News Flash – 26 February 2018

National News



Card fraud at ATM: Malad man loses 1 lakh to con artist



MUMBAI: Tricksters have come up with a new modus operandi of stealing cards from people visiting bank ATMs. Malad (east) resident Geharilal Gujjar (32) became the latest victim when the unidentified man convinced him to hand over his ATM card to show how it can be operated even if it is not linked with Aadhaar details. Kurar police probing the case registered an FIR on Friday after they gathered information related to the fraud after they received a written application from Gujjar on February 2. Police has got hold of the closed-circuit television (CCTV) that grabbed the accused image. On pretext of showing the trick the accused managed to exchange Gujjar’s State Bank of India debit card with similar one. Later Gujjar learnt Rs1 lakh has been withdrawn from his card. Gujjar was tricked at around 1.30 pm when he visited the bank’s ATM at Shutti Nursing Home in Kurar village, Malad (East). In the complaint, Gujjar said, “A man was already present in the ATM when I went to withdraw money. The accused engaged me with his talks and told he knows how to use the card if it gets deactivated if the Aadhaar card is not linked”. A police officer of the Kurar police station said the accused on pretext of helping the victim to operate the card managed to get hold of the card PIN when Gujjar entered in the machine to withdraw money.



Five injured in house collapse incident at Wadala


MUMBAI: Five persons injured after a ground plus one structure collapsed at Antop Hill area in Wadala on Saturday. They were taken to the hospital and few of them were discharged after the treatment said BMC disaster control room. The incident took place at Sangam Nagar area around 4 pm, when the upper portion of the structure collapsed. Five persons were trapped in debris including three minors. Neighbours removed one the minor safely and took him to hospital before arrival for the fire brigade. Fire Brigade sent five fire engines along with a rescue van and ambulance at the spot for operation. With the help of locals, firemen removed other four persons trapped in the debris. One Mohammad Salim Sheikh (46) and Bhavesh Prajapati (9) sustained body and internal head injuries. They are recuperating in Sion Hospital. Bhavesh’s mother Kesardevi Prajapati (34) along with her two other kids, Jitesh (13) and Jigar (6), has sustained bruise injury in the incident. They were discharge from the hospital after the treatment.



Oriental Bank of Commerce fraud: Delhi Jewellers fled India in 2014, CBI says



NEW DELHI: The CBI on Saturday said the directors of city-based jewellery outlet Dwarka Das Seth International had fled from India along with their family members sometime in 2014, much before Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) approached the agency with a complaint of fraud worth Rs 390 crore against them. Agency sources admitted that they did not lodge the FIR immediately after the bank approached them with their complaint in August 2017. As per the CVC guidelines, the probe agency is supposed to register an FIR immediately in cases of frauds on public sector banks involving Rs one crore and above. Sources, however, explained that the agency did immediately conduct a public scrutiny, especially against the alleged kingpin, Sabhya Seth, but the matter had to be put on the back-burner after he and his accomplices could not be found at their respective addresses. The disclosure of the timing when the scam happened suggests that the fraud was perpetrated before the Modi government took office: something which may have a bearing on the escalating fight between BJP and Congress over the scams. The two parties have skirmished over PNB fraud and Congress on Saturday blamed BJP for embezzlement from Oriental Bank of Commerce. CBI is now planning to approach Interpol for notices against all the accused directors – Sabhya Seth, Reeta Seth, Krishna Kumar Singh and Ravi Kumar Singh – and question all those who were connected with the company’s business activities here. TOI first reported the fraud on Saturday.


A retired CBI officer said, “OBC should have approached CBI in 2014 itself when the account of Dwarka Das Seth International was declared non-performing asset (NPA) and owners were untraceable. Instead, they waited for three years and filed a complaint in August 2017. CBI has often red-flagged rising cases of bank fraud and delay in identifying and reporting such frauds, which allows the borrowers to siphon off funds or flee before investigations are taken up.” “Nonetheless, an FIR should have been registered in August 2017 when OBC approached the CBI,” said the officer. About the present location of Sabhya Seth, sources said he is most likely in Dubai. TOI spoke to Rishi Bahl, a financial consultant who was once taken by Sabhya Seth to Connaught Place branch of OBC claiming that they knew each other for long. But Bahl told TOI, “I don’t know Sabhya Seth very well. He had approached me for consultancy on taking loan.” The bank, which had the last contact with Sabhya Seth in March 2014, has claimed that he availed credit facilities between 2007 and 2012 in the form of Letters of Credit (LC) for making payments to other trade creditors against the purchase of gold and other precious stones.



