News Flash – 12 March 2018

National News



ATM fraudsters use glue to stop transactions, held


MUMBAI: If you go to withdraw money from an ATM and discover the keypad is jammed, make sure you alert the bank’s customer care immediately. Two teenagers were arrested on Friday for using the trick to get hold of the PIN number of card-holders to withdraw Rs. 20,000. The fraud came to light when the DN Nagar police received complaints from a 40-year-old hotel manager, KG Pillai and a 42-year-old housewife on February 20 and 28, claiming they had lost Rs10,000 each. Based on the complaint, a team scanned CCTV grabs and kept a watch on the ATMs. Sahil Shaikh (19) and Swaraj Kamkar (19) were nabbed when they were about to strike at an ATM. According to police, the accused are Kurla residents who claimed to be students at an aviation institute in Andheri. The duo has committed over a dozen such frauds in the past three months. However, investigators suspect they have been at it for longer. The duo used to target only ATM centres of Kotak Bank in Andheri (West) which are unmanned after 7pm.


Explaining the modus operandi, DCP Paramjit Singh Dahiya told TOI, “The accused used glue to stick two buttons (* and # keys which are on either side of ‘0’ button on the keypad)”. Elaborating further, he said the trick is executed when one of the accused present in the ATM acts as if he is unable to withdraw money and asks an unsuspecting customer in the queue to give it a shot. When the victim inserts his/her card, the accused memorizes the PIN. The screen soon freezes and the transaction cannot be completed or cancelled. The victim leaves the premises thinking the transaction has failed or the machine has developed a glitch. At this point, the second accused enters, uses the PIN after removing the glue and withdraws money. In all cases, the cardholders remained unaware the machine had been tampered.



Blazing sun, blisters on feet didn’t deter debt-hit farmers, tillers to march 180km

A farmer takes a break at Vikhroli on Sunday



MUMBAI: Vishwanath Bagare (77) and Mirabai Mohan Badade (60) are among the thousands of farmers who have been walking barefoot for five days from Nashik to reach Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai. Bagare and Mirabai, who hail from Varkheda and Korat villages in Nashik district respectively, maintained that they will not go home till their demands are not met. Bagare’s 38-year-old son Somnath had committed suicide by consuming poison in 2011, as he was unable to repay the Rs 1.5 lakh loan taken in 2008. Bagare told TOI: “I have 2 acres of farm land. After my son’s death, my daughter-in-law went to her parents’ home, leaving behind her two sons and two daughters. I am finding it difficult to take care of them. In addition, the state is ignoring our demand of unconditional loan waiver.” As Bagare is yet to clear to clear the interest on the Rs 1.5 lakh, he is ineligible to get benefit of the loan waiver scheme.


Mirabai, who has two daughters and a son, claims she has been farming on two acres of forest land in her village. She wants ownership of the land. Her husband works as a labourer in another district. Transfer of forest land to tillers is one of the demands made by the protesting farmers. “I won’t return home unless my demand is fulfilled,” said Mirabai. Minimal traffic snarls were reported on Sunday as farmers marched from Mulund to Sion along the service road of Eastern Express Highway. “We had issued diversions to ensure there was no congestion,” said a traffic police officer. Citizens tweeted that they wouldn’t mind braving traffic for farmers to get their demands heard. “I got stuck in traffic at Mulund… I found people serving food and water to the farmers. The heat was too much,” tweeted Rajen Nair.



Five ‘dead’ as fire breaks out in Tamil Nadu forest, IAF flown in for rescue operations

Around 37 members of a trekking club had gone on an expedition into the Theni forest on Friday night.



MADURAI: Two groups of 37 trekkers got trapped in a forest fire in the Kurangani hills near Bodi in Theni district on Sunday. Preliminary reports said five of them are dead and some are missing. However, the Theni administration has ruled out any deaths and said some have suffered burns and rescue operations were being carried out. A Chennai-based trekking club had organised the expedition from Kurangani to Bodi in the Western Ghats. The groups started the trek on Friday night and reached the Kerala side of the forest by Saturday. They started the trek from Kurangani on the Tamil Nadu border on Sunday morning. They were supposed to reach Bodi by evening and travel back to Chennai from Theni. However, by afternoon the trekkers were caught in the forest fire. The forest department is clueless about the expedition because the club had not obtained its permission for the trek. Conservator of forests, Madurai Circle, R K Jegania said it was an illegal trekking expedition. “As preliminary information, we have learnt that five trekkers are dead and some are missing. Our staff members are coordinating the rescue operations uphill,” he said. Forest department sources from the spot said they were trying their best to bring the injured downhill.


