News Flash – 9 August 2018

National News





Mumbai: A major fire broke out in the hydrocracker plant at Bharat Petroleum’s Mahul refinery in Chembur on Wednesday afternoon, triggering panic among locals, who spilled onto the streets after an explosion and tremors. As videos went viral on social media, with citizens fearing the spread of toxic gases, BPCL authorities assured there was no reason to panic and that the blaze was under control. Forty persons were injured, five of them seriously. Two who sustained severe head wounds are critical. Interestingly, all the injuries were caused by flying debris, not burns. About 45 workers had a miraculous escape, thanks to a hissing sound from the plant minutes before the explosion. The cause of the explosion and fire is yet to be ascertained. Sources said the possibility of a ‘vapour cloud ignition’, the vapour cloud being a mixture of hydrogen and hydrogen sulphide because of a gas leakage from the hydrocracker plant, cannot be ruled out.



Teacher tracks phone thief online, gets him nabbed as he boards train


Mumbai: With some ingenious sleuthing, a 19-year-old teacher from Andheri managed to track down the man who had stolen her Android cellphone. The woman used another handset to track every online activity of the thief and got the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to nab him just as he was leaving the city by train. RPF personnel handed over Selvaraj Shetty (32) to the Dadar GRP outpost where a case of theft was registered against him on Monday. Zeenat Banu Haq, a Marol resident, teaches at a preschool in the same neighbourhood. On Sunday, after returning from a trip to Malad, she could not find her Xiaomi 4A handset. “I couldn’t recollect where my phone was stolen,” she told TOI. But she had logged into the Google account and turned on the “location” on her stolen phone. There is a section called “My Activity” in a Google account where one can view and manage things such as websites visited, videos watched and searches done. “I used another Android handset to log into my Google account and kept track of the activities done using the stolen phone”. Haq said she found that the thief had searched for songs from the Rajnikanth-starrer ‘Kaala’. He used the SHAREit app, updated WhatsApp messenger and accessed Facebook. “Eventually, he downloaded an app for booking railway tickets,” she added.


As the battery status of the stolen phone could be seen, Haq gathered from the draining battery that the handset was being excessively used. The man then booked a Dadar-Tiruvannamalai railway ticket for Sunday and took a screenshot of the PNR number and seat details. He also took a picture of himself. “Through Google Photos, I accessed his ticket details as well as his photo. A quick internet search showed that the train was Puducherry Express and it would leave from Dadar Terminus around 9.30pm on Sunday. I left home and headed straight for Dadar Terminus where I found RPF personnel and narrated everything,” said Haq. The young woman continued to track the thief ’s activity as the “location” option of her stolen phone was on. She could see the bridge that he took to reach Dadar Terminus. The RPF waited after the train arrived but the man didn’t arrive immediately. “When he finally arrived and took his seat, the RPF started to quiz him. My phone was found but he claimed that it had been mortgaged with him. By then, I had broken down as I was scared. But the RPF asked a lot of questions and he and his sister gave contradictory answers,” said Haq. “RPF constable Nitin Mistry summoned two other staffers to attend the train and they hauled Shetty to the Dadar outpost. After the stolen mobile was recovered, he was handed over to the GRP,” said Satish Menon, senior inspector, Dadar RPF. Shetty lives on Malad Link Road.



50 cops on patrol duty, more CCTV’s to minimise blind spots at district courts


New Delhi: District court complexes are in the focus of police now, and the next time you enter a court, you could find the naib court, the court policeman, sitting in a corner equipped with a firearm instead of a stick. Following a spate of violence in courts in the capital, Delhi Police has decided to beef up the security at these complexes. Senior police officers confirmed the developments and said that a general security plan has been drafted that incorporates the threat perceptions to courts, ranging from violence involving under trials to drone attacks. The enhanced security, sources said, was mooted after the recent gunfights at court complexes, particularly those involving gangs at the Rohini and Tis Hazari courts. For a start, the Dwarka court complex has got a reserve squad of more than 50 to patrol the court. The cops deployed have been pulled from the district investigation unit, MACT cell and other reserve forces. An officer said that the teams are deployed on each floor of the court building and their presence is likely to act as a deterrent to violent acts. “Apart from performing their duties in their parent units, the cops are being rotated to ensure a steady presence in the court complex,” the officer added. “We are also working on improving the CCTV coverage inside and around the court area to minimise the blind spots”.


