News Flash – 25 January 2018

National News



Banker stole 28 lakhs from ATM to start Mela stalls, held



MUMBAI: A banker who stole Rs 28 lakh from an ATM belonging to his own branch in Andheri (east) has been arrested after an 18-month police chase. Hitesh Pathak (32) was found in the Naxal-hit Garhwa district in Jharkhand, where he had started a fairground stall rental business presumably with the stolen money. Pathak, who hails from UP and holds an MA degree, worked in his bank’s technical department, where he gained the confidence of his senior to work as a cash custodian, said DCP (zone X) Navinchandra Reddy. In that capacity, he was assigned the job of refilling cash in ATMs. On July 26, 2016, he went to refill an ATM in the evening and deliberately created a fault in the machine. The next day he was asked to revisit the ATM to check the fault. He used this opportunity to steal Rs 28 lakh. The ATM room’s CCTV camera recorded him stuffing a bag with cash (which he had filled the machine with just the evening before). An Andheri police team almost zeroed in on Pathak’s location in UP in 2016, but he gave them the slip. A few days ago, he was traced to Garhwa on the basis of his cellphone’s location. A police team led by senior inspector Pandit Thorat kept watch on him for a week before nabbing him on the evening of January 16, when he arrived to get the day’s collection from vendors to whom he had rented out stalls at a fair (Mela).



One killed, three hurt in east Delhi fire



NEW DELHI: A 40-year-old man died while three others suffered burn injuries when a fire broke out in a shop in east Delhi‘s Shakurpur on Wednesday. Fire department officials said that the incident was reported to them around 12.03pm and six fire tenders were sent to the spot. The fire was doused after an hour. During the rescue operation, four people were found with burn injuries and taken to a nearby hospital. Brajesh Kumar Yadav (40), a native of Etah district in Uttar Pradesh, was declared brought dead after suffering extensive burn injuries. Out of the three injured workers, Kanhaiya and Ram Snehi are still critical and undergoing treatment. A preliminary probe has revealed that the fire happened in an ice-cream parlour. An LPG cylinder started leaking when it was being connected to the stove and the fire quickly spread in the shop which is located at the ground floor. Nearby shops in the market were also evacuated as the fire started spreading in the area before it was contained by the fire tenders.



Pricey ATM recalibration makes Rs 200 notes rare



Chennai: Any average city dweller would have noted the availability of only Rs 500 and Rs 100 notes at ATMs whereas the absence of Rs 200 and Rs 2,000 notes would be pronounced. While Rs 200 notes are unavailable because of the slow pace of recalibration of ATM machines, non-availability of Rs 2,000 notes makes them elusive. Bankers say that the new Rs 2,000 notes are in short supply with many of them not receiving the notes even for disbursals within their branches. When it comes to Rs 200 notes, the cost of recalibration per ATM is between Rs 2,500 and Rs 5,000 and banks are shying away from further expense. For ATM operators and banks, costs have shot sky-high since demonetisation and the reduction in note supply. Furthermore, there is a reluctance to push hard for distribution of Rs 200 notes. “The key issue is compensation. In many cases, we have not been paid for the cost of recalibration from November 8, 2016. Once we come to an agreement with banks as to the costs of recalibration, you can see more Rs 200 notes in circulation,” says V Balasubramanian, president, retail payments, FSS.


ATM operators say that up to June 2017, the industry lost Rs 400 crore because of demonetisation. “Media reports that the cost of recalibration would be Rs 1,000 crore, which we feel is exaggerated, has also caused hesitation among banks,” said the head of an ATM service provider. “In November 2016, there was immense pressure put on us by RBI and the government; banks gave us the assurance that costs would be taken care of. We set up war rooms and worked 24X7, but when it came to payments, banks later backed off. For more than five months, they did not pay us and later paid only partially. So given the cost recalibration of Rs 200 notes, which might be a quarter of what we incurred during demonetisation, both banks and ATM operators are going slow,” he added.



