Bihar Congress leader booked under POCSO

first_imgA Congress leader in Bihar has been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for allegedly molesting a minor Dalit girl and also running a sex racket. The girl happens to be the daughter of a two-time Congress MLA.The girl was still a minor on December 22 last year when she first lodged a complaint against automobile businessman Nikhil Priyadarshi, his brother Manish Priyadarshi and friend Sanjeet Kumar. Later, she also named the State vice-president of the Congress, Brajesh Pandey, for outraging her modesty at Nikhil Priyadarshi’s flat in Patna. Mr. Pandey had unsuccessfully contested the last Assembly elections from Govindganj constituency in East Champaran.last_img read more

HC acquits two of murder charge

first_imgThe Calcutta High Court on Thursday acquitted a man awarded capital punishment by a lower court and another sentenced to life imprisonment in connection with the murder of two women owing to lack of credible evidence against them. A Division Bench comprising Justices Ashim Kumar Roy and M. M. Banerjee set free Avik Ghosh and Somnath Tanti, who had been found guilty of murder by the Sessions Court in June, 2015. Ghosh had been awarded death sentence by the then Alipore Sessions Court for the murder of his wife Mousumi and housemaid Parulbala, while Tanti, a mason, was sentenced to life imprisonment.Found murdered Mousumi was found murdered at her residence on September 27, 2010, at Oxytown in the Thakurpukur police station area on the south-western outskirts of the metropolis. On a complaint by Mousumi’s father Ghosh, Tanti and three others were charged with murder. It was alleged that Ghosh had employed Tanti and the three others to commit the crime and to make it look like a case of dacoity. Three aquittedThe Alipore Sessions Court had in June, 2015 found Ghosh and Tanti guilty of murder, while acquitting the three other accused persons. Ghosh and Tanti moved appeals before the HC, claiming they were innocent and were framed. After hearing the petitioners and the prosecution, the Division Bench acquitted both the persons owing to lack of credible evidence against them.last_img read more

Girl living with monkeys rescued

first_imgAn eight-year-old girl found living with a troop of monkeys in the Katarniyaghat Wildlife Sanctuary is now undergoing treatment at a hospital here.After being spotted by locals in the Motipur range of the sanctuary, a police team managed to rescue her in January, but not before overcoming stiff resistance from the monkeys.ASP Dinesh Tripathi said it appeared from her behaviour that she had been living with the monkeys in the wild for a long time.She is unable to communicate and screams when people approach her. Chief Medical Superintendent D.K. Singh said this was hindering proper treatment. Her curious condition came into limelight after visuals went viral on the social media in the past couple of days, police said.“… Our priority now is to give her proper medical care and look for her parents”, the ASP said.last_img read more

Rawat meets troops on LoC, calls for vigilance

first_imgThe Chief of the Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat, on Tuesday visited the frontier areas in north Kashmir and interacted with commanders and troops deployed along the Line of Control.Gen. Rawat’s visit comes just a day after two soldiers were killed in a Pakistani ceasefire violation in the Krishna Ghati Sector of Poonch.The Army Chief called for “vigilance” on the LoC to thwart any misadventure from across the border, especially as the summer sets in. He was accompanied by the Northern Army and Chinar Corps Commanders.The Army Chief was briefed by formation commanders on the security situation on the border and measures instituted to strengthen the security posture, besides overall operational and logistical preparedness, a defence spokesman said.Suspected militants looted a bank in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Tuesday afternoon. A police official said a masked gunman barged into the Ellaquai Dehati Bank, Kader, and decamped with ₹65,000.A bank employee said the militants were carrying pistol. “The incident occurred when employees were busy in public dealings,” said the bank official. A major combing operation was launched in the area.The incident comes just a day after five policemen and two bank employees were killed by militants in Kulgan after attacking a bank van.Kulgam attack According to the police inquiry, the militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen was behind the Kulgam attack.“Militant Umar Majid, a resident of Souch, and two others had attacked the cash delivery vehicle of Jammu and Kashmir Bank at Kulgam’s Pumbai,” said the police.last_img read more