The mobile unit at Dwarka been acquainted with standard operating procedures for various levels of threat alerts. Half of the team will be deployed for armed response, as quick reaction team, mobile strike party and for patrolling. The other half will be deployed for intelligence collection. Similar action is being undertaken in other district courts in the capital. Apart from increasing the police presence inside the courts, a risk assessment system will also be used whenever there are hearings involving gangsters and hardcore criminals. Sources explained that a risk assessment input will be conveyed to other police units whenever such a criminal is to come to court. If the risk is assessed as high, the cops can opt to have the hearing via video conferencing. If that’s not feasible, the teams may keep the prisoner inside the court lock-up area and get his statements recorded before a magistrate there. The cops transporting the criminal have also been asked to establish a safe house for in-custody criminals to meet emergencies. Sources acquainted with the developments stated that apart from force deployment, technical devices have also been recommended as force multipliers that will plug the gaps. The cops have thus proposed a fully integrated intrusion detection system that includes the installation of motion sensors, smoke sensors, heat sensors, infra-red sensors and glass break sensors according to the requirements of the premises.



Howrah ATM dispenses brown paper

The brown paper and the Rs 2000 notes dispensed by the ATM.



Howrah: A customer on Tuesday night alleged that an ATM in Howrah’s Bally dispensed a sheet of brown paper along with Rs 4,000 in currency notes instead of the Rs 6,000 he had keyed in. Bijay Pandey (37), the customer, has lodged complaints with police and the Bank of India (BOI), which owns the ATM. Under RBI norms, currency notes issued to banks are screened and segregated in three lots. The lot with the best notes is handed to agencies that fill ATMs. The second lot of notes that are also in good condition are sent to bank branches, while the third lot with notes in bad condition or soiled ones are returned to RBI. A sales manager of a realty firm at Bhowanipore, Pandey went to the ATM adjoining the bank’s branch at Bally Bazar near his Ramnavamitala home around 9pm on Tuesday. He swiped his Karnataka Bank debit card and went through the usual operations to withdraw Rs 6,000. To Pandey’s surprise, two Rs 2,000 notes were dispensed by the machine along with a sheet of brown paper, which according to him, was of the same size and thickness as the notes. Soon, he received an SMS from his bank informing that Rs 6,000 had been withdrawn from his account. Pandey went to Bally PS and lodged a complaint. He went to the BOI branch on Wednesday and met manager R S Behera. Pandey alleged that Behera reluctantly accepted his complaint. Behera said, “The agency was negligent. Our head office will probe it and take a decision”.



More bank accounts at risk, 3 skimmers caught

The ATM on Elgin Road where one of the skimmers was caught red-handed. (Inset) Guard Sofiuddin Sk.



Kolkata: Debit cards belonging to at least a hundred more Kolkata customers have been compromised, with probe leading to a gang specialising in skimming and operating from the Mumbai suburb of Mira Road. Cops busted this latest racket, thanks to the presence of mind of two guards — Sofiuddin Sk and Moinuddin — employed at an Elgin Road ATM. A six-hour operation, starting from 8.30 pm on Tuesday and ending before daybreak on Wednesday, ended with the arrest of three persons from diverse backgrounds: an out-of-business broadband service provider, an engineering college dropout and an electrician. The same Elgin Road ATM — belonging to Kotak Mahindra Bank was also targeted by the Romanian gang busted last week. Soifuddin was the first to notice a youth fiddling with the ATM around 8.30 pm. “Two more men started fleeing, after trying to alert the person standing inside the ATM, as soon as I tried to check what was going on,” Soifuddin said. “I was certain something was wrong and automatically presumed that they were trying to fit a skimming device. So Moinuddin and I locked the ATM from outside and informed cops. We also informed Kotak Mahindra officials, one of whom arrived and assisted the police,” he added. Cops arrested Rohit Nair and, by 2.30 am, picked up Sayeed Sayed from the airport (he was trying to flee with the assumed identity of Ajay Chauhan) and Sudhir Ranjan from the CIT Road area. A search yielded two skimming devices, pin-hole cameras, mobile phones and a laptop.


