spammers from
abusing our systems," the website said.
Google has also limited number of accounts that a person using one telephone number can create but the website did not
specify the maximum number of email account it will allow.
While for Gmail a person can give either telephone or mobile number, for a new Yahoo it is now mandatory to have a mobile
"At Yahoo, we are committed to the security of our users.
We ask our users to provide their mobile number at registration as a secondary means of authentication, in addition to their
password. We would only use the number if we see any unusual activity on the account," Yahoo spokesperson said.
Internet Service Providers Association of India said that there is no regulatory requirement for making telephone number
mandatory for having an email address and condemned the move as such practice could expose privacy of an individual.
"This is an attack on user's privacy. This should not happen. If they (Gmail and Yahoo) are doing such a thing, then this
must be recognised by Indian government on how they are collecting phone numbers," ISPAI President Rajesh Chharia said.
Internet companies have been advocating at global level that there should be no kind of restriction on use of Internet and if
there are any regulations on Internet, then the cost associated with compliance of those regulations should be such that it should not check proliferation of Internet usage.
Though number of telecom subscriber is over 90 crore in India, a survey conducted by research firm Juxt in 2013 showed there
were only about 55.48 crore people in the country who actually owned a mobile device.
Dhoni chides top-order batsmen for poor show
MANCHESTER: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni blasted his top-order batsmen for their spineless show after India slumped to a
humiliating innings and 54-run defeat against England in the fourth Test.
The loss was set up on the opening day itself, when electing to bat in overcast conditions India were reduced to eight for
four and were eventually bowled out for 152.
"It is important to put runs on the board. The number 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 batsmen have masked the top-order so far in this
series," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference as the match ended inside three days on Saturday.
"The win at Lord's also help camouflaged the poor form of the top-order and we couldn't question them that they are not
scoring any runs. Our fifth bowler has scored more runs than our top-order batsmen," a livid Dhoni said.
While man-of-the-match Stuart Broad (6/25) was the tormentor in the first innings, it was England off-spinner Moeen Ali
(4-39), who broke India's back in the second innings. Dhoni was all praise for the English bowling.
"On this wicket, England bowled very well. The first hour of the match was very crucial. The batting department has to
improve and the top five to six batsmen have to get more runs.
This defeat will hurt us," he said The Indian batsmen didn't fare any better in the second innings as they were bowled out
for 161 runs, this time in better batting conditions.
Getting behind a lead of 215 runs with more than two days to bat out, the Indian batting fell like a pack of cards in the
final session of the third day's play.
"We don't know what was going to happen tomorrow or day after. The important thing was to play out the day today," said Dhoni
commenting on the weather forecast.
The skipper said it was time that Indian batsmen start batting responsibly and convert the good starts into big ones.
"Most of the batsmen have played cricket for a long time and have enough experience to know the match conditions. So they can
see that they have to play out sessions accordingly.
Sixty overs is a very big target, you can only plan ahead for 3-4 overs at the maximum. That is your target and that's the
spell bowlers go through as well.
"Most of the batsmen have gone through good spells, they have got starts and they are able to see off the most difficult
phase. But they haven't been able to convert those starts. They need to start converting those starts," he said.
Moeen Ali was again the wrecker-in-chief for India. With 19 wickets so far in the four matches, he has now turned out to be
the most successful spinner in the series, just two away from leading wicket-taker James Anderson (21).
"It is important to be positive against a spinner like him," said Dhoni, defending his side's aggressive intent against the
"He is quite a consistent bowler and he uses the drift well. We have to put pressure on him and if we do that then the fast
bowlers have to bowl more. That was the strategy against him. Pujara had a tough decision but the others got good balls."
Dhoni however, was quick to praise his bowling attack, especially Ravichandran Ashwin, who not only bowled but batted well in
the game as well -- Ashwin (46) was the last man standing when India surrendered.