Sadabhau Khot floats new party

first_imgFollowing his ouster from the Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Paksha, Maharashtra Minister Sadabhau Khot on Thursday formally launched his own party, Rayat Kranti Sanghatana, in Kolhapur district. “The objective is not to trample on the rights of the toilers of the earth but to fight for their uplift,” Mr. Khot said. He claimed the word rayat was chosen to resonate with the humble tiller of agricultural land.After months of acrimony, Mr. Khot was formally expelled from the Swabhimani Paksha in August this year for allegedly tarnishing the party’s image. While he was expected to formally join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mr. Khot decided instead to float his own outfit. The same month, Mr. Shetti, an ally of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, withdrew his support.Speaking at Kolhapur’s Shahu Sanskrutik Bhavan, Mr. Khot, who is the Minister for Agriculture and Marketing in the Devendra Fadnavis-led Cabinet, took potshots at his friend-turned-foe, Mr. Shetti.Mr. Khot said, “I am a worker in my party, not a leader who imposes his views… I will till the land, sow the seed, but the cultivated land will belong to the rayat [people].”He said, “Some people could not bear to see me as a Cabinet Minister. Hence, I was forced to exit the party [Swabhimani Paksha], but I do not want to mention names. Henceforth, my work will speak for myself.”In June, their relations hit rock bottom after Mr. Khot returned a sum of money that Mr. Shetti had once lent to help his family. Mr. Khot’s supporters alleged that Mr. Shetti had failed to give to give their leader ‘moral support’. “In my party, the well-being of the farmer is paramount. In six months, we hope to swell our ranks with 5,000 supporters from all the State’s 353 talukas,” Mr. Khot said. Mr. Khot’s decision to float his party marks yet another splinter in the farmers’ movement in recent times. The first major break occurred when Mr. Shetti broke off from the Shetkari Sanghatna, which was founded by the late agrarian activist, Sharad Joshi, who had mentored him. Mr. Shetti then founded the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna whose political wing, the Swabhimani Paksha, was formed in 2004.last_img read more

Ex-Maharashtra CM Narayan Rane launches new party

first_imgFormer Maharashtra Chief Minister Narayan Rane, who had recently resigned from the Congress, on Sunday announced the launch of a new party called Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh.“I have just launched the party. I am waiting for some people to join, then I will decide the future course [of action],” the 65-year-old Konkan strongman said at a press conference here.Mr. Rane’s move comes after days of speculation that he may join the BJP. Last week, Mr. Rane had also met BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi.Mr. Rane had resigned from the Congress last month while accusing the party of reneging on the promise of making him the Chief Minister when he had joined the party 12 years ago after leaving the Shiv Sena.He had also resigned as a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council.A prominent leader from the influential Maratha community, Mr. Rane was the Chief Minister in 1999 while in the Shiv Sena.last_img read more

Now, sweet tweets for Swiss couple

first_imgThe tour of Fatehpur Sikri did not go as per plan for Quentin Jeremy Clerc and his partner Marie Droz. But the Uttar Pradesh police hope to mitigate some of the bitterness by gifting them a compilation of sympathetic messages from social media. Director-General of Police Sulkhan Singh on Friday released the 80-page booklet as a farewell gesture.Mr. Clerc and Ms. Droz had been attacked by some youths near a rail track at Fatehpur Sikri in Agra on October 22. The Swiss couple were first stalked and harassed before being brutally assaulted with stones and sticks. While Mr. Clerc suffered a fractured skull, Ms. Droz got a broken arm and many bruises. The incident triggered widespread outrage.After facing heavy criticism, the police invited people to send “get well soon” tweets to the couple with the hashtag GWSMarieandJeremy. Police spokesperson Rahul Srivastava said the police received 600-700 tweets in response. “We chose the better ones for the booklet,” he said. The tweets comprised get-well-soon messages, apologies, criticism of the system, and invitations to homes during their next visit.Among the tweets in the booklet, one read: “You both are God for us. Atithi Devo Bhav[a].” Another said: “Our country has great warmth and a few lumpen elements should not give a false image (sic).” “This shameful incident awaked our system…” said another.The police had planned to hand over the booklet to the couple. But they could not do so as they had already left for Switzerland. Mr. Srivastava told The Hindu that the Ministry of External Affairs assured him that a copy would be sent to them. A copy would also be gifted to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Senior Superintendent of Police, Agra, Amit Pathak and Mr. Srivastava gifted copies of the booklet to Tamara Mona, Deputy Head of Mission, Swiss Embassy, and MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar in Delhi.last_img read more

