Cash van custodian, driver fight off bullets
NEW DELHI: The custodian and driver of a cash van heroically resisted a robbery bid despite being shot at outside a Shahbad Dairy ATM on Tuesday afternoon. The bid was foiled and Rs 27 lakh saved in the process. The incident occurred around 3pm when the cash van belonging to a well-known logistics company had gone to Metro Vihar to replenish an Axis Bank ATM. The custodian, Tarachand, was waiting outside for the cashier to finish putting the money into the ATM while driver Ram Varan parked the vehicle in such a way so as to guard the gate. Three youths ran out of a lane near the ATM and held Tarachand at gunpoint. “Initially, I thought it was a case of road rage but soon realised their intention,” Tarachand said in his statement. Seeing Tarachand facing a gun, Ram Varan stepped out of the vehicle and confronted the men. They shot him in the leg. As Ram Varan fell, Tarachand tried to run inside the ATM and close the door. At this, he was shot in the leg too. But despite being hit, Tarachand managed to pull down the shutter, thereby locking himself and the cashier inside.
“The men kept hitting on the shutter for a while, but left after sometime. We were saved since they did not have a way to get inside,” Tarachand said. Though DCP (Rohini) Rajneesh Gupta could not be contacted, sources said the assailants could be local criminals from Metro Vihar. Locals said that a similar incident was reported last year when some youths tried to attack two employees of a cash van. But the bid had been foiled by alert bystanders. Bank officials said the custodians of cash vans are instructed to carry less amounts of cash in these areas to prevent such incidents. A case of attempt to murder has been registered against the youths, and both Tarachand and Ram Varan have been admitted to a hospital. Doctors said that they are out of danger.
Woman and her 2 kids critical after blast, was alerted about gas leak but ignored it
MUMBAI: A 40-year-old woman, her teenaged daughter and son were grievously injured after a gas leak at their Dahisar (E) residence caused an explosion and fire on Tuesday morning. All of them sustained major burn injuries. Meenakshi Ravan and her daughter, Prachi (15), have been admitted to Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital at Kandivli. Her son, Chirag (13), has been moved to Kasturba Hospital in Chinchpokli, which has a burns unit. Meenakshi’s husband Sanjay was away at work when the incident took place at their house in Rajpoot chawl in Rawalpada, Dahisar. While Meenakshi is a housewife, Sanjay works as a security guard. “The gas seems to have leaked over several hours in the night. Some residents said that they could smell the gas early on Tuesday but could not find the source. When residents started inquiring and a youngster knocked at Meenakshi’s door to ask her, she sent him away thinking it was not in her house,” said a police official.
Around 7.45am, when Meenakshi stepped into the kitchen to prepare breakfast and lit the stove, there was an explosion due to the accumulated gas, sparking a fire. As Meenakshi was in the kitchen, she was injured the most – 90% burns. “The children were sleeping. Prachi suffered 60% burns while her brother 50%. The explosion has almost demolished their house as the roof has come down and the door has been smashed. A neighbouring house too was impacted. Locals put out the fire and called up Sanjay,” added the official. A passerby, Subhash Patkar (47), who was walking outside the house too was injured. He was admitted to Ashoka Hospital with 18 to 20% burns. Police said that Patkar, a local, was the first to alert everyone about a suspected gas leak in the morning. He was heading to work when the explosion occurred. A relative of Meenakshi told TOI that they wanted to move her and Prachi to Masina Hospital in Byculla, which has a burns unit but they cannot afford treatment there. Doctors at the Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital said Meenakshi and Prachi are not stable and it’s not advisable to move them.
Caught on cam: Armed robbers flee with Rs 11 lakh
NEW DELHI: A gang of robbers took approximately Rs 11 lakh cash from a wholesale tobacco shop in southwest Delhi’s Kapashera on Sunday evening. They entered the shop with a gun even as the whole incident got recorded by a CCTV camera. The complainant, Harsh Khandelwal, told police that he was manning the shop in the absence of his father who had gone to Mumbai. Khandelwal was sitting along with two workers. “At 8.45pm, a man came to the shop and bought a packed of cigarette. As I handed him the change, the man pulled out a gun and aimed it at me. He then entered the shop and sat on the counter,” Khandelwal said in his complaint. Moments later, two more men entered the shop and collected all the cash present in the shop. In the CCTV footage accessed by TOI, a man in a T-shirt, blue jeans and blue sports shoes is seen sitting on the shop counter with a gun in his hand. The shop owner and his workers are sitting with their hands raised. In the footage, two more men are seen walking through the shop. One of them is seen carrying a gun and taking the money in a white plastic bag while the other is trying to disconnect the DVR device of the CCTV camera. Later on, all three are seen going out of the shop with two white bags containing cash. Just as they leave, Khandelwal is seen using his phone. Police officers said that a case has been registered. CCTV footage has been taken to ascertain the identity of the accused.
Major fire at rubber factory in Patancheru, no casualties
HYDERABAD: A major fire mishap occurred at Agarwal Rubber Limited at Patancheru in Sangareddy district, early hours of Tuesday. Fire control room received the fire call at around 2.40am and nearly 10 fire tenders were deployed at the spot. “There have been no casualties, but it is a major fire accident. We are expecting to completely douse the fire till evening, several rubber raw materials have caught fire. we are trying to control the fire from spreading to other industries located nearby. We are yet to find the cause of the fire,” said S Sreedhar Reddy, district fire officer, Medak. According to the officer, nearly 85 firemen are present at the spot, while, nearly 40% of the factory property has been damaged in the mishap. “We are able to save 60% of the factory property, however, one of the shed has been completely destroyed, including the rubber raw material. So far the owner is expecting nearly Rs 40 crore property damage,” said the DFO. The officer further added that few workers were on duty at the time of the mishap but managed to escape.
