2 men held at ATM in skimming racket
CHENNAI: Two men attempting to use a card skimmer to steal customer data who an alert guard busted by downing the shutters and trapping them in an Axis Bank ATM kiosk in Tambaram on Thursday night have told investigators that they were just two-bit players in a large racket to clean out the accounts of unsuspecting customers. Bank officials started monitoring the kiosk in Gandhi Nagar closely after discovering the skimmer, a device that steals information from users in the ATM on Tuesday. Sultan, 51 and Sulaimaan, 49, who came to the city from Tirunelveli and rented a house in Kilpauk, told investigators that the head of a ring of skimming ring who operates from outside the city had recruited them to place and retrieve the devices in ATMs, a police officer said. “A customer could not insert his card in the machine and informed bank officials,” he said. “A technician later found that someone had inserted a skimmer in the card slot”. Bank officials informed the police, who checked footage from the machine CCTV camera and found the men inserting the skimmer. Skimmers records information from the magnetic stripe of cards, the officer said. The thieves then use the data to make counterfeit cards. “When Sultan and Sulaimaan returned on Thursday to retrieve the device, the guard helped the Tambaram police arrest them,” the officer said. During interrogation, the men admitted that that they had placed skimmers in two ATMs in Chennai. The Central Crime Branch police are probing the case.
Mumbai: Engine failure on takeoff shuts main runway for 30 minutes
MUMBAI: The main runway of Mumbai airport was shut down for about 30 minutes in the wee hours of Sunday after a Swissair aircraft suffered an engine failure on takeoff. The pilots were forced to abort the takeoff roll and with the aircraft stranded on the operational runway it was closed for flight operations which forced a Lufthansa flight to divert to Hyderabad, while an IndiGo aircraft did a go-around to eventually land in Mumbai. The incident took place at 1.04am when a Swiss International Airlines’ Airbus 330-343 aircraft operating Mumbai-Zurich flight LX-155 with 236 passengers on board was on the takeoff roll on main runway 27. “The left-hand engine stalled seconds into the takeoff roll. The aircraft must have been below the takeoff decision speed since the pilots opted to reject the takeoff. Else, they would have continued with the takeoff, only to return and land in Mumbai as soon as possible,” said a source.
A twin-engine aircraft can safely execute a takeoff and climb with one engine. “The aircraft came to a halt on the runway. No smoke was seen from the affected engine, but because of the hard-braking action, the aircraft wheel assembly had to be cooled down,” an official said. The main runway 27 was shut for flight operations as crash fire tenders took over. “The aircraft wheel assembly was sprayed with water,” added the source. “The flight had to be cancelled and the passengers were provided with hotel accommodations and were rebooked on the first available flight connection to their final destination,” said a statement issued by Swissair. Flight operations were moved to secondary runway 14 around 1.20am. An IndiGo aircraft, which was on final approach to land, was forced to go-around and a Lufthansa Boeing 747-800 was diverted to Hyderabad. The main runway was handed over to the air traffic control around 1.45 am, but flight operations continued on the secondary runway till about 2.05am. An MIAL spokesperson confirmed the incident.
Major fire guts Rohingya refugee camp in Delhi, all IDs charred
NEW DELHI: The Rohingya in Delhi have nowhere to go. A major fire tore through their refugee camp in southeast Delhi’s Kalindi Kunj area in the early hours of Sunday, devouring everything in its path. Though no one was seriously hurt, the approximately 230 residents of the camp have lost their shelter and all their valuables, including identity cards and special visas issued by the United Nations. Many have also lost documents related to their properties in Myanmar. The Rohingya are a mostly Muslim people fleeing persecution in western Myanmar. Fire department officials said the fire began at around 3 am and two fire tenders were initially sent to the spot. As the fire spread across the camp, eight more fire tenders were pressed into service. It took two hours to control the conflagration. No casualties were reported. One man, Vikas Kumar, who was sleeping in a garage adjacent to the camp, suffered burn injuries to the hand and has been admitted to a private hospital. A preliminary probe revealed that the fire began in a toilet in the far left corner of the plot, where over 47 families live. Officials suspect a short-circuit in an electrical wire may have started the fire which then spread to shanties made mostly of asbestos, tin and plastic sheets.
Residents said they were woken up by the cries of people and when they emerged from their tents they saw massive flames enveloping the area. Syed Hussain, 35, said they had just enough time to wake up their children and family members. “People from the adjoining areas came and tried to douse the fire with buckets of water but the tents quickly caught fire and were destroyed,” Hussain, who has been living in the camp since 2012, recalled. Locals claimed the camp, housing almost 100 women and 50 children, doesn’t have sufficient firefighting equipment despite this being the fourth fire in the six years since the camp came into existence. “We have been provided with only five small fire extinguishers. Apart from that, there is nothing else to tackle such situations,” Karimullah, a camp resident, claimed. DCP (southeast) Chinmoy Biswal said police teams reached the area soon after the fire and were still providing the residents with basic necessities when reports last came in. “A case under appropriate sections has been registered to further investigate the incident. Preliminary investigation has indicated that the fire started due to a short-circuit and spread in the area,” DCP Biswal said, adding that forensic experts and crime team personnel have been called in to investigate all possibilities regarding the origin of the fire.
