News Flash – 4 August 2018

National News



Two held for siphoning off ATM cash



New Delhi: Police have seized Rs 76 lakh from two employees of a cash replenishment firm who had siphoned off Rs 1.72 crore cash they were supposed to load in ATMs in west Delhi. TOI had reported about the heist two days ago. During interrogation, the employees disclosed that they were supposed to withdraw the cash from various banks and keep in their vault at Rajouri Garden, DCP (west) Vijay Kumar said. “From the vault, the money was entrusted to various employees for filling ATMs of various banks,” he added. Senior officials of the logistics firm approached police after they conducted an internal audit of their ATMs and found a large amount of cash missing. During inquiry, it was found that the employees, Manish and Satpal, were designated to recalibrate 14 ATMs located in west and northwest Delhi. They had withdrawn Rs 1.7 crore from the vaults on July 27.


Cops found that the two were in possession of passwords for 14 ATMs and had not deposited approximately Rs 1.2 crore in 10 of them. They had even taken out approximately Rs 50 lakh from a few other machines. The deposited Rs 72 lakh in the ATMs’ cash boxes and returned Rs 9 lakh into the vault and kept the keys of the cash trunk to avoid surveillance. After the audit revealed the fraud the company officials contacted Satpal, but he told them that he had gone to Agra to visit his family. Manish’s phone was switched off and he didn’t turn up for work. A probe showed that Manish was also an accused in a case of possessing an illegal pistol. When police contacted his family, they were told that he was unwell. However, they got to know that he had been arrested in Bindapur in the Arms Act case. He was arrested in this case as well. He led the cops to Satpal.



UIDAI helpline no. pops up in phones, courtesy Google


New Delhi: Nobody knew where it came from, but there it was. Millions of mobile phone users found an unexpected intruder in their phone contact list on Friday — an invalid Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) toll-free number. Late at night, Google issued a statement saying that an internal review had revealed that the number, 18003001947, and the distress helpline number 112, were “inadvertently coded into the Setup wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and remained there since”. Users can manually delete the number, it added. Google’s statement put to rest a fresh controversy that had erupted involving Aadhaar, with Android phone users wondering how a number could enter their phone book without their consent. As the controversy raged, UIDAI and telecom operators denied any role in the matter. Sources in Apple and Google, the companies that own Android and iOS—the two most widely used mobile operating systems—denied any role and promised a probe. After the initial denial, Google’s review solved the mystery. The issue first came to light on Friday when several mobile phone users uploaded images of UIDAI’s defunct toll-free helpline (18003001947) in their contact list on social media. Amidst fresh privacy concerns, the government swung into action with IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad convening a review meeting. As outrage and criticism built up on Friday, UIDAI denied reports that it had issued any instruction to add this number to mobile phones. It termed the number appearing on the contact list as “invalid”, saying its toll-free number is ‘1947’ and not the one on their phonebook. “UIDAI has not asked or communicated to any manufacturer or service provider for providing any such facility. Some vested interests are trying to create unwarranted confusion in the public,” it said.


“UIDAI has reiterated it hasn’t asked or advised anyone, including any telecom service providers or mobile makers or Android, to include 18003001947 or 1947 in the default list of public service numbers,” the statement said. Aadhaar CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told TOI that the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) had started an investigation into the issue. This is the second row involving Aadhaar in just over a week. Last week, TRAI chairman RS Sharma was trolled after making his Aadhaar number public, and throwing a challenge to hackers to “cause harm”. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) too washed its hands off the row. “The inclusion of a certain unknown number in the phonebooks is not from any telecom service provider,” COAI said in a statement. An unverified official release issued by the telecom department in 2013 also surfaced on social media. It informed all mobile operators to “map short code ‘1947’ to UIDAI’s toll-free number 18003001947 with immediate effect and send compliance to UIDAI directly”. A Google spokesperson said: “Our internal review has revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the Setup wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since. Since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device. We are sorry for any concern that this might have caused, and would like to assure everyone that this is not a situation of an unauthorised access of their Android devices. We will work towards fixing this in an upcoming release of Setup wizard, which will be made available to OEMs over the next few weeks”.