Around 16 of them have been taken to different places. “First aid teams have come up, and we are providing first aid to the injured persons. We are trying to take them down with the help of local villagers, but the task is challenging,” a forest department staff member said from the spot. Forest, fire and police department staff have rushed to the spot. By evening, the Theni district administration sought the help of the Indian Air Force for rescue operations. Theni collector Pallavi Baldev said all government machinery has been pressed into action. Rescue operations have been expedited. “As of now, I have not got any information on loss of life. Fifteen people have suffered burn injuries,” she said. Chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said the government would order a probe into the trekking expedition organised by the Chennai-based club without approval from the forest department.



Delhi: Women guards at south corporation schools



NEW DELHI: South Delhi Municipal Corporation is planning to deploy women guards at its municipal schools to ensure there is no case of sexual harassment on the premises. The move comes after the Delhi government directed all schools not to deploy men guards or sanitation workers in their primary wing. “Keeping the recent incidents of rape of a minor girl and brutal killing of a school boy, we are working on the proposal to deploy women guards for our schools,” said a senior official. The civic body has already floated a tender for installation of CCTV cameras in its schools, which will be monitored by the senior officials through a mobile app. “The installation process will start within a month. Also, we have brought a proposal to recruit people who have worked in defence system to head the security of every school,” added the official. DoE in its ‘check on safety measures’ guidelines had issued a 117-point checklist for ensuring students safety on the school premises and warned that there would be zero tolerance for any violation.



Fire at recycling unit off Bypass triggers panic


KOLKATA: A fire at a recycling unit in Mathpukur off EM Bypass on Sunday afternoon destroyed the unit and a few more polythene ware godowns nearby. While no one was injured, panic gripped the residents on the eastern fringes of the city. According to a source, the fire broke out at a recycling unit located near Dhapa around 2pm on Sunday. While the fire department is yet to find out the reason behind the fire, locals claimed that the unit had stacked several machineries which could have malfunctioned. Locals said that the unit was being used to recycle different categories of waste, including plastic wastes. Apart from this factory, there were other cottage industrial units that made products from recycled plastic, glass and metal foils. At around 2 pm, locals heard a loud noise from an area near Dhapa dumping ground. After coming out, they saw thick columns of smoke billowing out of the shanties located near the dumping ground. Locals claimed that they heard sound of LPG cylinder burst and panicked. Many of the locals, living in huts near the recycling unit, took out cylinders stored inside their houses and fled the spot. Residents on the opposite side of EM Bypass rushed to the spot. The fire had spread fast as combustible materials were stored inside the unit spread over five acres, said an official. Ten fire tenders were pressed into the service and they took around two hours to control the flames.



Now, women can send SOS alerts to police over WhatsApp group


KOLKATA: Bidhannagar Police has launched a special WhatsApp group for women residing in Baguati. The group has been created to secure working women and students who can directly inform the Bidhannagar control room, the IC of the local police station and senior officers in case they need help from cops. The move comes almost a year-and-a-half after a section of ham radio users moved Lalbazar asking them to proactively use WhatsApp features to pin point the exact location of the victim of a crime. The move, claimed cops, will help in bringing down reaction time. It will also open a direct channel of interaction with the police. Bidhannagar police now aims to provide similar facilities to other police stations as well. DC (headquarters) Amit Jawalgi said, “The initiative has begun with 50 members. We are planning to expand this number. We shall run a pilot project for a couple of months before we extend the facility to other police stations. The members can also send us videos which can help us improve their security.”


The top brass said it plans to use the “Live Location” feature on WhatsApp to help those in distress. The cops say the plan is simple – the control room will provide mobile numbers to which the location of the victim, along with a sentence explaining the SOS, can be sent. The end-to-end encrypted feature lets people control who they share their location with and for how long. This will be extremely useful during disasters and crises as help can be provided more effectively and quickly. Ranjana Kumari from Centre for Social Research on Tuesday told media persons said, “For women, in unsafe and dangerous situations, it may be a helpful tool for police officials and families, as real-time locations can be shared easily in WhatsApp,”. In addition to the move by Bidhannangar police, Kolkata police is all set to launch an app that will connect nearby CCTV cameras in a area. This is will help cops to gather evidence in the shortest possible time. The police will also connect with local groups on WhatsApp that is likely to act as their “eyes and ears”. “While this system is already operational unofficially, we are planning to make it more systematic and responsive,” a senior Lalbazar officer said.



