News Flash – 28 February 2018

National News



Rs 2.3 crore “Stolen” from ATMs in west Delhi



NEW DELHI: In what could be the biggest cash heist from ATMs in the last few years, investigations have begun in a case in which at least Rs 2.3 crore was “stolen” from several ATMs in west Delhi. A case was filed on Tuesday evening at Janakpuri police station by the firm that replenished cash in the ATMs. Two employees of the firm who have been absent from duty since February 24 are the prime suspects. DCP (west) Vijay Kumar confirmed the developments to TOI. Senior officials of the firm told police that the employees were given a call when they didn’t report to work, but their phones were found switched off. The scam came to the fore during an audit on Monday when logs of the machine’s vaults were analysed by the cash firm, sources said. An internal inquiry was conducted and it unraveled the misappropriation. The suspects targeted at least eight ATMs and siphoned cash over a period of time, a preliminary probe has indicated. The staffers had been tasked with keeping account of the cash on a particular route and had access to the codes and keys to the cash vaults of those ATMs. It is learnt that most of the ATMs were of government banks.


Sources said that the suspects may have connived with cash custodians of another private firm and some outsiders to siphon the cash. Police have sought details of all sister firms from the company that lodged the complaint. CCTV footage showed the prime suspects walking out of their Janakpuri office, but without any bags. Cops are also analysing their call records to ascertain the identity of their accomplices. It is suspected that the duo has fled the city with the cash. Other employees are also being quizzed. In 2017, many cases of thefts at ATMs had come to the fore. In most cases, employees of the cash replenishing firm were the perpetrators. In September 2017, several ATMs in Malviya Nagar and adjoining areas were targeted in which the suspects fled with over Rs 35 lakh. They had been stealing cash after demonetisation when ATMs were being recalibrated for new currency notes. The miscreants had tried to pass off the theft as a technical glitch. Similarly, an employee of a cash replenishment firm fled from Ambience Mall in Gurgaon with Rs 1 crore that was to be put into ATMs. A similar incident was reported from Shakarpur in east Delhi as well where the ATM custodian fled with around Rs 9 lakh.



32 CCTV cameras in Metro subway, but none covers attack spot on stairs


MUMBAI: A south Mumbai college student was accosted and flashed at by a man in the Metro cinema subway last Friday. The girl complained to the college principal, who has now written to the BMC and police authorities about it. It is the third such molestation incident in the subway that students have reported, the principal said. “It is our sincere request that action be initiated to put an end to this menace immediately. Please do not compel our students to once again make a petition to the state government authorities and to the press,” states the letter. “We have registered an FIR under sections 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) and 509 (gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC against unknown persons. We are now looking for the accused,” said Manoj Shama, the zonal DCP. When TOI contacted the principal, he said with such security concerns, the students are taking the risk of crossing the busy junction on the ground level. “This is a real nightmare for the students. Currently, since examinations are on, we do not want to get involved, but in case of no action being taken, we may need to petition the chief minister,” said the principal. The BMC said CCTV cameras have been placed in the subway at a cost of Rs 11.7 lakh after such incidents in the past.


“There are 32 cameras in the nine passages. However, when we checked the footage, the incident could not be traced. We have encouraged the college authorities to file a complaint with the police. We too have sought help from the local police,” said Kiran Dighavkar, the assistant municipal commissioner of A ward. It is being said that none of the cameras cover the staircase where the incident occurred. The principal too mentioned that the CCTVs do not seem to have deterred the antisocial elements. On Tuesday when TOI visited the spot, there was only one guard on duty monitoring the CCTV feed. He said five guards patrol the subway till 9.30pm, but several were not around since duty hours had changed and they had not arrived yet. “We are collecting information about the suspect and trying to find out who loiter in the area. We will soon zero in on the suspect,” said a police official. He ruled that the BMC had not given them access to the subway cameras. Times View: The incident underscores the need for more vigilance in public places, especially subways and gardens where movement of people may be sporadic and which remain isolated at certain times of the day. In the immediate instance, the agency responsible for upkeep and security is BMC, which should ask its guards to be more attentive and secondly, provide better lighting to make pedestrians feel more secure.



Smoke in CM’s copter identified by a Security Guard



HYDERABAD: Smoke from a luggage bag in the helicopter carrying chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao sent his security men into a tizzy on Tuesday. A Security Guard noticed the smoke and immediately put it out. Director-general of police M Mahinder Reddy said an inquiry has been ordered into the incident. KCR was going from Karimnagar to Mummuru village in Adilabad in a helicopter after participating in a meeting of farmers when one of the officials accompanying him noticed smoke emanating from a bag. The bag was part of the luggage of the security personnel accompanying the CM. The security official immediately offloaded the bag and threw it after running about 100 metres away from the helicopter. Luckily, the helicopter had not taken off when smoke was noticed. The CM proceeded to Adilabad and later to Mancheryal where he addressed farmers and Singareni workers. The exact cause of smoke is not clear but it is suspected that the bag contained battery for a very high frequency (VHF) wireless set. Overheating of the equipment may have led to the fire. Soon after the incident, the DGP’s office clarified that there was no technical snag in the helicopter.