From Sept 1, travel again on Chembur-Wadala monorail


Mumbai: Monorail services between Chembur and Wadala depot will resume from September 1, while services on the Wadala-Jacob Circle corridor will be opened for commuters by February 2019, said officials of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). Services were operational on the 8.8km Chembur-Wadala depot stretch since February 2014, but they were discontinued after a fire gutted two coaches on November 9, 2017. MMRDA had planned to open the entire route and even got safety clearance in April, but due to technical and logistical issues, was unable to do so, said officials. “We will reopen Phase-I of the monorail from September 1, and the entire corridor up to Jacob Circle by January or February,” confirmed Dilip Kawathkar, MMRDA joint project director. Kawathkar added that they might run a few services till Jacob Circle by January, if they get two more rakes by December. MMRDA officials said that they will charge the old rates—Rs 5, Rs 7, Rs 9 and Rs 11—on the Chembur-Wadala depot corridor though revised fares have been approved. The revised fares are in four slabs: Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 30 and Rs 40.


MMRDA expects around two lakh commuters a day once the entire monorail stretch is operational. The 8.8km Phase-I corridor had a daily ridership of Rs 15,000. The project cost of the entire 20-km monorail corridor has increased by Rs 236 crore due to delays, said officials. MMRDA has 10 Monorakes of which around five are not in working condition. The authority has asked the operator, L&T-Scomi, to repair the balance four rakes. Scomi has assured that it will soon deliver five more rakes. “Since we do not have adequate rakes, there is no hope of running the services on the entire corridor in the next couple of months,” said a MMRDA official. In April, monorail had received safety clearance with a rider that adequate spare parts for rolling stock, installation of mirrors on platforms for drivers to see if all passengers have boarded, and temperature gauges in coaches following the fire, be in place before running services on the 20-km stretch.



Feeds from 5,500 cams, 30 calls at same time


New Delhi: Delhi Metro’s security network has been further strengthened with Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) inaugurating a new operational control centre at Shastri Park on Friday. The new facility is capable of receiving live CCTV feed from over 5,500 cameras and will also house the helpline control room, officials said. The centre was inaugurated by CISF director general Rajesh Ranjan in the presence of DMRC managing director Mangu Singh. The day also saw the launch of a new CISF helpline number – 155655. The control room is now capable of handling up to 30 calls at the same time. “At present, we can receive four calls at a time, but this will be increased up to 30. With both the helpline and the control room under one roof, emergency action and deploying quick reaction teams will be easier,” said a senior CISF official. Ranjan said the next step in evolving the control room will be to look at the possibility of video analytics software that can automatically scan surveillance footage, thus reducing the load on CISF personnel.


“This control room is a strong additional layer of security alongside the surveillance at metro stations and is capable of ensuring swift action. In the future, we want to introduce video analytics as manually scanning footage has a chance of error,” Ranjan told TOI. An official said the new Phase-III stations will all be added to this control room, apart from monitoring over 100 stations that fall under the Yellow, Red, Pink and Magenta lines. Some of the older stations will continue to be monitored at CISF’s other control room at Barakhamba Road. “This control room is capable of monitoring the entire DMRC network and all the new stations will be added here. The idea is to ensure that swift action is taken from our end on any incident that takes place in the metro network,” said a senior CISF official. CISF’s new training block – Kavach — was also inaugurated at the same complex on Friday. It is equipped with an X-BIS simulator and capable of providing training to 140 personnel at a time.



Cops catch ATM thieves red-handed



New Delhi: Two PCR van personnel prevented an ATM robbery in the early hours of Friday. The two cops on patrol noticed shadows inside the ATM in northeast Delhi’s Yamuna Vihar after which they decided to check it and found two men with equipment tearing apart the vault of the ATM. Seeing the cops, they tried to flee but the cops chased them on the streets for a kilometer before they caught and arrested them. DCP PCR S D Mishra said that the incident happened when a patrolling team noticed a group of youths near the ATM near B-block. Seeing the cops, they started running, leaving behind a scooter. The cops chased the men and caught up with them and while being questioned, they admitted to have tried to break into the ATM. They were taken back to the ATM booth and during inspection, cops found that the electric wires of the alarm system were disconnected and the lock of the battery room was broken. During a search, cops recovered a plier and a hammer from them. It was found that they had removed the wires from the camera installed in the booth and the alarm wires, but could not break open the chamber of the ATM in which the cash was kept as it gets automatically sealed if anyone attempts to break in. The men were identified as Deepak and Rakesh. The two cops from the PCR team have been rewarded. A case of theft has been registered.