Kolkatans in Toronto edgy over van attack
KOLKATA: Several Kolkatans, now settled in Toronto, were left shaken by the van attack in the Canadian city that killed 10 and injured 15 on Tuesday. They feared terrorism may have cast its shadow in the country and wished the incident turned out to be an accident and not an attack. Finance professional Rana Dutta, who has been living in Toronto for the last four years, was returning from office at Richmond Hill when transport officials informed him that no conveyance was available due to an emergency. Even as Dutta walked along Yonge Street — the incident spot — he stumbled upon bodies of victims that were still lying on the sidewalk. “It was a horrible sight. Initially I thought some construction work was going on or an accident occurred. It was only after I came close to the spot I got to know about the terror attack. The entire area was cordoned off by police and pedestrians had to take a detour to avoid the spot. Some of the bodies were still lying on the sidewalk and there was blood all around. I found it difficult to imagine that it actually happened,” he said. Management consultant Shouri Bagchi was having lunch at a downtown eatery around 15km away when the news of the attack was flashed on TV. Bagchi, who is in his early thirties and has been living and working in Toronto for more than a decade, couldn’t believe his eyes.
“I was shocked that such a thing happened in Toronto — a perfectly peaceful place. It was terrible to see the bodies being carried off. There was fear in the eyes of those present in the area. This is an alien feeling for us living here, far from the shadows of terrorism. Everyone around me was equally horrified,” he said. He added that if the incident was linked to the terror that happened in Europe last year, then it was a matter of concern for Toronto. Suman Nag, an application analyst working in Toronto for the last three years, said the news made him jittery. “It was a terrible day for Toronto. I was working from home when I saw the news on TV. The spot is near the downtown core financial area which is a far from where I stay. But it could have happened in my neighbourhood,” he said. Nag added that even though it was reassuring that initial investigation revealed it was not associated with terrorism, it remained a matter of concern. “Toronto is very peaceful and I have never heard anything like this in my seven years of stay in Canada,” Nag said. Datta, too, wished that the investigations proved that it was not an act of terror. “The Toronto police is still investigating it and the motive is unclear. I hope this is just one of those accidents and not an act of terror,” he said.
500,000 Afghan children affected by drought: Unicef
KABUL: Unicef announced on Tuesday that 500,000 Afghan children have been affected by a drought in the country. Out of the country’s 34 provinces, 10 were worst hit where 20 to 30 per cent water sources are reportedly dry, threatening the lives of about 1 million people, Xinhua news agency quoted Unicef as saying in a statement. An additional 2 million people could feel its effects over the coming months. “These areas have pre-existing high rates of malnutrition. Without adequate nutritious food and safe water for drinking, as well as for hygiene and sanitation, children’s health will only worsen,” the statement said. The impact of the drought couldn’t have come at a worse time, as cases of severe acute malnutrition, or seasonal malnutrition, are on the rise by about 25 per cent. Some 1.6 million children and 443,000 pregnant and lactating women suffer from malnutrition across Afghanistan, according to the statement. “The priority is to prevent the situation from deteriorating, by responding to the needs of children and families in the worst affected areas,” said Adele Khodr, Unicef’s Afghanistan Representative. The Unicef estimate that emergency nutrition assistance is needed for 92,000 Afghan children and 8,500 pregnant and lactating women. Between July and December 2018, some 121,000 acutely malnourished children under five and 33,000 pregnant and lactating women could need life-saving nutrition services.
China opens its first bank without bankers
Bank customers speak with a robot at an automated branch in Shanghai. The outlet opened by Beijing-based China Construction Bank has been dubbed China’s first ‘unmanned bank’ and is equipped with face-scanning software, a virtual reality room and talking robots.
SHANGHAI: Missed paying dues on your Communist Party membership? There’s a bank for that — and it’s fully automated. A state-owned Chinese bank has opened an automated branch equipped with facial-scanning software, a virtual reality room, a hologram machine, talking robots and touchscreens for paying utility bills, among other functions. The branch opened last week in central Shanghai’s Huangpu district and is being hyped as China’s first “unmanned bank”. Beijing-based China Construction Bank says the high-tech branch is meant to make banking more convenient, personalised, and efficient. It also reflects growing competition from cashless payment systems that are giving the banks a run for their money. A robot greets customers at the entrance and answers questions using voice recognition software. Clients can swipe their national identification cards to enter the bank — or scan their faces using the bank’s facial recognition device. Machines inside allow visitors to buy gold, change currency, or scout real estate investments using virtual reality googles.
The bank isn’t totally unstaffed. Guards still stand sentry, and a room equipped with teleconference software allows VIP clients to request help from human employees based elsewhere. News of the newfangled bank spread rapidly online, drawing throngs of curious observers. Tian Ting, a finance worker, said she was impressed after touring the branch. “These days, people are less and less likely to be inclined to want other people to come and bother them,” Tian said. The trend toward automation is not new. Retailers in China and elsewhere have been tinkering with automated supermarkets and convenience stores, and Bank of America last year piloted three automated banks in the US, calling them “advanced centers.” Still, the China Construction Bank branch takes technology a step further, with You and others citing its face-scanning abilities as a breakthrough. “Through the use of facial recognition, even without a human in the loop, the system can ensure uniqueness of the individual at the time of enrollment and can verify each time the person conducts a transaction,” said Joseph Atick, a biometrics expert and chairman of Identity International.