Two of gang held for conning people at ATM kiosks in state
MUMBAI: Two men were arrested by Kurar police after they switched some persons’ debit cards at ATM kiosks with invalid ones and later misused the stolen ones to make online purchases and cash withdrawals. Held for the first time, the duo has been booked in seven offences in north Mumbai and Palghar district in the past. Police said they were part of a gang of five that has similarly conned around 25 people at kiosks in Maharashtra and Gujarat. On February 15, Malad (E) resident, Deepak Patel, had visited a State Bank of India ATM when a person offered to help him withdraw cash. Patel did not realise is that the man made a mental note of his PIN and discreetly switched his debit card with an invalid one after the transaction. Patel later found that he had been defrauded. The accused used Patel’s card to withdraw Rs25,000, transfer Rs40,000 to their bank accounts and purchase jewellery worth Rs. 49,000. After Patel lodged a complaint, police studied CCTV footage at the kiosk and obtained the number plate of the accused’s bike. On February 25, Pravin Mishra(26) was arrested from Nala Sopara. On questioning, he named his aides, Nanhe Pandey, Ankit Singh, Lalit Pandey and Rahul Dubey. Based on mobile phone surveillance, Nanhe was picked up from Bhadoi in UP on March 1. “We recovered two gold rings, a gold bracelet, two motorcycles, a mobile phone and cash collectively worth nearly Rs 2 lakh,” said investigating officer Gorakhnath Gharge, Kurar police.
Panic alarms in five cluster buses to test concept
NEW DELHI: Delhi government launched panic alarm buttons in five buses as a pilot project on the eve of International Women’s Day. The government plans to have panic buttons in all public transport buses by March 2019. “Panic alarms in buses will add the third line of defence to ensure safety of women in Delhi buses. Our government has already deployed bus marshals in all DTC buses, and implemented CCTVs in 200 DTC buses on a pilot basis,” said transport minister Kailash Gahlot. “By March 2019, we will be scaling up these initiatives to cover all DTC and cluster buses to guarantee a safe and harassment-free bus ride for women,” he said. The alarms have been put in five cluster buses plying on the route 522. The project has been implemented in collaboration with a Bangalore-based NGO, Project Durga, working in the area of women safety and gender equity in public spaces in the country.
On-board announcements and LED display boards will publicise that the bus is equipped with a panic alarm system. Four panic buttons have been installed to cover the entire length of the vehicle. If any of the alarms is pressed, a loud beeping alarm will be activated for 40 seconds, which then cannot be deactivated. Upon hearing the alarm, the driver will take the bus to the left-most part of the road and bring it to stop. The conductor will be able to see exactly which alarm was pressed, and intervene in the situation. If the situation isn’t minor and cannot be addressed on the spot, the conductor will immediately call the depot manager, who will intimate PCR van if necessary. The panic alarm system will also be integrated with the bus GPS location, to immediately alert the depot manager and central command centre of cluster bus operations at DIMTS Kashmere gate.
Miracle: Bus with 50 falls off bridge, all safe
HYDERABAD: Employees of city-based Cyient engineering company had a narrow escape as the office bus ferrying staff members to their homes fell off Bharat Nagar bridge in the wee hours of Wednesday. A Sony travels bus, hired by Cyient Engineering for providing pick and drop facility to their employees, started from Madhapur office at 12:30pm. Sanathnagar inspector, E Vankat Reddy, said: “50 employees working in the second shift, which starts at 3:30pm, boarded the bus. The bus stopped at IDPL Colony and Chintal. At around 1:15am, the bus reached Bharat Nagar bridge. While coming down the bridge, driver Mohammed Jaffar either dozed off or fell unconscious due to ill health. The bus overshot the median and crashed through the railing of the bridge on the right side”. Cops said before falling off the bridge from 7-feet height, the bus was dangling on the edge, giving time to majority of employees to de-board. “Majority of employees and the driver de-boarded safely and none suffered injuries. Luckily, the bus didn’t crash into any oncoming vehicle on the bridge,” Reddy said. Jaffar, 52, said he was suffering from fever and experienced a blackout due to low BP. Police registered a dangerous driving case against the driver. No arrests have been made yet.