Bomb scare: GRP trips, takes 12 hours to call it a hoax

It took several hours for the bomb disposal squad to reach Khammam from Secunderabad



HYDERABAD: A bomb scare in Bhubaneswar-bound Konark Express sent the government railway police in a tizzy at Khammam station in Telangana on Saturday. Though the suspicious object was detected around 9am, it took several hours for the bomb disposal squad to reach Khammam from Secunderabad. This triggered further tension as officials feared the bag could contain explosives. It is not clear whether Vijayawada, the biggest railway junction in South India, does not have a bomb squad as authorities requisitioned services from Secunderabad. At 10.30pm, it was declared a hoax. Earlier, panic gripped passengers on board the coach S-11 of No 11020 Konark Express after they spotted an unclaimed bag in the compartment near Madhira railway station, which is located between Warangal and Khammam stations and falls under Secunderabad division of SCR.


The train departed Mumbai station on Friday. However, panic-stricken passengers alerted railway police immediately after they saw the bag. Sources said cops cordoned off the compartment as soon as the train chugged into Khammam station. Officials of Railway Protection Force (RPF) and government railway police (GRP) rushed to the spot with sniffer dogs and launched a search in the train. They did not find any explosive. They, however, found a plastic box inside the handbag. At 10.30pm, it was declared a hoax, according to sources. Uma Shankar Kumar, chief public relations officer of SCR said, “We came to know about a suspicious object in the S-11 coach of Konark Express that was going to Bhubaneswar. Though many passengers panicked that a bomb may have been stashed inside, it turned out to be a paint box. After a search, the train resumed its journey”.



Sea-level rise in 30 years a threat to Chennai



Chennai: It may seem unbelievable, but there is a very good chance that one day the lively coast of Tamil Nadu will no longer be there. This is not a doomsday scenario conjured up by those who see gloom and doom everywhere, but a very stark reality staring us in the face. Thousands of fishermen communities, fancy resorts and restaurants, corporate firms, and the street hawkers may fade into oblivion 30 years from now, say experts and researchers, who are tirelessly working on ways to minimise the loss due to calamities arising out of global warming. The international scientific community report that there is a possibility that by 2050, we could see three mm of sea level rise (SLR). According to the report, the high-risk areas are in the districts of Thiruvallur, Chennai, Kanchipuram, Villupuram, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram, Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari. Areas below 5m are at risk in all these coastal districts where the future storm surge is expected to go above 4.96mm, the report adds. At a recent seminar, Sudhir Chella Rajan, project scientist at Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS), who also teaches at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT-Madras, warned that such events are likely to happen 30 years from now. “It’s not a prediction or forecast. We are projecting scenarios about the possible future climate change and sea-level rise. Based on the Paleoclimate Records (study of changes in climate taken on the scale of the entire history of earth), we had earlier thought it would be a 1m sea-level rise by 2050, but it’s not going to be so; it will be 3m rise. These are very important issues to be stressed upon,” says Rajan.


So, is there a way we can reduce the destruction? Rajan says that 30 years is a good amount of time to plan. “The government bodies and public need to understand the vulnerable parts of coasts, what investment should be made, or should we think about retreat, or should we think about organising certain ways of life on the coast. Like in Chennai, we have Ennore creeks, Adyar Estuary and Adyar Eco Park, these are valuable ecosystem and we need to protect them. We can look at three types of options — one is based of engineering solution, the second is preserve natural ecosystem, and the third is retreat. In India, we have not done any analysis like this yet, but in the UK, the Netherlands and in Bangladesh, it’s already been done and they are working towards it,” he adds. Low-lying coastal areas, encroachment and construction on the lake and river beds are under serious threat. “Areas like Velachery are vulnerable, but somehow, permission was given to construct buildings in those areas, which is wrong. We don’t have to wait for 30 years to see such regions being destroyed; it will happen in two years. If the ice in Greenland and Antarctica melts, the average sea-level will be 120 metres. But nobody is expecting that to happen because climate change is a slow process. Things will happen slowly, but in 30 years, the threat is going to be real,” he explains.