Ground Zero: The ‘suspected foreigners’ of Assam

first_imgBadal Das is paying for his illiteracy and a possible clerical error made five decades ago. He hails from Kinna Khal, a village of mostly Scheduled Caste Bengali Hindus located 500 metres east of the India-Bangladesh border. Since 2016, when the Foreigners Tribunal (FT) 4, one of 100 across Assam, in Silchar first summoned him, Das has spent more than ₹50,000 on policemen, lawyers and middlemen who had promised to settle his case quickly.Silchar, the headquarters of Cachar district in southern Assam’s Barak Valley, is 40 km from Kinna Khal. Despite all the ‘speed money’, the FT fixed the first hearing of his case only in March this year. But luck was not on his side. Two days before his scheduled hearing, lawyers in Silchar began a four-month boycott of the FT over a fee dispute. On June 6, Das was declared a foreigner.Villagers pooled funds to help Das, 53, who barely earns ₹4,000 a month selling fish, file a case against the declaration. FT4 has called him again on July 27. “All I want is two square meals a day for my family of three. I am not sure what will happen to me a few days from now. I have nowhere else to go,” he says.  The D-voter targetKinna Khal falls under the Katigorah police station, about 12 km away. Within the station complex is a weather-beaten cottage that houses the Border Police unit where sub-inspector A.H. Laskar heads a three-man team.Assam is the only State to have something like the Assam Police Border Organisation, or Border Police, dedicated to curbing illegal migration. Set up in June 1962, it was initially a wing of the police’s Special Branch, under the Prevention of Infiltration of Pakistanis Act, 1964. In 1974, it became an independent branch headed by an additional director general of police (ADGP).“Come after July 15 when the case is registered (in the FT),” Laskar tells Farman Ali and his wife Majlufah from Siddipur, on the outskirts of Katigorah. Their names are in the new list of 1,440 D-voters under the Katigorah police station. In Assam, a D-voter is a ‘doubtful voter’, disenfranchised by the government on account of his or her alleged lack of valid citizenship credentials.“My family of five are in the NRC first draft. We have no idea why our daughter [Majlufah] has been marked a D-voter,” says 72-year-old Haji Sofiullah of Teentikri village. He is convinced that the government machinery is targeting Bengali Muslims. As an example, he cites the case of Suleiman Ahmed in the adjoining district of Karimganj. FT4 in Karimganj had declared Ahmed an Indian in a 2017 case, but he has been declared a ‘foreigner’ in a new case.Laskar, one of the 3,153 retired soldiers drafted into the Border Police under a Central government scheme, says he feels the pain of the people who have been served notices. “But I have a job to do. I have to submit a report within three days of receiving instructions,” he says.The 1,440 D-voters are scattered among the 199 villages under the Katigorah police station, with the farthest being Natanpur, on the Bangladesh border 32 km away.“At least 500 D-voters are in Kinna Khal and adjoining villages. We are easy targets for a police force that has been given a monthly target to produce D-voters,” says Shanku Chandra, a businessman-activist who has taken up 50 cases of poor D-voters and declared ‘foreigners’ in his village.A senior Border Police officer admits that the district police chiefs are under pressure to deliver but claims there were no specific targets in terms of generating D-voter cases. “Call it pressure or over-enthusiasm, most people targeted as suspected foreigners turn out to be Indian citizens,” says Aminul Islam of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), a political party that has been helping the “victims of the system”.Islam says that the harassment of Bengali-speaking people — be it Hindus or Muslims — has increased ever since the Supreme Court in 2005 scrapped the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, 1983. As per this law, when it came to branding someone as a ‘foreigner’ or ‘illegal migrant’, the burden of proof was on the state. The Supreme Court brought back the British-era Foreigners Act of 1946, which shifted the burden of proof (that they are not foreigners) back on the individuals under suspicion.Non-Bengali Muslims too have carried the Bangladeshi tag. The Election Commission had allegedly, without investigation, marked Kismat Ali, 41, a D-voter in 2006, the year he cast his vote for the first time. He was served a notice, but when he failed to turn up for the hearing he was declared a ‘foreigner’ in an ex parte judgment. On August 12, 2015, he was sent to a detention camp in western Assam’s Goalpara, about 260 km from his home in Udalguri district. Kismat was freed on October 30, 2017, after having spent more than two years in Goalpara’s district jail, which doubles up as a detention centre for D-voters and declared foreigners. His freedom came only after he took his battle all the way to the Supreme Court.Ali’s father, Mukhtar, is originally from Uttar Pradesh’s Chhatia village. He had come to Assam in 1956 as a truck driver. But this information did not suffice for Ali’s older brother Yusuf, who has also been served a notice branding him a suspected foreigner. Sheikh Asghar, a 48-year-old carpenter from West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas, has a similar story. He was sent to the Goalpara detention camp in July 2017. His wife Shahnaz Begum, their 13-year-old son, and nephew Zishan have made up their minds to go back home as soon as he is released. “Uncle’s problem is that his father’s name is Sheikh Moral in some documents and Mohammed Jarif in some others. We don’t understand how we are ‘suspected foreigners’ when we have no property in Assam and don’t intend to stay here forever,” Zishan says.The system has also not spared some indigenous people, allegedly marked because of surnames common with Bengalis. One such is Anna Bala Roy, a Koch-Rajbongshi of Bongaigaon district, who was declared a ‘foreigner’ but was released after she submitted proof of her Indian citizenship. Her case came to the notice of the All Assam Students Union (AASU), which had spearheaded the anti-foreigners Assam Agitation from 1979 to 1985. “We will provide legal help to D-voters who can prove that they are Indian citizens by submitting any of the 14 documents accepted as valid,” AASU president Dipanka Nath says.The agitation, fuelled by the paranoia that the khilonjia (indigenous) would be overrun by Bangladeshis, ended with the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for detection, deletion (from voters’ list) and deportation of illegal immigrants. But it bred xenophobia and an ethnicity-based nationalism that presented the bohiragata (outsider/non-indigenous) as the root of all evil.  Victimised by clerical errorDas’ problems began soon after the Assam government launched the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The NRC was first prepared in 1951 using the particulars of everyone enumerated in the Census that year. Das used his father’s legacy data code, 310-4006-8764, to submit his papers. Specific to Assam, legacy data is an NRC applicant’s family link with names in official documents up to the 1971 voters’ list. But he ran into trouble because his father’s name read ‘Nokesh Chandra Das’ instead of ‘Nokesh Ram Das’ as was written in the refugee registration certificate of September 17, 1954. He had not realised that ‘Ram’ had become ‘Chandra’ in earlier voters’ lists when he enrolled as a voter in 1989 as ‘son of Nokesh Ram Das’.Also Read  Most of the nearly 10,000 residents of Kinna Khal and the adjoining Narapati Colony, Subodhnagar, Chandinagar Part 4, and Salimabad belong to the fishing community. These villages are in low-lying areas locally known as ‘haor’. They remain flooded for eight months a year, as the Surma river beyond the Bangladeshi border tends to overflow.None of the 3,500 people living in Kinna Khal made it to the first NRC draft list of 19 million names (32.9 million had applied) published on December 31, 2017. They fear that they may be excluded from the second and final draft too, which is scheduled to be published on July 30. But why such a fear?