Indian expat swims to shore in choppy sea after slipping off yacht in Dubai

Gulf News
December 6, 2020

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Dubai, Dec 6: An Indian expat in Dubai had a near-death experience as he swam for around two hours in the cold, choppy sea to reach the shore after slipping off a yacht on Thursday.

Rajveer Vakani, a 27-year-old accountant from the Indian state of Gujarat, said he was on board a rented yacht on which his friend’s birthday party was taking place. The yacht set sail from Dubai Marina around sunset and everyone was moving to the upper deck about an hour and a half later, he added. Vakani, who lives with his elder brother in a flat in Al Nahda, said he was the last one on the lower deck when guests moved upstairs.

“While I was making my way towards the others, I slipped and went overboard. I shouted for help but no one could hear me. I watched the yacht sailing away and thought it will be back soon after someone realises I’m missing,” Vakani, who is not an expert swimmer, said.

‘This is do or die’

The yacht didn’t turn around for what Vakani estimates to be around 20 minutes or so. “I was trying to stay afloat in the same place, in case they would come back. But it was getting very tough; the waves were thrashing my face and I was swallowing a lot of seawater. It was cold and very dark. I saw the lights of the Burj Al Arab hotel in the distance and thought to myself, ‘this is it, this is ‘do or die’,” said Vakani, who was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans then.

Vakani tried swimming towards the hotel lights. He swallowed more water and the cold salty sea stung his eyes. Vakani kept a slow pace to conserve his energy and held his morale high. “I’ve seen lot of survival shows, I know what people are capable of if they have the will. I told myself I could do this, that I could survive.”

Rocky landing

After what felt like an endless swim, which lasted around two hours, Vakani reached a heap of rocks not too far from the hotel. Exhausted and feeling nauseous, Vakani vomited and waited to regain some energy to move. “A man, I think he was American, was walking past and saw me. He helped me walk to the road, where another man, a Russian, let me use his mobile phone and I called my brother, who told me to take a taxi and come home. The first taxi refused because I was soaked but soon another taxi came, which took me home,” said Vakani, who is from Bhavnagar city.

‘They were in shock’

Vakani used another mobile, which was kept at home, to call a friend and tell him what had happened. He heard how his friends on the yacht had called the police and looked for him. “My friend said they were all in shock as they thought I must have died because they couldn’t find me for hours. They had gone to the police station to follow up. Upon hearing the news, the police called me in to ask questions about what had happened and after checking everything, they closed the case,” Vakani said.

“My message to everyone is ‘don’t give up’. When you find yourself in a tough situation, you have to tell yourself, ‘I can do this’; you have to believe in yourself and stay strong.”

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News Network
January 13,2021

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Bengaluru, Jan 13: As Karnataka Chief Minster BS Yediyurappa expands his 17-month old cabinet, seven ministers took oath today; at least three of them are the Chief Minister's loyalists.

Three MLCs M T B Nagaraj, R Shankar, C P Yogeeshwar and four MLAs Umesh Katti (Hukkeri), Arvind Limbavali (Mahadevapura), Murugesh Nirani(Bilgi), S Angara (Sullia) are the seven ministers who were sworn in to the state cabinet. 

Governor Vajubhai Vala administered them the oath of office and secrecy at the Glass House of Raj Bhavan at around 4 PM.

With 27 members, seven posts were earlier vacant in the cabinet. However, Excise Minister H Nagesh was today dropped from the post. 

"We have kept one post vacant, and (regarding) Nagesh...I will discuss with him and try to convince," the 77-year-old Chief Minister today said. 

At least three of the seven new ministers -  Umesh Katti, Arvind Limbavali and Murugesh Nirani - are seen as BS Yeddiyurappa loyalists. 

MTB Nagaraj and CP Yogeshwar were earlier with the Congress and R Shankar was an independent who was made a minister in the Congress-JDS coalition government just before it fell last year.

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Agencies
January 14,2021

Mumbai, Jan 14: A 26-year-old woman has died after her husband allegedly pushed her out of a running local train while they were standing at its door in Mumbai, a police official said on Thursday.

The incident took place on Monday afternoon between Chembur and Govandi railway stations following which the woman's husband was arrested, he said.

The 31-year-old accused and the victim, both labourers and residents of Mankhurd area, got married two months back.

On Monday, they were travelling in a local train along with the victim's seven-year-old daughter from her previous marriage, the Government Railway Police (GRP) official said.

As the woman leaned out of the moving train, her husband held her at the doorway, and then allegedly released her from his grip, following which she fell on the tracks, the official said.

Later, when the train stopped at Govandi station, a woman commuter in the coach, who had been watching the couple, got down and alerted the railway police about the incident.

The police caught the man at the station and then took him to the incident spot, where they found his wife lying injured and unconscious, the official said.

The victim was rushed to a hospital where doctors declared her dead before admission, he said.

The man was arrested and an FIR was registered against him under relevant sections.

The police are trying to verify if the accused was under the influence of sedatives at the time of the incident, the official said.

The woman's daughter was handed over to her relatives, he added.

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News Network
January 24,2021

Mumbai, Jan 24: Groping a minor's breast without "skin to skin contact" cannot be termed as sexual assault as defined under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the Bombay High Court has said.

Justice Pushpa Ganediwala of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, in a judgement passed on January 19, the detailed copy of which was made available now, held that there must be "skin to skin contact with sexual intent" for an act to be considered sexual assault.

She said in her verdict that mere groping will not fall under the definition of sexual assault.

Justice Ganediwala modified the order of a sessions court, which had sentenced a 39-year-old man to three years of imprisonment for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl.

As per the prosecution and the minor victim's testimony in court, in December 2016, the accused, one Satish, had taken the girl to his house in Nagpur on the pretext of giving her something to eat.

Once there, he gripped her breast and attempted to remove her clothes, Justice Ganediwala recorded in her verdict.

However, since he groped her without removing her clothes, the offence cannot be termed as sexual assault and, instead, constitutes the offence of outraging a woman's modesty under IPC section 354, the high court held.

While section 354 entails a minimum sentence of imprisonment for one year, sexual assault under the POCSO Act entails a minimum imprisonment of three years.

The sessions court had sentenced him to three years of imprisonment for the offences under the POCSO Act and under IPC section 354. The sentences were to run concurrently. The high court, however, acquitted him under the POCSO Act while upholding his conviction under IPC section 354.

"Considering the stringent nature of punishment provided for the offence (under POCSO), in the opinion of this court, stricter proof and serious allegations are required," HC said.

"The act of pressing of breast of the child aged 12 years, in the absence of any specific detail as to whether the top was removed or whether he inserted his hand inside the top and pressed her breast, would not fall in the definition of sexual assault," it said.

Justice Ganediwala further said in her verdict that "the act of pressing breast can be a criminal force to a woman/ girl with the intention to outrage her modesty".

The POCSO Act defines sexual assault as when someone "with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person, or does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration is said to commit sexual assault".

The court, in its verdict, held that this "physical contact" mentioned in the definition of sexual assault must be "skin to skin" or direct physical contact.

"Admittedly, it is not the case of the prosecution that the appellant removed her top and pressed her breast. As such, there is no direct physical contact i.e. skin to skin with sexual intent without penetration," the HC said.  

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