42 lakh bikes jam Chennai, 1 in 2 people has one


CHENNAI: There has been a virtual explosion of two-wheelers in Tamil Nadu, mainly Chennai, which is struggling to cope with the 42 lakh bikes on its roads. The city now has the third largest number of bikes in the country after New Delhi (67 lakhs in March 2017) and Bengaluru (50 lakhs in January 2018). From 18 lakh in 2009, the bike population in Chennai — which is home to 85 lakh people — had jumped threefold in nine years. Across Tamil Nadu, there has been a 25 % hike in the sales of two-wheelers this January compared to the same time period last year, show government records accessed by TOI. The registration of motorcycles, mopeds and scooters in regional transport offices (RTOs) across Tamil Nadu rose from 1.18 lakh in January 2017 to 1.5 lakh in January 2018, says data. This figure is expected to increase further later this week as the Amma two-wheeler subsidy scheme, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 24, gains ground. Nearly 9,500 bikes are set to be registered this week, say sources in the transport department. While the increase in government bus fares, and the hike received by government employees under the Seventh Pay Commission are cited as reasons for the recent jump is two-wheeler sales, the subsidy scheme is thought to be the big attraction. Increments raised sales of 2-wheeler, Under the scheme, the government provides 50 % of the vehicle cost or 25,000 for working women.


Thousands of women who applied for the scheme booked vehicles in the hope that they might be among the lucky ones, said a senior transport department official. Besides, many regular users of government buses, particularly those residing in Chennai’s suburbs, have shifted to bikes, seeing them as a more affordable mode of transport, said K Anbazhgan of Nethaji transport Union. Ambattur resident R Swapna who made the switchover said that after the recent bus fare hike it cost at least100 every day for her husband and herself to travel to their offices located in the city via MTC buses and get back home. “The travel cost comes down by as much as 40%-50 % when we use a two-wheeler,” she said. The state government in January increased MTC fares by up to 67% and reduced services along key routes following to cut losses faced by the transport corporation. The exponential increase in the sales of two-wheelers is also attributed to the rise in salaries of state government employees after the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations. Retired staff received a lump sum in arrears. “Many would have bought two-wheelers soon after the bus fare hike came into effect as festive offers were also round the corner,” said R Rajakumar, a former water supply department employee.



Thieves target ATM in Bhadaj



AHMEDABAD: A manager of a cash management firm has filed a complaint with Sola police for an ATM on Bhadaj Road being tampered with. The would-be thieves had tried to break the ATM but could not access the cash box. According to Sola police, Minesh Mehta, a resident of Vejalpur, is a manager with a cash management firm. At 5.30am on February 26, he got a call about tampering with an SBI ATM at Kesarbhuvan Complex. When he reached the spot, he found the ATM’s outer layer broken and the CCTV camera installed in the kiosk taken outside. “The tampering was reported when a sanitation worker had come to the complex at 4.45am. He saw the ATM’s light was not on and suspected something suspicious. He called the city police control room. The ATM was found to be functioning normally till 10pm the previous night,” said an official.



International News



Air strikes and rockets hit Syria enclave despite truce



BEIRUT: A fledgling “humanitarian pause” announced by Russia in Syria‘s rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta was rattled on Tuesday by fresh air strikes and rocket fire, several sources said. “Fighting continues this morning. That is what our reports from Eastern Ghouta tell us,” a spokesman for the UN humanitarian office, Jens Laerke, told reporters in Geneva, adding that it was premature to discuss any relief operations for desperate civilians given the persisting clashes. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported air raids, including the dropping of two barrel bombs, as well as rocket fire, while state media accused rebel forces of shelling humanitarian corridors to keep civilians hostage. The Britain-based Observatory said two barrel bombs — crude, improvised munitions that cause indiscriminate damage – on the Shaifuniyah area of Eastern Ghouta. Rockets were also fired on several areas in the enclave but the head of the Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, said no deaths were immediately reported as a result of the fresh violence.


The toll for the deadly blitz against Eastern Ghouta continued to mount nonetheless when five bodies were found in the rubble of destroyed buildings, he said. A woman also died on Tuesday when the roof of her home, damaged by earlier bombardment, gave in and collapsed on her, an AFP correspondent in the main town of Douma reported. The Syrian state news agency SANA also accused the rebels of firing several rockets on the path of the corridor declared by Russia to allow for the evacuation of civilians. It specifically accused the former Al-Qaeda affiliate present in some parts of the enclave of trying to prevent civilians from leaving “to use them as human shields”. The latest violence rattled the first five-hour pause that is due to take place daily, according to the terms of a deal announced by Russia yesterday. The violence remained significantly lower than at any point since February 18, when Syria and Russian forces intensified their bombardment of Eastern Ghouta.

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