Shoot at sight: Smartphones and CCTV cameras both boon and bane for police
Chennai: On a balmy September evening in 2013, 58-year-old neurosurgeon Dr S D Subbiah was hacked near a private hospital in Abhirampuram. The grainy CCTV footage showed three men attacking the doctor even as passersby stopped to witness the bloodshed and move on. Back then, when high-resolution CCTV cameras were rare and high-speed mobile internet very expensive and its penetration limited, the footage was picked up by news channels which replayed it frame by frame. Daylight murder on the streets which had hitherto been a spectacle for those at the spot — had found a new and bigger audience, whose numbers would only multiply as smartphones and internet became cheaper. If one splits the past 10 years into two halves, then the murder of Dr Subbiah becomes the fulcrum on which crime as a police case and crime as a dinner-table discourse is balanced, or imbalanced. On the one hand, streets in Chennai lined with CCTV cameras and people armed with smartphones provided crucial video leads to the police, on the other they exposed the frailties of the system in which the police and the public complemented each other. Investigators, like post-new age content developers, say the CCTV and smartphone cameras are a revolution; they conjure up the all-seeing third eye that remains unseen. Very recently, priest Balaganesh, who murdered his wife Gnanapriya but played the victim, was rounded up by the police who not only employed traditional forensics matching blood samples but used his cellphone details and analysed footage from CCTV cameras to zero in on his friend who helped the priest murder his wife. “Video footage makes some cases open-and-shut. Crimes can be proved beyond doubt with video evidence, mobile call records and forensics. That is the reason the police ask establishments and residences to install CCTV cameras,” said retired police officer S Aravindan.
But with the boon comes the bane. Affordable smartphones loaded with high-resolution cameras and a gigabyte of data costing less than a liter of water made recording videos and sharing them as easy as making calls. And the police found themselves at the receiving end of this phenomenon. Videos of police personnel indulging in wrongdoings go viral within hours, lapped up by the forever famished social media. In February, the Chennai police suspended a head constable after a video showing him taking bribe from truck drivers went viral. The video was apparently shot by a whistleblower. Earlier this month, three traffic enforcement sub-inspectors beat up a woman and her son for counter-questioning the police when stopped for riding triple without helmets. The video, taken by a bystander, went viral within hours forcing the police to conduct a departmental inquiry against their personnel. The incident, like others, gave the force yet another bad name. RTI activist G Balaji, who runs PACE, an NGO, said, the smartphone has empowered people like the RTI. “The camera mobiles and internet connect people instantly. Video evidence helps the public to raise their voice against issues even at the micro level,” he said. Sand smuggling, malpractices by leading restaurants, bribery have been, and continue to be, exposed by ordinary people, Balaji added. According to retired DGP Bhola Nath, in the age of awareness and heightened surveillance, the police department is going through a period of transition. “We have seen a lot of changes in our professional lives and this is one among them. We shall have to develop and adapt to the system and handle things better in the future,” he said.
Afghan, Pakistani forces clash near border, 2 killed
KABUL: Afghan troops clashed with Pakistani forces near the disputed border on Sunday, in fighting that killed two Pakistani paramilitaries and wounded five others, officials said. Pakistan’s military said in a statement that the Frontier Corps was carrying out “routine surveillance” along the border when it was “fired upon from the Afghanistan side.” It said the paramilitaries showed “maximum restraint” to avoid civilian casualties, and that “military engagement” is underway to defuse the situation. Col. Abdul Hanan, the acting provincial police chief in Afghanistan’s eastern Khost province, said the fighting broke out after Pakistani forces crossed into Afghanistan. The two countries are separated by the 2,400-kilometer (1,500-mile) Durand Line, which was drawn by British rulers in 1896. Afghanistan does not recognize it as an international border and has objected to new fortifications being built by Pakistan. The two US allies routinely accuse each other of failing to crack down on militants who operate along the porous border.
Gunmen open fire at residence of Pakistan Supreme Court judge
LAHORE: The residence of a Supreme Court judge who is monitoring the corruption cases against ousted premier Nawaz Sharif came under firing by unknown gunmen today, triggering widespread condemnation in Pakistan. No casualty or injury was reported in the firing incident at the house of Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan in Model Town Lahore. According to a statement issued by the Supreme Court, Justice Ahsan’s residence was targeted twice at 4:30am and 9am on Sunday. Following the incident, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar reached Justice Ahsan’s house and summoned Punjab Inspector General Arif Nawaz Khan. The Chief Justice is personally monitoring the situation, it said, adding that a forensic team has also reached the scene to collect evidence while ballistic experts are called in to determine the nature of fire. The police officials are investigating whether it was a targeted attack or aerial firing, it said. Police said two bullets have been fired – one at the entrance gate and other at kitchen door. “Elite force commandos have cordoned off the area and investigation is underway,” police spokesman Niyab Haider said, adding that the Rangers have also been deployed at the residence of Justice Ahsan. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto and the Supreme Court Bar Association and Lahore High Court Bar Association condemned the incident.
Pakistan People’s Party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari termed the attacks alarming and called for a judicial probe. Prime Minister Abbasi directed the federal and provincial authorities to bring the culprits to task. Cricketer-turned-politician and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan indirectly blamed Sharif for the incident. “Strongly condemn the firing at Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan’s house. These Sicilian-mafia-like tactics (referring to Sharif) to pressurise senior judiciary are unacceptable in any democracy. PTI stands firmly behind the Judiciary and rule of law,” he said. Justice Ahsan was also part of the Supreme Court bench that had disqualified Sharif from the office of the prime minister in the Panama Papers case. It had also called Sharif and company a “Sicilian mafia”. After the Panama Papers verdict in July last, Justice Ahsan was appointed as a monitoring judge in the three corruption references against Sharif and his children – Hasan, Hussain and Maryam – and his son-in-law Capt. (Retd.) Mohammad Safdar. The Sharif family is primarily facing money laundering and amassing huge wealth abroad charges. An accountability court is Islamabad is likely to announce a verdict in these references in coming weeks. Dismissing the trial as farce and a conspiracy against him and his family, Sharif said it is likely that he is sentenced to jail in these ‘fake references’ and Adiala Jail Rawalpindi is being cleaned for the purpose.