“Ours is a flood-prone area and many documents have been destroyed by water. They (the NRC Seva Kendra or the NSK) have found fault with every single document we have submitted, be it the refugee registration card, the voters’ ID or the ration card. It is as if they have already decided that we are foreigners. This is our reward for living so close to the border,” says Kamal Krishna Das, who retired as a school teacher 15 years ago. He is in trouble for using his mother’s legacy data, which apparently did not match his credentials.A clerical error has also made 36-year-old Rasendra Namashudra’s life difficult. His wife Lakhi Mandal’s voter ID not only has her name printed as ‘Lakri’ but states her husband’s name as Bajendra Mandal. In the case of Bamacharan Das, 53, who runs a small pharmacy in Kinna Khal, the error is even more baffling. “A few letters here and there are understandable. But a very special system must have changed my name to an alien-sounding ‘Lakakagap Banre N’ in the voter ID,” he says.The NRC cowsEvery family in Kinna Khal has spent ₹10,000-12,000 to get their names in the NRC. The expenses pertain to a range of bureaucratic hurdles, from submission of documents to the family tree verification process. Some like Sanchita, wife of trader Manmatha Das, have spent much more. Sanchita had to travel to an NSK in Dibrugarh, about 650 km away. Similarly, fisherman Nikunja Das had to travel to the Mayong NSK in central Assam’s Morigaon district, 350 km away, because a person not related to him had used his father’s legacy code.Among the first to travel beyond Barak Valley for family tree verification was Upen Das, 55, of Motinagar, a village near Silchar. The marginal farmer was summoned to an NSK in Hojai, 260 km away, a couple of months ago. “A man in Hojai was found to have used Upen’s legacy code fraudulently. But Upen was called at a very short notice. He sold his prized possession, a cow, cheaply to fund his trip to Hojai, where he hoped to prove that he belonged to the genuine family,” says Aurobinda Roy of the Silchar-based NGO, Unconditional Citizenship Demand Forum.At least 40 others who were summoned to NSKs outside the Barak Valley sold their cows at less than half the going rate of ₹35,000-40,000 in order to fund their trip. “Cattle sold off cheap in a hurry have come to be known as ‘NRC cows’. The exercise to weed foreigners out has thus devalued the otherwise revered cow,” Roy says.But the fishing villages of ‘haor’ have no cows to sell. A few have sold their only asset and means of livelihood, their boat, while others have been supplying fish free to the people from whom they have borrowed money. Villagers at a National Register of Citizens verification centre in Morigaon district of Assam.  Preparing for the worstZishan says he changed his lawyer when he discovered that the man had been fleecing his uncle. “The police and the lawyers make the most of the poor people’s ignorance. People are served notices arbitrarily and are made to run from pillar to post. If this is not harassment, how do you explain the fact that more than 90% of the cases involving D-voters and foreigners are dismissed?” says Kamal Chakraborty of Unconditional Citizenship Demand Committee.He cites the example of Geeta Namasudra, 65, of South Shingari village in Karimganj district. She was sent to a detention camp on August 2, 2015 even though she had the 1966 legacy data of her father. She was granted bail in 2017, but her family could not manage the two sureties of ₹20,000 each that were needed. Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, a local Congress MLA, has promised to get her out on bail.“The problem lies in the so-called investigation by the Election Commission and the Border Police. Its purpose is only to pander to the prejudices of the Assamese majority and the government, who believe that there are millions of Bangladeshis in Assam. Hence, if they don’t find Bangladeshis, they accuse Indian citizens of being Bangladeshis, grossly violating their citizenship rights and making a mockery of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution,” says Aman Wadud, who takes up cases of suspected foreigners pro bono.ADGP (Border) Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta denies that genuine citizens are being harassed. “Action is taken according to inputs gathered from various sources. But our force takes care that no genuine Indian citizens are harassed,” he says.NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela says there will be three categories of people after the final NRC draft is published: those with their names in the list, people put on hold due to doubts about their status, and the excluded. “But people will get an opportunity to prove their citizenship through claims and objections,” he says.The fear that genuine Indian citizens could get left out was sparked by Hajela’s submission before the Supreme Court on July 2, which stated that about 1.5 lakh people named in the first NRC draft would be left out of the final draft because of family tree test failure, suspicious certificates obtained by married women from gram panchayats, and data entry errors.“The NRC is a pre-planned exercise to exclude the names of non-Assamese, particularly the Bengalis of Barak Valley. We fear the creation of a stateless people, who will then be exploited, as India has no treaty with any other country for their deportation,” says Sadhan Purkayastha of Citizens’ Rights Protection Coordination Committee.“The Brahmaputra Valley has always viewed Barak Valley as a cancer, and the rift between the two has only widened over the NRC and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which, if passed, will grant citizenship to Bengali Hindus excluded by the NRC. So it is better to cut the cancer away and make Barak a separate State,” says Pradip Dutta Roy, founder-president of the All Cachar Karimganj Hailakandi Students Association. In May, he had written to Chief Justice Dipak Misra about a possible conflict of interest involving Justice Ranjan Gogoi, a “resident and voter in Assam” who “is monitoring the NRC process”.Others, though, give the benefit of doubt to the NRC machinery and see how things pan out. “There could be some problems with people who cannot prove their citizenship, but the government has laws to protect the rights of everyone, even those who have sought asylum for persecution in their countries,” says Cachar deputy commissioner S. Lakshmanan.The government is also aware of the cost on declared foreigners. It spends ₹13 lakh per month on 885 inmates — 265 Hindus and 618 Muslims — locked up in six detention camps.“The NRC will impact many lives, particularly poor, illiterate Bengali people who had citizenship documents but did not know their worth or could not preserve them. Our central leadership will find a way out,” says Amarchand Jain, Katigorah’s BJP legislator.The ‘haor’ residents, though, are angry with the Bharatiya Janata Party for ‘false promises’ that Bengali Hindus would be protected. “We voted for them for nothing. The Congress at least did not needle us,” says Shyamalkanti Deb, a teacher. There are nearly an equal number of Bengali Hindus and Muslims in the Barak Valley, comprising Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts.“The Muslims in Barak Valley are older settlers than the Hindus, many of whom came only during and after 1971. Many Muslims from here had actually gone over to what was then East Pakistan. The BJP’s pro-Hindu politics is behind the push for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. But for the Assamese nationalism that drives politics in the Brahmaputra Valley, Bengali Hindus and Muslims are the same — both are unwanted. That is why we are trying to set aside religious differences for a united stand against the disenfranchisement of Bengalis, which is what NRC is all about,” says Hilaluddin Laskar, a professor of philosophy in Hailakandi.Meanwhile, for people like Jitendra Deb, 60, a farmer in Kinna Khal, all that matters is his daily bread. “Our people came from barely a kilometre in that direction during Partition,” he says, pointing to the Sylhet district of Bangladesh 500 metres away. “They came here to escape conflict and persecution. We would rather die than be forced to go back there.” A paper trail that leads nowhere | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar. Suhagi Mandal spends sleepless nights in Morigaon district, Assam, as her family’s names are yet to appear in the National Register of Citizens (NRC).  | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar last_img read more