Violent protests in NCR ahead of ‘Padmaavat’ release

Firefighters and police try to douse a fire after alleged activists of the Karni Sena torched a Haryana roadways bus at NH-248 during a demonstration against the release of ‘Padmaavat’ in Gurugram on Wednesday.



NEW DELHI/GURGAON/NOIDA: In the name of protecting a queen’s honour, an anti-Padmaavat mob attacked school buses taking children home in Gurgaon on Wednesday afternoon. The violence left at least one school bus badly damaged and scores of kids, who cowered on the floor to shield themselves from bricks flying at the windows and glass shards from shattered bus panes, deeply shocked. At least seven schools in Gurgaon and Noida announced a holiday on Thursday in view of the violence. The attack was the most serious among acts of sporadic violence in parts of Delhi-NCR as Padmaavat hit screens on Wednesday. In the capital, there were three-four minor protests which were quickly contained. No shows were disrupted in any part of the region and saw fairly good attendance. The violence in Gurgaon took on place on the Gurgaon-Alwar highway at Bhondsi. Eyewitnesses said the mob was armed with petrol bombs and also tried to set fire to the school bus, which was thwarted by the police. There were 24 kids and three teachers of GD Goenka World School (Sohna Road) inside the bus. Half an hour earlier, around 3pm, it had stopped a Haryana Roadways bus on the opposite lane and set it on fire, leaving some passengers with minor injuries. The mob was made up mostly of young boys barely 20 years old or a bit older. TOI saw many of them in school uniform or PT (physical training) dresses as they ran amok on a stretch between the local police station and the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) campus. There were only 40 of them but they managed to hold up the entire highway for three hours by letting loose a sudden burst of violence that caught the police by surprise despite a state of high alert being declared 24 hours ago. Police said 24 alleged protesters were detained.


“There were people who were protesting on the road and the cops were trying to disperse them. Suddenly, the mob came from nowhere and started throwing stones at us,” said Pravesh Kumar, who was at the wheel of the GD Goenka school bus (HR55 J3112) and managed to keep driving so that the bus did not become a sitting duck to the mob attack. School authorities confirmed that no student received any injuries. “One of our buses had left the school and was moving towards Gurgaon. Suddenly at Ghamroj, stone pelters threw stones on one of the school bus. While it damaged the windows, all kids and teachers had ducked for cover on the floor. No one was hurt. We immediately called all our buses back. We have decided to observe a holiday tomorrow, seeing the unrest,” said Neeta Bali, principal GD Goenka World School, Sohna Road. In the capital, a group of Karni Sena supporters smashed the windscreen of a few cars parked on the roadside near a cinema hall in Maurya Enclave in northwest Delhi, while another group created a ruckus near a mall in Prashant Vihar on Thursday. They were, however, contained by the police after which they knocked down a few barricades and fled. A group of miscreants also gathered near Alipur in north Delhi where they were again confronted by police and dispersed. A group of them also tried to instigate some school students to stage a protest near Timarpur and managed to block a road for some time. However the situation was brought under control when a police force reached the scene.


The first incident was reported around 11am near the PVR Prashant Vihar when a group of 20-25 demonstrators tried to create a ruckus. However, a police team posted near the hall, chased them away. While fleeing, the men knocked down a few barricades and charged at the onlookers clicking their photographs. Police say security around the hall was increased following this. “We detained a few of them for some time until the others dispersed. They were released later in the evening,” said Rajneesh Gupta, DCP, Rohini. Around 4pm, a group of 100-125 protesters went on a sit-in protest near Rithala Metro station and blocked the road for a while. They tried to convince visitors to the malls to stay away from watching the movie and dispersed around 6pm. A large police force was deployed around the protest venue to prevent the protesters from creating a ruckus. The third incident was reported from near a PVR cinema hall near Maurya Enclave in northwest Delhi, where a group of miscreants claiming to be from the Karni Sena, smashed the rear windshields of four vehicles parked outside the movie hall. They had fled before the locals could chase them. Police say that a case under sections of causing damage to property was registered based on the complaint by the car owners.