The Mumbai gang had managed to lay their hands on the PIN and debit card details of at least a hundred bank customers, officials said. “This info was gleaned through skimming machines set up at a New Market ATM belonging to ICICI Bank,” joint CP (crime) Praveen Tripathi said. “The gang targeted three other ATMs — one on Elgin Road belonging to Kotak Mahindra, one in Kasba belonging to IndusInd Bank and another also in Kasba belonging to Axis Bank,” an officer said. “They failed to gather any data from the Axis Bank ATM in Kasba because anti-skimming devices were already installed there. We are now trying to ascertain whether they had got any data from the other two ATMs,” he said, adding cops were probing possible links with the Romanian bank fraud gang busted earlier. “The gang bought a laptop from Forum Mall to store 100 customers’ data who used the ICICI ATM at New Market,” Tripathi said. This gang, officials said, was headed by Sayeed who owned a broadband firm. “The launching of new services by an Indian behemoth forced him out of business. He went to Australia where he claimed to have married a woman from Guatemala. He returned to India about one and a half years ago, after which he launched the gang along with engineering college dropout Nair and electrician Ranjan, who came from Ambedkar Nagar in UP. Rohit was arrested earlier, in Pune, where the gang made Rs 7 lakh. A similar operation in Mumbai yielded Rs 12 lakh,” an officer said.


The trio set up skimming machines at ATMs of ICICI Bank at New Market (left) and IndusInd Bank at Kasba.



“We found that Ranjan put up at Anupam Hotel in Howrah before shifting to a kin’s house on CIT Road. Nair and Sayeed had checked into Rowland Hotel in Bhowanipore. We have also found their footage from Acropolis Mall, where they went on a buying spree after inserting the skimmer machines at the Kasba ATM without realising that an alert citizen had detected their device,” police said. “They read in TOI that Romanians were arrested for skimming in the city the very day they tried hitting the Elgin Road ATM but wanted to take one more chance,” Tripathi said. Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, secretary general of the Central Association of Private Security Industry, West Bengal, an umbrella body of security agencies, said Soifuddin would be rewarded “so that it acts as an inspiration for other guards”. “We are planning a special training module for guards posted at banks and ATMs to make them aware of new challenges,” said Ahluwalia. “We appreciate alertness shown by two guards who were on duty at the ATM on Elgin Road in Kolkata, which helped us in immediately informing the police and catching the culprits. We have lodged a complaint with the police and are extending full cooperation in the investigation. The commissioner of police has also appreciated the alertness and vigilance of the security guards,” said Rohit Rao, chief communication officer, Kotak Mahindra Bank.



Munna is a prize catch for Indian Security Agencies



Kozhikode: Bangladeshi terrorist Mohammed Zahidul Islam alias Munna, who was picked up by the NIA from Bengaluru on Tuesday, is a prize catch for Indian security agencies as he is one of the most wanted criminals in his country with a death sentence against him. Munna, also known as Boma Mizan and Kausar, was forcibly freed by his associates who attacked a police team that was taking him to court in 2014. Many policemen are reported to have been killed in that incident in Bangladesh. Munna’s arrest on Tuesday was on the basis of the inputs received by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from two migrant labourers picked up from Kottakkal on August 3. Sources said Munna used to frequently visit Malappuram over the past year. “Names of places like Tirur, Kuttippuram, Tanur and Kottakkal were found in his diary. It is assumed that he was planning to come to Malappuram again,” said a source. Munna is the senior leader of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a banned terrorist organization, whose aim is to overthrow the elected government and to establish an Islamic state.



International News





Indonesia: A mosque that collapsed after a 6.9 earthquake on Sunday in North Lombok, Indonesia. The toll rose above 130 on Wednesday, as authorities appealed for food, clean water and medical help for some 156,000 people forced from their homes. Many frightened, displaced villagers are staying under tents or tarpaulins dotted along roads or in parched rice fields, and makeshift medical facilities have been set up to treat the injured.

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