Haryana Congress wants MLA’s suspension revoked

first_imgCongress leaders, led by former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, on Friday approached the Governor, demanding revocation of the suspension of party MLA Karan Dalal from the State Assembly.The Speaker had suspended Mr. Dalal from the House for a period of one year during the recently concluded monsoon session after the ruling BJP and the Indian National Lok Dal both supported the motion for his suspension, for allegedly making a derogatory remark.”‘Unjust, arbitrary’ Terming the decision of suspending Mr. Dalal “unjust and arbitrary”, the Congress leaders in a memorandum to Haryana Governor Satyadev Narayan Arya said the decision was taken without giving Mr. Dalal an opportunity to explain his position.“This unfortunate episode has exposed the unethical understanding between the ruling party, the BJP, and the Opposition party, the INLD. We urged the Governor to advise the Speaker to rescind the order of suspension to save his constituent’s constitutional and democratic rights,” said Mr. Hooda.Mr. Hooda added that the party has requested the Governor to take serious note of the incidents of rising crimes, especially against women, and ask the State government to take effective steps to curb them.Petrol, diesel prices “Also, the prices of petrol and diesel are the highest ever. The common man is worst affected by the unprecedented hike. This has lead to inflation and increase in cost of production of crops. Several States like Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka have reduced VAT on petroleum products to give relief to the people. We requested the Governor to impress upon the State government to reduce VAT on fuel to provide relief to the people,” said Mr. Hooda.last_img read more

Incredible India campaign goofs up on Tawang Monastery

first_imgThe Incredible India campaign has goofed up on Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, suggesting the ancient structure was built just three decades ago.A tweet by @incredibleindia tagging Union Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons reads: “Cradled amidst the mist-laden valleys of the Himalayas is Tawang Monastery, India’s largest Buddhist monastery. It was built at the request of the 5th Dalai Lama in 1980-81.”Known in Tibetan as Gaden Namgyal Lhatse, the Tawang Monastery was indeed built according to the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso. But it was founded in 1680-81 by a monk named Merag Lodre Gyatso of the Gelug sect after the 4th Dalai Lama gave him a painting of goddess Palden Lhamo to be kept in the monastery. An eight-metre high gilded statue of Lord Buddha dominates the sanctum of the monastery.“It must be a case of typographical error. We will take up with the Centre for correcting the date of the 338-year-old monastery,” Kanto Danggen, director of Arunachal Pradesh’s Tourism Department, told The Hindu.Local legend has it that China had attacked Tawang in 1962 primarily to extract the secret to eternal youth believed to be buried under the monastery built at about 10,000 ft above sea level.An international tourism campaign by the government since 2002, Incredible India had erred a decade ago by passing off a black African rhino as the great Indian rhinoceros, the bulk of whose population is in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park. The rhinos in Assam are one-horned, unlike their African cousins that sport two horns.last_img read more