"Ashwin has shown time and again that he can bat. And he can score runs at any position. We had to play two spinners because
if we survive in the match till day four or five, then both Jadeja and Aswhin can exert pressure on the batsmen. Then two
spinners come into play," he said.
"This wicket had a bit of juice in it and the bowlers bowled very well. I was able to bowl both Ashwin and Jadeja, and give
them some rest, so they were fresh when they came on to bowl. And they bowled well on this pitch as it shows that whenever
there is something in the pitch, our bowlers are able to take wickets and get the opposition out.
"In the last Test we were not able to do that, but here with a helpful pitch we were able to take wickets and that was
something positive," he added.
But again the whole thing comes down to how poorly India batted in this match, not allowing their bowlers a sniff in the
"The first innings is very important especially outside the sub-continent. In the last two Tests we have slipped up in the
first innings, particularly here. It is difficult to come back from a position like that. We need to review how we play in
the first innings and how we apply going forward from here.
We need to make sure that we make the first two hours of the next match count properly," Dhoni signed off.
3 teenagers loot Rs 32 lakh from Nadaun bank
HAMIRPUR: Three teenagers in the age group of 12-15 years allegedly looted Rs 32 lakh in a robbery
on Saturday at a bank branch in Nadaun, 40-km from Hamirpur, police said.
According to police, the robbery, which took place at a State Bank of India branch, was captured on CCTV camera and the
footage suggests that the miscreants were all youngsters.
The money which was looted was meant to be placed in the branch's ATM but, before that could be done, the miscreants snatched
the bag containing the money and fled the spot.
The Hamirpur SP said that efforts are being made to identify the culprits through the CCTV footage.
A case under Sections 454 and 380 of IPC has been lodged against unknown miscreants and a massive manhunt has been launched
to nab the trio, he added.
Anil Kumar Verma, the branch manager, confirmed that the bag contained Rs 32 lakh.
Station house officer of Nadaun police station, Jasbir Kumar, said that the identity of the boys was being ascertained
through the CCTV footage. PTI
Bharat Ratna for
NEW DELHI: Speculation is rife that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose may be named for the country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna.
The speculation has been fuelled by the Home Ministry placing an order for five Bharat Ratna medallions.
BJP leaders have in the past demanded Bharat Ratna be awarded to Vajpayee.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is heading the BJP-led government now, would take call on this and probably would announced it in his Independence Day speech.
Among others whose names are being speculated is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
A senior Home Ministry official said that four days back the government mint had been asked to make for five medallions of the Bharat Ratna.
"But ordering five medallions does not mean that five persons will be bestowed with Bharat Ratna. This is to keep adequate number of medallions in reserve," he said.
Besides, the government's rule for Bharat Ratna is clear that the number of annual awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.
The recommendation for Bharat Ratna is made by the Prime Minister himself to the President. No formal recommendation for this is necessary.
Amarnath Yatra ends peacefully
SRINAGAR: The one-and-half month long annual Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir ended peacefully on Sunday, officials said.
Nearly 400,000 pilgrims visited the shrine.
The final 'puja' was offered inside the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Sunday morning after the 'Chahri Mubarak' (Lord
Shiva's mace) reached the shrine.
The Chahri Mubarak was carried by its custodian Swami Dipinder Giri in a procession of sadhus and other devotees from its
seat here to the shrine.
"The final puja has been performed on Sunday...with this, the year's pilgrimage to the shrine has come to an end," Giri told
"We will hold another puja by the banks of the Lidder stream in Pahalgam town where the sadhus will be fed after which the
Chahri Mubarak will be taken back to its seat in Srinagar," Giri added.
Governor NN Vohra, who is the chairman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), also visited the shrine. SASB manages the
affairs of the yatra.
Officials said around 400,000 yatris from all over the country visited Amarnath.
Barring a scuffle between a community kitchen cook and a local that triggered burning of 10 community kitchens and over 300
tents at the Baltal base camp, the yatra was free of any militancy related incident, officials added.
The yatra started June 28 from the Baltal and June 30 from the Pahalgam base camps.