Hundreds of flights in NY region canceled before storm
NEW YORK: Hundreds of flights were canceled Wednesday morning to and from New York airports as the region braced itself for heavy snowfall. Some 470 flights — nearly 37 per cent of the total scheduled — arriving and departing from John F Kennedy International Airport had already been canceled by 9am (1400 GMT), along with 550, or 44 per cent, of flights from New Jersey’s Newark airport and 485, or 42 per cent, from La Guardia, which operates primarily domestic flights, according to the Flight Aware flight tracking site. The Port Authority agency that oversees the three airports — which has come under sharp criticism for the chaos that followed early January’s snowstorm — said each airport had stocked folding beds, blankets, diapers and baby formula as a precautionary measure. New York expected between six and 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) of snowfall Wednesday, with up to 20 inches predicted in more rural areas of New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut. The National Weather Service warned of “heavy wet snow, coastal flooding and gusty winds” in the region. New York public schools as well as city public services and courts were open as usual. The last storm to sweep through the northeastern United States last week left at least five people dead, mostly due to trees felled by violent winds and heavy rains.
Anti-Muslim riots flare anew in Sri Lanka despite emergency; social media blocked
MULLEGAMA: Religious violence flared anew in the hills of central Sri Lanka on Wednesday despite a state of emergency, with Buddhist mobs sweeping through towns and villages, burning Muslim homes and businesses and leaving victims barricaded inside mosques. The government ordered popular social media networks blocked in an attempt to stop the violence from spreading, and thousands of police and soldiers spread out across the worst-hit areas. The police also ordered a curfew across much of the region for a third straight day, trying to calm the situation. Hundreds of Muslim residents of Mullegama, a village in the hills of central Sri Lanka, barricaded themselves inside a local mosque after Buddhist mobs attacked their homes Wednesday morning accusing them of stealing the donation box of a nearby temple. At least 20 Muslim homes appeared badly damaged and flames engulfed one two-story home. The Muslims hiding in the mosque, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals, said police prevented them from saving their property and did nothing to stop the attackers. One Sinhala Buddhist man who was part of the attack died in an explosion and another man was injured, police guarding the area said. A local Buddhist man said the Muslims were using improvised explosives, which the men in the mosque denied. The police officials said they could not immediately identify what caused the explosion or who was responsible. In the nearby small town of Katugastota, Ikram Mohamed, a Muslim, stood outside the wreckage of the textile shop where he worked, after Sinhalese Buddhist mobs set it on fire. He and the owner had closed the shop Wednesday morning when police announced the curfew. They returned to find it destroyed, and clothing and dressmaker dummies smoking in the ruins.
“There are many good Sinhalese people,” he said. “This is being done by a few jealous people”. Muslims own many of the small businesses in Sri Lanka, a fact that many believe has helped make them targets as Buddhist-Muslim relations have worsened in recent years amid the rise of hard-line Buddhist groups, which accuse Muslims of forcing people to convert and destroying sacred Buddhist sites. Area residents said mobs swept through at least two towns in the central hills Wednesday, attacking two mosques and a string of Muslim-owned shops and buildings. An internet company official, meanwhile, said the government had ordered popular social media networks blocked in areas near the violence. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the order was for Facebook, Instagram, Viber and WhatsApp. Some of those networks appeared to be blocked in Colombo, the capital, while others worked sporadically and very slowly. President Maithripala Sirisena declared the state of emergency on Tuesday, though a day later details of the decree remained unclear. While the hills were flooded with soldiers and policemen ordering people off the street, little, if anything, appeared to have changed elsewhere in the country. While government officials have not directly accused Buddhist extremists of being behind the violence, many comments appeared aimed at them. The government will “act sternly against groups that are inciting religious hatred,” Cabinet minister Rauff Hakeem said Tuesday after a meeting with the president. The emergency announcement came after Buddhist mobs swept through towns outside Kandy, burning at least 11 Muslim-owned shops and homes. The attacks followed reports that a Buddhist man had been killed by a group of Muslims. Police fired tear gas into the crowds, and later announced a curfew in the town.
Lorry driver found guilty of killing 8 Indians
LONDON: A UK court has found a Polish lorry driver, Ryszard Masierak, guilty of dangerous driving, which led to the death of eight Indians, including several Wipro employees, in an accident on a UK motorway last year. The Reading Crown Court jury found Masierak, 32, guilty of causing “eight counts of death”. He was behind the wheels of a lorry, which crashed into the minibus on M1 at Newport Pagnell on August 26, 2017. The court said he had been two-timing over the drink-drive limit. The jury cleared British Fed Ex driver David Wagstaff, 54, of dangerous driving. He has pleaded guilty to lesser charges of causing death by “careless driving”.