4.2 magnitude earthquake hits Gujarat’s Kutch



AHMEDABAD: An earthquake of magnitude 4.2 on the Richter scale was registered in parts of Gujarat’s Kutch district on Saturday, an official said. “An earthquake measuring 4.2 on Richter scale was recorded in Kutch district with its epicentre being 15 km from Bhachau,” said an official of Gandhinagar-based Institute of Seismological Research (ISR). The ISR official said that the earthquake was recorded at around 5:14 pm and its epicentre was 15 km north-north east (NNE) of Bhachau town. No casualty or damage to property was reported, the official added.



International News



2 killed, 3 critically injured in NYC helicopter crash

The scene of a helicopter crash in the East River in New York on March 11, 2018.



NEW YORK: A helicopter crashed into New York City’s East River Sunday night and flipped upside down in the water, killing two of the six people aboard and leaving three others in critical condition, officials said. Video taken by a bystander and posted on Twitter shows the red helicopter land hard in the water and then capsize, its rotors slapping at the water. The helicopter, a private charter hired for a photo shoot, went down near Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence. One person, the pilot, freed himself and was rescued by a tugboat, officials said. The passengers were recovered by police and fire department divers, who had to remove them from tight harnesses while they were upside down, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. “It took a while for the drivers to get these people out. They worked very quickly as fast as they could,” Nigro said. “It was a great tragedy that we had here”. Witnesses on a waterfront esplanade near where the aircraft went down said the helicopter was flying noisily, then suddenly dropped into the water and quickly submerged. But the pilot appeared on the surface, holding onto a flotation device as a tugboat and then police boats approached. “It’s cold water. It was sinking really fast,” Mary Lee, 66, told the New York Post. “By the time we got out here, we couldn’t see it. It was underwater”. Celia Skyvaril, 23, told the Daily News that she could see a person on what looked like a yellow raft or float screaming and yelling for help.News footage showed one victim being loaded into an ambulance while emergency workers gave him chest compressions. A bystander, Susan Larkin, told The Associated Press that she went down to see rescue boats in the river and a police helicopter circling overhead, hovering low over the water. “You could clearly see they were searching,” she said.


Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said the Euro copter AS350 went down just after 7 p.m. The aircraft was owned by Liberty Helicopters, a company that offers both private charters and sightseeing tours popular with tourists. A phone message left with the company was not immediately returned. The skies over New York constantly buzz with helicopters carrying tourists, businesspeople, traffic reporters, medical teams and others. Crashes are not unheard of. In 2009, a sightseeing helicopter of the same model and operated by the same company as the one in Sunday’s wreck collided with a small, private plane over the Hudson River, killing nine people, including a group of Italian tourists. A crash in October 2011 in the East River killed a British woman visiting the city for her 40th birthday. Three other passengers were injured. A helicopter on a sightseeing tour of Manhattan crashed into the Hudson River in July 2007, shaking up the eight people aboard but injuring no one. In June 2005, two helicopters crashed into the East River in the same week. One injured eight people including some banking executives. The other hit the water shortly after takeoff on a sightseeing flight, injuring six tourists and the pilot. Nigro and Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the rescue operation Sunday took place in a 4 mph current in water about 50 feet (15 meters) deep, under challenging conditions. The cause of the crash is unknown. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. Officials did not immediately release the names of the pilot or passengers or say how the two passengers died. The helicopter was recovered in the rescue operation and towed to a pier.



Afghan official says Taliban attack kills 15 security forces



KABUL: An Afghan official says at least 15 security forces have been killed in an attack by Taliban fighters in western Farah province. Fared Bakhtawar, head of the provincial council, said Saturday that seven army commandos and eight police are among those 15 killed in Bala Buluk district.  Bakhtawar said three other security forces are missing and more than 30 insurgents were killed in the battle. Gen. Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Defense Ministry, confirmed the attack but said only four soldiers were killed and two wounded. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujhaid claimed responsibility for the attack. In recent months, Farah province has witnessed an increase in attacks by insurgents against security forces and local officials have requested the deployment of more forces in the province.



All 8 passengers killed as private Turkish plane crashes in Iran: Red Crescent



ISTANBUL: All eight passengers were killed on Sunday when a private plane belonging to Turkish firm Basaran Holding crashed in Iran, the head of the Turkish Red Crescent said on Twitter. At least one of the passengers was a member of businessman Huseyin Basaran’s family, Kerem Kinik said. Turkish media earlier reported that Basaran’s daughter and seven of her friends were returning from a hen party in Dubai. She was due to be married next month, DHA news agency and other outlets reported. The plane was also carrying three crew, an official for Turkey‘s transport ministry said.

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