Dr Robert J Nicholls, Professor of Coastal Engineering, University of Southampton, England, who has been working with Jadavpur University on West Bengal and Mahanadi coasts, explains, “Sea level rose 15-20 cm during the 20th century and is currently rising at 3mm per year based on satellite observations. Continued warming will lead to much larger rises and one meter or more is plausible by the end of the century”. All coastal low-lying areas are threatened by increased flooding, more erosion, degradation of habitats and salinisation. With a long coast and dense population, India is highly threatened, says Robert. “In 2000, 66 million Indians (or 6.27% of national population) lived below 10m elevation. These people are not all immediately threatened by sea-level rise, but it shows that the relevant populations are large. The deltas along the Bay of Bengal, where cyclones can strike (examples include West Bengal, including Kolkata, and the Mahanadi delta) are at greater risk,” he says. Sea level rise is relatively slow and accumulates — disasters are generally brought on by extreme events like cyclones, but rising sea levels make them worse. But man-made dunes may help shield the beaches from rising sea and coastal storms. Dr Robert adds, “The Dutch North Sea coast is protected by dunes, so this can work, but we need enough space for the dunes and they need to be maintained. Further, as sea levels rise, the land behind the dunes may still become submerged. In general, adapting to sea-level rise will require a systemic approach and a single measure is unlikely to be successful”.



International News



UN Security Council unanimously backs Syria ceasefire



UNITED NATIONS: With Russia’s backing, the UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously backed a 30-day ceasefire in Syria to allow for humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations. The resolution demanding the ceasefire “without delay” was adopted as Syrian government forces pounded the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta.



6 months after attacks began, Rohingya see no end in sight


DHAKA: Their houses are often made of plastic sheets. Much of their food comes from aid agencies. Jobs are few, and there is painfully little to do. The nightmares are relentless. But six months after their horrors began, the Rohingya Muslims who fled army attacks in Myanmar for refuge in Bangladesh feel one immense consolation. “Nobody is coming to kill us, that’s for sure,” said Mohammed Amanullah, whose village was destroyed last year just before he left for Bangladesh with his wife and three children. They now live in the Kutup along refugee camp outside the coastal city of Cox’s Bazar. “We have peace here”. On Aug. 25, Rohingya insurgents attacked several security posts in Myanmar, killing at least 14 people. Within hours, waves of revenge attacks broke out, with the military and Buddhist mobs marauding through Rohingya villages in bloody pogroms, killing thousands, raping women and girls, and burning houses and whole villages. The aid group Doctors Without Borders has estimated at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in Myanmar in the first month of the violence, including at least 730 children younger than 5. The survivors flooded into Bangladesh. Six months later, there are few signs Rohingya are going home anytime soon. Myanmar and Bangladesh have signed an agreement to gradually repatriate Rohingya in “safety, security and dignity,” but the process has been opaque and the dangers remain. New satellite images have shown empty villages and hamlets leveled, erasing evidence of the Rohingyas’ former lives. And with 700,000 having fled Myanmar since August, more Rohingya continue to flee.


So for now, the refugees wait. “If they agree to send us back that’s fine, but is it that easy?” asked Amanullah. “Myanmar must give us citizenship. That is our home. Without citizenship they will torture us again. They will kill us again”. He said he would only return under the protection of U.N. peacekeepers: “They must take care of us there. Otherwise it will not work”. Buddhist-majority Myanmar doesn’t recognize the Rohingya as an official ethnic group and they face intense discrimination and persecution. The children in the camps face a particularly difficult time. The U.N. estimates children are the heads of 5,600 refugee families. A survey of children’s lives inside the camps showed they faced an array of terrors, from girls reporting concerns of harassments near the camp toilets to fears that elephants and snakes could attack them as they collect firewood. “We cannot expect Rohingya children to overcome the traumatic experiences they’ve suffered when exposed to further insecurity and fears of violence in the camps,” Mark Pierce, country director for Save the Children in Bangladesh, said in a statement. The study was prepared jointly by Save the Children, World Vision and Plan International. “The overwhelming message from these children is that they are afraid,” Pierce said. “This is no way for a child to live”. The situation will worsen soon. Seasonal monsoon rains will begin pounding the refugees’ plastic-and-bamboo city in April.

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