Rina Mitra appointed Bengal’s security adviser

first_imgRetired IPS officer Rina Mitra has been appointed as the Principal Adviser, Internal Security, of West Bengal. Ms. Mitra’s name featured in the media recently as a probable candidate to head the CBI on the basis of her seniority. Following her retirement on January 31, Ms. Mitra, a 1983-batch Madhya Pradesh-cadre IPS officer, claimed that in order to ensure that she does not get the top CBI post, despite having necessary qualifications, the Appointments Committee meeting was held a day after her retirement. Ms. Mitra, the first woman IPS officer of Bengal, said she was grateful to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for appointing her as the State’s security adviser.last_img read more

‘Ateeq assault case true’

first_imgThe Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that former MP Ateeq Ahmad, who was lodged in Deoria jail, had indeed assaulted and kidnapped a businessman on December 26 last year. Confirming the incident, the U.P. government said CCTV cameras in the jail complex were tampered with at the time. A Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna said it would consider the report submitted by State government on April 23. In the report the U.P. government said departmental action against five jail officials has been initiated.last_img read more

Swine Flu Connection Provides Clues About Narcolepsy

first_imgThe swine flu pandemic of late 2009 had a peculiar aftereffect in parts of Europe: a spike in children being diagnosed with narcolepsy, an incurable sleep disorder with symptoms including bouts of overwhelming daytime sleepiness. Researchers eventually linked a vaccine widely used to stave off the H1N1 flu virus to a small but increased risk of narcolepsy in children and teens. The vaccine, Pandemrix, used only in Europe, apparently triggered the disorder in roughly one out of 16,000 recipients in Finland. Sweden, Ireland, and England also found an increased risk, though not as dramatic as Finland’s.Now, scientists have a clue to why—one that points to a new understanding of narcolepsy itself, they report this week in Science Translational Medicine. They found that patients with the disease have immune cells that are spurred to attack by hypocretin, a hormone that regulates wakefulness. Scientists knew that the neurons that produce hypocretin are missing in narcoleptic brains, but why they disappear is a mystery. The work reveals “the fingerprints of an immune attack,” says neuroimmunologist Lawrence Steinman of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who was not involved in the research. It suggests that an autoimmune reaction, perhaps touched off by Pandemrix, could underlie the vaccine-linked cases. The researchers also speculate that flu itself might trigger other cases.When the association between Pandemrix and narcolepsy showed up, the vaccine’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline, funded research to investigate what, if anything, in the vaccine could trigger the disease. Narcolepsy researcher Emmanuel Mignot of Stanford University, who received one of the grants, already suspected that rogue immune cells might contribute to narcolepsy. In 2009, Mignot and colleagues had found that almost all narcolepsy patients have a particular human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type. HLA molecules present antigens—pieces of foreign proteins—to T cells, which then coordinate the immune system’s attack. The process helps the immune system distinguish between self and foreign cells, and certain HLA types are associated with autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. But there is no obvious sign of immune attack in narcoleptic brains.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In the new work, Mignot, Stanford immunologist Elizabeth Mellins, and colleagues developed an immune system cell line that carries the HLA type associated with narcolepsy. They combined the cell line with short pieces of the hypocretin protein, then added T cells from patients and controls to the mix.The team had access to four sets of identical twins in which one twin had narcolepsy but the other didn’t. In each case, T cells from the affected twin reacted strongly to the hypocretin “epitopes” displayed by the HLA-bearing cells, but T cells from the healthy twin did not. The researchers found the same pattern when they compared T cells from 10 Irish children who had developed narcolepsy after receiving the Pandemrix vaccine with T cells from the patients’ healthy siblings, all of whom had the same HLA type and were also vaccinated. The patients’ T cells reacted to the hypocretin epitopes, while their siblings’ cells did not.They then wondered whether the H1N1 virus itself might provoke the same immune reaction. A computer search turned up certain stretches of a key part of the H1N1 virus, the hemagglutinin protein, that “looked strikingly the same” as the hypocretin epitopes, Mignot says. Sure enough, in lab tests the viral protein fragment activated hypocretin-reactive immune cells—strong evidence that narcolepsy could be due to a process known as molecular mimicry, in which protein fragments from an invading virus or other pathogen prime the immune system to react to native proteins with a similar molecular structure.The results are “exactly what we’ve been waiting for,” says vaccine expert Hanna Nohynek of the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, who was part of the team that first identified the increased risk of narcolepsy in children who received Pandemrix.But molecular mimicry alone can’t explain the whole mystery. It’s not clear how an immune response to hypocretin could lead to the destruction of the neurons that produce it, as reactive cells in the blood would not necessarily reach these brain cells.And it is still unclear whether H1N1 flu alone might trigger narcolepsy. Mignot and his colleagues have reported an increase in the disorder among unvaccinated Chinese children who had the virus. But researchers in South Korea and Europe have found no increased risk of the disorder in people who had swine flu.“There’s plenty of work to do,” says vaccine expert Steven Black of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, who is investigating possible links between H1N1 vaccines and narcolepsy. But the work “is the first mechanistic explanation of the disease,” which should help researchers home in on the factor in Pandemrix that might have caused problems. Identifying that, he says, “is a first step” to being able to make even safer vaccines.last_img read more