“We have registered a case and are trying to identify the miscreants. Some of the CCTV footages from the areas are being scanned,” said Aslam Khan, DCP, north-west. At Alipur, some miscreants on motorbike tried to park their vehicles on the road and stage a protest but were pushed out of the area by a police team. Violence at a few places marred the otherwise peaceful screenings of Padmaavat movie at in Noida and Ghaziabad amid heightened security around cinemas and on main roads. However, there was no screening of the movie in Greater Noida as Omaxe mall at Pari Chowk cancelled the shows at the last minute, fearing protests and violence. In Noida’s Barolla village, a group of men attacked a UP roadways bus and smashed its window panes, demanding a ban on the movie. The protesters also tried to set the bus on fire but the driver managed to speed away. The bus was going from Phase II to Sector 37 bus depot when the incident took place. Some passengers received minor injuries as the protesters smashed its windshield glasses. They fled the spot before cops arrived.



Hijack at airport! AAI security exercise puts staff on high alert



CHENNAI: Airports Authority of India (AAI) reviewed security procedures and the results of an anti-hijack drill to plug shortfalls at an aerodrome committee meeting held on Tuesday. Sources said that the outcome of the drill and the impact on security were discussed and instructions were given to the agencies to improve vigil. The drill is a mock exercise which is conducted annually and is aimed at testing the preparedness of various agencies which would be involved in a situation wherein a hijacked aircraft lands at the airport. The review looked at negotiation skills, reaction time of the force and also the preparedness of fire and rescue services and others, said an official. He also said that the meeting also looked at the contingency plan of the airport in handling emergency situations. Central Industrial Security Force, airport officials, airport fire and rescue services, state police personnel, ambulance service and other agencies participate in this drill. In view of Republic Day, which is considered a high-risk situation, the security at airport entries and pre-embarkations has been enhanced by Bureau of Civil Aviation Security. Visitors’ entry to terminals has been closed till the end of the month.



International News



Turkish border town hit by rockets, 13 wounded: Governor



ANKARA: Two rockets fired from the Syrian region of Afrin struck the Turkish border town of Kilis on Wednesday, wounding 13 people, the local governor said. The rockets hit two locations in the city centre, including a mosque during prayer times, Governor Mehmet Tekinarslan said. Eight people were wounded, with two in critical condition, at the mosque, and another five injured at the second location. Turkish media footage showed security forces clearing the areas of civilians following the attacks, as ambulances and emergency teams arrived at the site. As Turkey‘s operation against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin entered its fifth day, several rockets have hit the Turkish border towns of Kilis and Reyhanli. On Saturday, as Turkey started its operation, rockets fired across the border hit Reyhanli, killing a Syrian national and wounding 46 people, the local governor’s office said. Another five were wounded when rockets hit Kilis, a Reuters witness said.



Toll rises to 35 dead in Benghazi car bombing, say medics

A damaged fruit shop is seen at the site of twin car bombs in Benghazi, Libya on January 24, 2018.



BENGHAZI: The toll from a twin car bombing in Libya‘s eastern city of Benghazi rose to 35 on Wednesday, with about 60 people wounded, medical officials said. The first blast on Tuesday evening hit worshippers leaving a mosque in Benghazi’s central Al Salmani district. The second, about 15 minutes later, inflicted a large number of casualties among people who had gathered at the scene. Senior security officials were among the casualties. The toll was one of the highest from a single attack since Libya slid into turmoil after the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Benghazi is controlled by the Libyan National Army(LNA), which is led by powerful eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar and was battling Islamists and other opponents in the port city until late last year.



Magnitude 6.4 quake hits Japan: USGS



TOKYO: An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck off Japan on Wednesday, the United States Geological Survey said. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the quake, which hit 103 km (64 miles) northeast of the island of Honshu, at a depth of 64 km (40 miles).

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