CCTV cams must for commercial establishments



Bengaluru: Commercial establishments with a daily footfall of 500 will have to install CCTV cameras on their premises, according to a circular issued by the police department. Besides commercial establishments, CCTV cameras are mandatory at religious places, educational institutions, hospitals, sports complexes, industries, railway and bus stations if they have a congregation of over 100 people gathering at a time or over 500 people frequenting them daily. Shop owners failing to comply could attract penalty of Rs 5,000 for the first month and Rs 10,000 for the second. Temporary sealing and closure of the establishment is included in the penal action. The circular added that the equipment should have access control through physical and technical means. The establishments should use cameras with a provision of storage of video footage for 30 days.



Gang breaks into ATM’s, makes off with Rs. 30 lakhs


Howrah: Two State Bank of India ATMs in Howrah’s Liluah were broken into between Thursday night and the early hours of Friday and miscreants made off with Rs 30 lakh. The ATMs, one at Liluah’s Jagadishpur and the other at Kona’s Tetultala, had defunct CCTVs and no private security guards, cops said. The break in was noticed around 7am on Friday when customers found the machines cut open and empty of cash. After speaking with the bank officials, cops said around Rs 18 lakh had been looted from the Jagadishpur ATM and Rs 12 lakh was stolen from the one at Tetultala. On inspecting the ATMs, located 4.5km apart, sleuths said it was evident that gas cutters had been used to cut open the machines. The assigned agency of the bank had deposited cash at both ATMs on Thursday evening. Both cops and locals said there had been an attempt to break into the ATM at Jagadishpur six months ago. But the sound of gas cutters woke up shop owners who stay at Jagadishpur bazaar. They had rushed out, but the miscreants managed to flee. However, heavy rain on Thursday night apparently helped the gang carry out their operations smoothly.


“Since the attempt six months ago, we have been repeatedly requesting the bank officials to install private security guards and repair CCTV cameras at both ATMs. We had also requested them to install hidden CCTV cameras atop lampposts opposite the ATMs. Initially, the bank officials said they would do so within three months. But when the bank did neither, we again pursued the matter. The officials kept telling us they would inform their higher authorities every time we reminded them over the last three months,” said one of the local residents. Howrah City Police DCDD Ranendranath Banerjee said, “We have got some clues and an inter-state gang seems to be behind the break ins. We have collected what seem to be similar four-wheeler tyre casts from roads in front of both ATMs. A forensic team will inspect both premises”. A senior SBI official said, “We can’t comment on the law-and-order situation. An FIR has been lodged by SBI and money in ATMs is always insured.” Asked about the lack of security and alleged defunct CCTVs, the official said, “It is not feasible to appoint private security agencies for all ATMs. We are looking into whether the CCTVs were operative or not”.



All passengers rescued from Andaman’s Ship

A child on board MV Swaraj Dweep is brought to safety.



Kolkata: The remaining 101 passengers of MV Swaraj Dweep were successfully rescued by Coast Guard on Friday and taken to Car Nicobar. The ship, with its 93-member crew on board, has undergone temporary repairs and will leave for Port Blair from its present location at the Car Nicobar anchorage on Saturday. “There were several women and children among the passengers. On Friday, our primary aim was to get the women and children to safety. By the time we succeeded moving 149 passengers to Car Nicobar, the weather was deteriorating. Though the ship was stabilized, we didn’t want passengers to spend the night on it, in case of any complications. The remaining 101 passengers were shifted to another vessel MV Ocean Marvel that was anchored nearby,” a senior Coast Guard official said. The 156.97-metre-long MV Swaraj Dweep had sailed from Port Blair towards Nancowrie on Thursday. Later in the night, the ship reported ingress of water in hold 2. It was also reported that containers inside were floating and crashing into the walls. The ship was then close to the 10-degree channel that separates the Andaman’s from the Nicobar chain of islands.