Death march of the penguins

first_imgEmperor penguin populations could plummet 19% by the end of the century, thanks—not surprisingly—to climate change, according to a new study. Emperor penguins breed and raise their chicks on Antarctica’s fringe of sea ice, and a constant amount of the frozen ocean water is vital to their survival. Too little sea ice, which harbors the penguin’s diet of squid, fish, and shrimplike critters called krill, means the penguins could go hungry. Too much ice and the birds have to travel farther to reach the ocean—a tough round trip for nonbreeding adults, but particularly for parents feeding their chicks. Climate change can have both direct and indirect impacts on sea ice extent in a given location, by not only warming temperatures and melting the ice, but also by altering wind patterns and wave heights that can push the ice around. Now, researchers have used climate projections of sea ice cover at the location of 45 known colonies to assess the impact of sea ice gain or loss on future penguin populations. Using demographic data from the well-studied colony at Terre Adélie in East Antarctica (the subject of the documentary March of the Penguins), the team determined that at least 75% of the emperor penguin colonies are vulnerable to changes in sea ice, they found, with 20% of the colonies heading for extinction by 2100, the team reports online today in Nature Climate Change.last_img read more

Colombian grad student faces jail for sharing a thesis online

first_imgDiego Gómez Hoyos is studying for a master’s degree in conservation and wildlife management. But his thirst for knowledge is also threatening his freedom.The 26-year-old Colombian biologist faces up to 8 years in prison for posting a copy of another scientist’s thesis online. Colombia, like many other countries, grants strong protections to authors. In 2006, its law was revised to bring it into agreement with a free trade agreement with the United States, lengthening jail times and increasing fines.“What worries our community is how a relationship of colleagues turned into a tremendous legal affair, with these horrible consequences,” writes Ángela Suárez-Mayorga of the University of the Andes in Bogotá, to ScienceInsider in an e-mail. “Nobody believes that Gómez should go to jail for sharing a document.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)As an undergraduate at the University of Quindío in Colombia, Gómez studied the population ecology of the Cauca poison frog (Andinobates bombetes), an endangered species native to Colombia. He had to work largely by himself, because the university did not have a herpetologist. Nor did the library have access to specialized journals or databases. Gómez saved money for trips to the museum collections in Bogotá. He built up a personal collection of journal articles, gathered during his trips. He started a study group on amphibians and reptiles. After graduation, while he worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society, he stayed in touch with students interested in the work.In 2011, Gómez came across a master’s thesis, completed at the National University of Colombia in 2006, that would be useful for identifying amphibians he had seen in protected areas. He posted the thesis on Scribd to allow it to be easily downloaded by other researchers and students. At the time, the downloads were free. When Scribd started charging unregistered users $5 per download, Gómez removed the thesis.The author of the thesis, a Colombian herpetologist, however, had already notified police that it had been posted without his permission. After being contacted by police, Gómez cooperated with the investigation. In April 2013, a criminal complaint was filed. This past fall, he learned that the office of the attorney general was going to bring the case to trial. Gómez “was in a panic,” says Carolina Botero, an attorney at Fundación Karisma, a digital rights advocacy organization in Bogotá, which is advocating on his behalf.Botero had heard about Gomez’s plight through a mutual friend and arranged for a pro bono attorney to represent him. “I am very concerned and puzzled,” Gómez wrote in a statement posted on the foundation website earlier this month. “Above all, I’m disconcerted that this activity I did for academic purposes may be considered a crime.” Botero and others say that Colombia has an outdated list of exceptions to authors’ rights. “The whole law is misguided in this issue,” says Vivian Páez of the University of Antioquia in Medellin, president of the Colombian Association of Herpetologists.Botero says her organization tried for months to negotiate a settlement with the author, to no avail. Gomez has declined to identify the plaintiff “to not make this case a personal one.” Although the author has not been named in public documents, ScienceInsider has learned the identity of the author, who did not respond to a request for comment. A preliminary hearing was held in December. The trial was scheduled to begin this month, but has been delayed.  Oscar Lizarazo, a lawyer who studies intellectual property and biodiversity policy at the National University of Colombia, thinks that a conviction is unlikely because Gomez did not intend to harm the author’s rights or profit. “In the unlikely event of being held criminally responsible, [I believe] he would receive a significantly lower penalty,” Lizarazo writes to ScienceInsider in an e-mail. At the same time, Lizarazo thinks that anyone wishing to post the work of another author should get permission first.Whatever the outcome, Botero says, the case has already highlighted concerns about excessive penalties. “This case exemplifies the real life harm of … laws that protect the ‘economic rights’ of authors,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote on its blog. “We need major reform of our laws, both internationally and domestically, to ensure that people are not made criminals for promoting scientific progress and exercising their creative expression.”last_img read more