The Coast Guard directed the ship’s captain to move towards the anchorage of Car Nicobar and dispatched a ship from the Kamorta Island. “On Thursday, we used powerful pumps to bring down the water level in the hull. On Friday, we carried out some preliminary repairs to make the ship seaworthy. It can now sail back to Port Blair with its crew. However, passengers can’t be allowed on board,” the official added. While those rescued on Friday were kept at a safe shelter on Car Nicobar, many women feared for their husbands who had been forced to stay behind on the ship. Their relief was evident when the men were united with their families on Friday. The Andaman and Nicobar Administration has taken responsibility to send the passengers to their destination. When not carrying passengers from the mainland to the Andaman’s, MV Swaraj Dweep works as an inter-island ferry. Due to its size and endurance, it undertakes trips from Port Blair to distant islands such as Nancowrie.



9 killed in stone quarry blast in Kurnool, several injured



Kurnool: Tragedy struck more than 20 migrant workers with nine of them dying on the spot and eight others suffering serious injuries after a major blast went off at a granite quarry in Hathi Belgal village of Alur mandal in Kurnool district late on Friday evening. According to the Alur police, the incident happened around 7.15pm when gelatin sticks placed at the site is suspected to have gone off. Most of the migrant workers were from Odisha. However, they also found a diesel tanker burning at the site so they are yet to confirm if the truck triggered the blast. Local witnesses said they had heard a huge blast and soon, villagers at Hathi Belgal and Molagavalli too felt the noise and vibrations. People nearby began running helter skelter at the site of the smoke fearing it might be an attack. Cops said that they are yet to identify the deceased as the bodies were badly mutilated. Fire tenders rushed to the spot to douse the flames. Most of the injured suffered 70 degree burns and are in a critical condition.



International News



Sweden loses its tallest peak to global warming


Stockholm: Sweden has a new highest point. The Scandinavian country’s highest peak lost its title this week because record heat has been melting away the tip of a glacier that sits atop the Kebnekaise mountain, experts say. A month ago, the mountain’s southern peak held the title, soaring to 2,101 metres above sea level. On Tuesday, after weeks of high temperatures, it was 2,097 metres high — only 20 centimeters, or about six inches, taller than the north peak, said Professor Gunhild Rosqvist, head of the Tarfala Research Station near the mountain. By Wednesday, enough had melted to take it below the critical height, Rosqvist said, handing the northern peak the crown. “We can estimate the melt rate based on temperature measurements. We know that it has melted because it is very hot,” she said. “We are going to measure again later this summer when the melting stops. In a month, we’ll know how bad it is”.


The shrinking peak is symbolic of climate change that also brought marked shifts for animals and vegetation, she said, and badly affected the region’s reindeer herders. July was the hottest on record in many parts of Sweden, with drought and some of the worst forest fires the country has seen. Even if the northern peak is higher when the mountain is measured at summer’s end, the southern tip is likely to grow again in winter. The peaks could then take turns as Sweden’s highest point over the next few years. The southern peak was first measured in 1880, when it stood at 2,123 metres. Its height has varied from year to year, growing in colder years and shrinking in warmer ones. But since 1995, it has shrunk almost a meter a year, with few exceptions, the newspaper ‘Dagens Nyheter’ reported. Located in far northern Sweden, Kebnekaise is a popular tourist spot. Last year, 10,000 people reached the summit of the southern peak, a trip that usually takes 10 to 15 hours. But once the northern peak officially becomes the highest mountain, that could change as climbers seek to summit the new highest peak.



12 schools, 6 of them all-girls, set ablaze in Gilgit-Baltistan



Islamabad: At least 12 schools, out of which six were all-girls, were attacked and set ablaze by unknown attackers late on Thursday night in Diamer district of Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan region, police and locals said on Friday. Locals said that two huge explosions were heard at midnight in two primary girls-only schools in Diamer’s Ronay and Takya villages, while smoke could be seen billowing from several destroyed schools in other villages in the early hours of Friday. The attackers also vandalised the schools and even set the books ablaze. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet.

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