Harvestmen trap prey with cornstarchlike glue

first_imgSpiders are famous for gluing prey in their webs, but biologists have discovered that their close relatives, the harvestmen, can create sticky traps with their legs. The spindly limbed harvestmen are often called daddy longlegs. The short, leglike extremities on a harvestman’s face, the pedipalps, are covered in tiny hairs that carry droplets of sticky liquid at the tips. Using high-speed video cameras, German biologists observed that with just a touch of its sticky leg, the harvestman can capture fast-moving, soil-dwelling creatures known as springtails that are larger than itself (as shown in the above video). To test the strength of the adhesive, the researchers used a fine glass pipette tip with a microscopic glass bead at the end to pull a single sticky pedipalp hair. They pulled the pedipalp back at different speeds and recorded the deflection of the pipette tip on video. Just a single hair was sufficient to hold the weight of an average springtail, the scientists report online today in The Journal of Experimental Biology. Even more to the researchers’ surprise, the faster they pulled the pedipalp away, the stickier the droplet became, which shows that the glue is a so-called non-Newtonian fluid that, unlike most fluids, becomes more viscous when subjected to a sudden force. That means that the more a springtail struggles, the tighter the glue will hold it.(Video credit: Jonas O. Wolff/University of Kiel)Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

Growth in 12th Plan May be Below 9%

first_imgRelated Itemslast_img

$220 Indian Tablet Computer

first_imgRelated Itemslast_img

Worrying Sign: Investments Fall 55%, Attributed o Rise in Rates

first_imgRelated Itemslast_img

2 UK Lorry Drivers Jailed for Causing Road Crash that Killed 8 Indians

first_imgTwo truck drivers were jailed by a UK court on March 23 over a crash that killed eight Indians in 2017. Ryszard Masierak, 31, was jailed for 14 years after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. David Wagstaff, 54, was sentenced to 40 months in prison after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving, the BBC reported.Masierak was also disqualified from driving for a period of 17 years. Aylesbury Crown Court handed its verdict to the duo for causing the collision on the M1 in Buckinghamshire on Aug. 26 last year. Judge Francis Sheridan said that the crash was the most serious one in the United Kingdom in more than 26 years.The crash caused deaths of Nottingham-based Keralite minibus driver Cyriac Joseph and seven of his passengers who were all Indians.The minibus, being driven by Joseph, and was hit by Wagstaff and shunted into Masierak’s lorry, which had stopped on the inside lane. It was crushed between their two vehicles.On the day of the incident, Masierak was driving a heavy goods vehicle on the M1 southbound near Newport Pagnell when he stopped his lorry in lane one of the carriageway and remained there for 12.5 minutes, causing an obstruction, the Thames Valley police said in a statement.The minibus carrying the Indian group of family and friends who were on their way to a trip around Europe, approached Masierak’s stationary vehicle in lane one, and stopped behind it, unable to pull in to lane two to overtake due to traffic.Meanwhile, Wagstaff was driving a lorry that approached the scene. He was talking on his mobile phone using hands free while on cruise control. He collided with the stationary vehicles while travelling at 56mph, pushing the minibus under Masierak’s lorry. The eight persons died at the scene.Masierak was found to be under the influence of twice the permitted alcohol limit, the Independent reported.During the sentencing of the pair, Judge Sheridan defined Masierak as a “persistent, unmitigated, if not very accomplished liar” who had shown no remorse. “What you have tried to do is blame everyone and everybody except yourself,” he said, according to the BBC.The deceased  passengers were identified as Panneerselvam Annamalai, Rishi Ranjeev Kumar, Vivek Baskaran, Lavanyalakshmi Seetharaman, Karthikeyan Pugalur Ramasubramanian, Subramaniyan Arachelvan and Tamilmani Arachelvan. Four other passengers, which included a four-year-old girl orphaned by the crash, were seriously injured and spent weeks in hospital, according to reports.Judge Sheridan said that Wagstaff had between nine and 11 seconds to take a look at the vehicles ahead, only if he had not been distracted by using the phone. “You took no action whatsoever because you weren’t concentrating on what was in front of you – they were there to be seen and you didn’t see them,” he said.It was revealed after the verdicts that Masierak’s professional driving license had been revoked before the crash. The Polish national was told that he could face deportation on his release from prison.“It would be wrong of me not to take the opportunity to urge the public to download the app that deactivates your phone when you are on the move,” said Judge Sheridan, although he acknowledged that Wagstaff was within the ambit of law when he used a bluetooth headset. Related ItemsBritish IndianBuckinghamshireUnited Kingdomlast_img read more

Page 1 of 231

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén