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Maharashtra

Five killed, two injured as chartered plane crashes in Mumbai suburb

At least five persons including a pedestrian were killed and two injured when a small chartered plane crashed in the thickly populated suburb of Ghatkopar in north-east Mumbai on Thursday, officials said.

 
Chartered plane crashes in Mumbai, 5 dead
 
 
At least five persons including a pedestrian were killed and two injured when a small chartered plane crashed in the thickly populated suburb of Ghatkopar in north-east Mumbai on Thursday, officials said.
 
Eyewitnesses said that the plane was seen hurtling down in the narrow Jeevadaya Lane area and crashed with a deafening sound before breaking into pieces and bursting into flames around 1.15 p.m. There were two pilots and as many engineers on board.
 
The fuselage had broken into several pieces and one piece was recovered at least 50 metres away while some other portions of the plane burnt in the premises of an under-construction building. The fire was brought under control within half an hour by the fire brigade.
 
The aircraft's crucial Flight Data Recorder or Black Box was recovered.
 
A local passer-by in the vicinity of the crash was burnt fatally when some burning ATF fuel from the aircraft fell on him, said an eyewitness who was among the first to reach the spot.
 
The cause of the crash is not known and it occurred in the compound of the under construction Jagruti apartments, thereby averting a potentially major disaster.
 
There are usually at least four dozen labourers working on the premises but they had taken a lunch break when the aircraft hurtled there, creating a crater by its impact.
 
Aviation expert and Executive Airways Managing Director Pradeep Thampi said the aircraft was a 30-year-old King Air C-90, purchased from the Uttar Pradesh government by private company UY Aviation Pvt Ltd in Mumbai around a couple of years ago.
 
"Its call sign was VT-UPZ and it was a regular 12-seater on a test flight. The tragedy has claimed the pilot, co-pilot and two engineers. We cannot say immediately what may have led to the sudden crash," Thampi told IANS.
 
An Uttar Pradesh government spokesperson confirmed that the Mumbai-based UY Aviation Pvt Ltd had bought the aircraft a few years ago.
 
Union Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu, who hails from Mumbai, expressed "deep shock" over the tragedy and directed the ministry officials concerned to rush to the accident site and provide all assistance possible.
 
Prabhu said he has ordered the Director-General of Civil Aviation to conduct an investigation into the crash and a team has left for the spot for a preliminary probe.
 
Mumbai Police, fire brigade, disaster relief agencies, besides local BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, legislators and others are at the site and further details of the victim crew members and pedestrians are awaited.
 
IANS
 
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16 dead, 15 injured, several trapped as five-storeyed building collapses in Mumbai

At least 16 people died and 15 others suffered injuries when an old, dilapidated five-storeyed building collapsed in the Bhendi Bazaar area, near J J Junction, in south Mumbai here this morning, official sources said.

 
16 dead, 15 injured in Mumbai building collapse
At least 16 people died and 15 others suffered injuries when an old, dilapidated five-storeyed building collapsed in the Bhendi Bazaar area, near J J Junction, in south Mumbai here this morning, official sources said.
 
Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai Assistant Commissioner J S Ghegadmal told NetIndian over the telephone from the scene that 31 victims had been extricated from the debris, of whom 16 were found dead.
 
The injured were rushed to the nearby J. J. Hospital, where the condition of some of them was stated to be serious, sources said.
 
With several more people feared trapped under the tonnes of debris, scores of men from the Mumbai Fire Brigade, the Municipal Corporation, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and local residents were engaged in massive search and rescue efforts.
 
Cranes, gas cutters and other equipment were being used to clear the debris and cut through the mangled steel and concrete to reach the victims and look for possible survivors.
 
The structure was more than a hundred years old, sources said. It was locted in a heavily congested area in south Mumbai's C Ward, and rescue teams with their big vehicles and heavy equipment had a tough time reaching the spot.
 
The building had a playschool on the premises which would have opened at 10 am as usual. However, the building came down at about 8.30 am, much before the children were scheduled to arrive.
 
This is the third major incident of building collapse in the metropolis in recent weeks. On July 25, at least 17 people died and 11 others suffered injuries when a four-storeyed residential building collapsed in the suburban area of Ghatkopar.
 
On August 26, six people lost their lives when a part of a seven-storeyed under-construction building collapsed at Chandivali while some unauthorised portions of the structure were being demolished.
 
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Municipal officials said they received a call about the collapse of the building around 8.40 am and the fire brigade was immediately rushed to the spot. There was no immediate word on the number of people living in the building and how many of them were trapped under the debris. Police have cordoned off the area to facilitate the smooth conduct of the search and rescue operations.
 
The incident has come two days after Mumbai experienced its heaviest rainfall since the July 2005 floods.
 
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed grief over the loss of lives in the incient and is personally monitoring the situation.
 
He has ordered a detailed inquiry into the incident by a committee headed by the Additional Chief Secretary (Housing).
 
Mr. Fadnavis has asked the Municipal Commissioner to submit a detailed report on the tragedy. He also asked the Municipal Commissioner to focus on ensuring immediate medical assistance to the injured persons. State Minister Subhash Desai visited the spot and later briefed Mr. Fadnavis about the situation.
 
Civic officials said the building had been declared unsafe for living six years ago. The residents had been served with evacuation notices in 2011 and ordered to vacate the building to enable redevelopment of the area under the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) project.
 
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16 dead, 14 injured in major fire at ammunition depot in Maharashtra

At least 22 defence personnel died and 14 others suffered injuries in a major fire that broke out in the early hours of Tuesday and triggered huge explosions at one of India's biggest ammunition depots at Pulgoan in Wardha district of Maharashtra.

 
16 dead, 14 injured in ammunition depot fire in Wardha
At least 16 people died and 14 others suffered injuries in a major fire that broke out in the early hours of today and triggered huge explosions at one of India's biggest ammunition depots at Pulgoan in Wardha district of Maharashtra.
 
Wardha district officials said the injured had been admitted to hospitals in Wardha town, about 30 km from Pulgaon, for treatment, official sources said.
 
The massive fire and the explosions that followed lit up the night sky in the town, located about 100 km from Nagpur.
 
The fire broke out in the Central Ammunition Depot around 1.30 am today and was brought under control by around 6 am today, they said.
 
The cause of the fire could not be immediately ascertained and would be established only after an inquiry, they said.
 
The sources said families living in accommodation near the depot were evacuated to safer places as a precautionary measure.
 
Fire brigade personnel worked throughout the night to bring the blaze under control.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the fire.
 
“Pained by loss of lives caused by a fire at central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra. My thoughts are with the bereaved families," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter
 
"I pray that those who are injured recover quickly," he said, adding that he had asked Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to rush to the spot and take stock of the situation. 
 
Chief of Army Staff Gen Dalbir Singh is also rushing to Wardha for an assessment of the situation, the sources added.
 
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SC reverses its own orders, commutes death sentence to life imprisonment for two

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed its own decisions and commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment of one M. A. Antony from Kerala and that of Rajendra Prahladrao Wasnik from Maharashtra, citing socio-economic background of the Kerala man for relaxing the sentence.
 
In the case of Wasnik, the court said that probability of his getting reformed, rehabilitated and re-integrated into the society was not considered.
 
The death sentence of both Antony and Wasnik were commuted to life imprisonment by the bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta by two separated judgments.
 
While in the case of Antony, the court ordered that the death sentence is "converted into a sentence of imprisonment for life", in the case of Wasink, the court ordered that he "should not be released from custody for the rest of his normal life".
 
Antony was convicted for eliminating a family of six by killing all of them on the night of January 7, 2001 in Aluva Town of Ernakulam Adistrict in Kerala.
 
In the case of Wasnik, he was convicted for the rape and murder of a three-year-old girl in the intervening night of March 2 and 3, 2007 in Amravati district of Maharashtra.
 
In both cases, they were convicted by the trial court and sentenced to death, which were upheld by the high courts and also the Supreme Court. In both cases, the review petitions, too, were rejected by the top court.
 
They were given a fresh hearing of their review petition in the wake of September 2, 2014 top court constitution bench observation that the hearing of a plea against death sentence would be done by a bench of three judges and there would be a limited open court hearing of the review petitions as well by a three-judge bench.
 
The top court by its September 2, 2014 judgment had said that in all the cases where review petitions have been rejected by the top court but death sentence has not been carried out, the convict can apply for reopening the review petition within one month from the date of decision rendered by the constitution bench.
 
Commuting the death sentence of Anthony to imprisonment for life, Justice Lokur said: "The socio-economic condition of the appellant (Antony) was a significant factor that ought to have been taken into consideration by the trial court as well as the high court while considering the punishment to be given to the appellant."
 
While the socio-economic condition of a convict is not a factor for disproving his guilt, the court on Wednesday said: "It is a factor that must be taken into consideration for the purposes of awarding an appropriate sentence to a convict."
 
Commuting the death sentence of Wasnik to imprisonment for rest of his normal life, Justice Lokur said: "We are of opinion that for the purposes of sentencing, the Sessions Judge, the high court as well as this court did not take into consideration the probability of reformation, rehabilitation and social re-integration of the appellant into society."
 
"Indeed, no material or evidence was placed before the courts to arrive at any conclusion in this regard one way or the other and for whatever it is worth on the facts of this case."
 
The prosecution, the court said, was "remiss in not producing the available DNA evidence and the failure to produce material evidence must lead to an adverse presumption against the prosecution and in favour of the appellant (Wasnik) for the purposes of sentencing."
 
IANS
 

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Gadkari faints on stage during function in Maharashtra

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Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari fainted and collapsed during a function here on Friday.
 
The incident occurred when he was standing with other dignitaries for the National Anthem at the convocation of the Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV) Agricultural University.
 
Gadkari started feeling uneasy, lost his balance and collapsed on the dais. Maharashtra Governor C. V. Rao and some others rushed to prevent him from falling.
 
He was examined by a team of medicos and his condition was described as "stable" by Bharatiya Janata Party colleagues.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Hindus should insist on law for Ram temple in Ayodhya: Bhagwat

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Hindus need not fight, but should insist that the government make a law to build a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)  chief Mohan Bhagwat said on Sunday.
 
"We do not need to fight but need to insist. We will have to create an atmosphere that the government should build the temple now. We have to demand of the government to make a law for it. We need to build pressure on the government," Bhagwat said at Vishva Hindu Parishad's "Dharm Sabha" here.
 
"If a government wants to build the temple and is not finding the ways, public pressure gives it strength. The entire country needs to stand for the temple."
 
He said that the construction of Ram temple is not related to politics.
 
"It has no relation with politics. We need a grand Ram temple. It should be made in the same format as we have imagined. It should be built by the hands of those who tried to build it in the 80s. We need to mobilise the entire society for this," he said.
 
He said that the society does not move according to the words written in law, but according to its 'mann' (mind).
 
"It is like this everywhere in the world. The law needs to understand it, while the society respects the law," he said.
 
The Supreme Court has said that the construction of Ram temple is not its priority. In 2010, the Court decided that lord Ram was born there. It is his place. A hope was instilled that now Ram temple will be constructed. But the matter went to a new bench which again dragged it. The court clearly indicated that it was not their priority, he said. 
 
He said the Ram temple issue was not meant to bring someone to power or to throw someone out of power. "If the issue is resolved before elections, the issue can be put to an end," he said.
 
Reminding the Centre, he said it had once promised that if it was proven that there was a Ram temple at the site, then the place can be given to the Hindus which could be utilised by them according to their wish. 
 
"It has been proven time and again that there was a temple. This is the place where lord Ram was born," he said.
 
Lord Ram, lord Krishna and lord Shiv unite us. They do not see caste and religion. They teach us dignity. If a grand temple for Ram is constructed, all clashes will end, he claimed. 
 
"That's why I am saying that the government should bring a legislation. Those who are responsible for it should think about how a legislation can be brought. A law should be passed at the earliest. And it will be appropriate. Because all kinds of evidence has affirmed that there was a temple at 'that place'," he said.
 
IANS
 

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Three killed in Maharashtra army depot blast

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At least three persons were killed and around 12 others injured in a blast at the Wardha ammunition depot of the army here in Maharashtra on Tuesday, officials said.
 
The explosion occurred at the Pulgaon Central Ammunition Depot around 7 a.m. when some discarded ammunition was being unloaded for destruction at the demolition ground here.
 
Top police, army and civil officials have rushed to the site to investigate the matter.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Koregaon-Bhima case: Digvijay Singh on Pune police radar

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Pune police are likely to question senior Congressman and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh whose name had come up in the ongoing probe into the Koregaon-Bhima case almost three months ago, officials said here on Monday.
 
"We may call or question him in connection with the matter, but there is no time-frame decided yet," Joint Police Commissioner Shivajirao Bodkhe told IANS.
 
Singh's reference is in connection with a telephone number - said to belong to the Congress leader - found in one of the letters seized from the alleged Maoist sympathisers arrested by the police in the past few months.
 
The Congress leader's name was raised nearly three months ago with some Bharatiya Janata Party leaders like spokesperson Sambit Patra also referring to it.
 
"We have found a letter with some phone numbers. These are being investigated," Deputy Commissioner of Police Suhas Bavche said, without elaborating.
 
Singh had expressed his readiness to face any probe in early September and said: "If that is so, then I should be arrested right away."
 
In the latest instance, the Maharashtra Congress has taken strong umbrage at the allegations and efforts by the Maharashtra Police to drag Singh into the matter.
 
"Are the Pune police trying to help BJP in the Madhya Pradesh elections? Even after being pulled up in the Supreme Court, why does the (Pune) police keep rushing to the media? We see this happening," said Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant. 
 
The letter, dated September 25, 2017, has been submitted before the Special Court as part of the evidence proving the links between the arrested activists and Maoist leaders of various outlawed groups like the CPI-Maoist.
 
IANS
 

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Sitharaman dedicates to nation Ultra Light Howitzers, Self Propelled Guns and 6x6 Field Artillery Tractors

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Marking a major milestone towards capacity building and capability enhancement of the Indian Army, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday dedicated to the nation the globally combat proven M777 A2 Ultra Light Howitzers, K-9 Vajra Tracked Self-Propelled Guns and 6x6 Filed Artillery Tractors.
 
The ceremony held at Deolali Field Firing Ranges in Maharashtra was attended by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Army Staff, senior serving officers of the Indian Army and the Defence Ministry, representatives of manufacturing industries as also Government officials from the US and Korea.
 
The 155mm, 39 Calibre Ultra Light Howitzers have been procured from the US under government-to-government foreign military sales. These will be assembled in India by BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defense. 
 
"The gun system is versatile, lightweight and can be heli-lifted, thereby providing the much-needed flexibility in employment in various terrains," an official press release said.
 
The first ten K9 Vajra 155mm/52 calibre guns have been imported from Hanwha Techwin of South Korea in semi-knocked down state and have been assembled by L&T in India. 
 
The remaining 90 guns will be largely manufactured in India with some major assemblies coming from South Korea. Its induction will enhance firepower capabilities, the relese said.
 
An indigenously developed 6x6 field artillery tractor by Ashok Leyland was also formally inducted to provide the much-awaited replacement for the ageing fleet of Artillery Gun Towing Vehicles.
 
The event included a display of equipment and firepower by the artillery. Also on display were indigenous gun systems and surveillance & target acquisition systems that have been recently introduced in service, the release added.
 
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Fire hits Western Railway services in Maharashtra

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The Western Railway's (WR) long distance services on the Ahmedabad and New Delhi sectors were severely disrupted after two wagons of a goods train caught fire, with services resuming after 12 hours, officials said here on Friday.
 
A WR spokesperson said that the fire broke out near Vangaon station in a goods trains transporting a cargo of plastic granules from Surat (Gujarat) to Uran (Raigad), around 10.45 p.m. on Thursday.
 
The blaze in the 15-16 bogies resulted in the overhead electrical equipment and other railway assets also burning and falling down, following which the WR disconnected power supply, hitting all traffic movement in both directions.
 
Since then, all incoming and outgoing train traffic on the long-distance routes were disrupted, leading to cancellations, short-terminations, diversions, or rescheduling on the Ahmedabad and New Delhi sectors.
 
The work on restoring the lines was taken up on a war-footing and finally the services started normalising shortly before noon on Friday.
 
Thousands of passengers in both directions, rushing to celebrate Diwali weekend along with Bhai Dooj, especially on the Mumbai-Gujarat sector, complained that they were stranded for several hours owing to the disruptions.
 
However, the city's lifeline, suburban services remained unaffected on the Churchgate-Virar sector and were partially hit on the Virar-Dahanu routes.
 
IANS
 

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Death of Avni: Remove Mugantiwar as Minister, Maneka writes to Maharashtra CM

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Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi on Tuesday wrote to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis urging him to remove state Forests and Environment Minister Sudhir Mugantiwar from the position.
 
"I request you to fix the responsibility for the illegal killing of the tigress and consider removing Mugantiwar from the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment and Forest in the state government. I have personally known you an animal welfare person and I am sure you will consider my request," Maneka wrote in the letter.
 
The minister also stated that she had been in talks with Mugantiwar for the past two months and had repeatedly requested him to ensure that the tigress was tranquilized and quarantined.
 
"But for some inexplicable reasons, Mugantiwar has been repeatedly calling Shafat Ali Khan to kill the animals in Maharashtra. As ministers, we need to exhibit the highest standard of sensitivity to the constituencies that we serve," she added.
 
Avni was a five-year-old tigress identified as T1 who had caused widespread fear in Maharashtra's Vidarbha forests. She was shot dead early on Saturday near Borati village in Yavatmal district.
 
Maneka earlier had hit out at the minister on Sunday saying that it is a "straight case of crime" and said that Mugantiwar had earlier directed killing a dozen leopards and 300 wild boars.
 
"I am shocked that such a person is continuing to hold a ministerial position. Every time he has used the Hyderabad shooter, Shafat Ali Khan, and this time his son has also appeared on the scene to kill the tigress. His son was not authorized to kill. This is patently illegal," she added.
 
Avni died after three months of a massive hunt undertaken with the help of trap cameras, drones, trained sniffer dogs along with a team of forest department officials and spotters.
 
As per Supreme Court directives, forest department officials are required to first tranquilize and trap such an animal, but in Saturday's operation, Avni allegedly attacked the stalking team which shot her.
 
IANS
 

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Shooter who killed tigress Avni says acted on state order

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Under attack from animal rights activists for killing man-eating tigress Avni in Maharashtra, Hyderabadi sharpshooter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan on Tuesday said his team had acted on the orders of the Maharashtra government.
 
Shafat Ali Khan, whose son Asghar Ali Khan killed the tigress, defended their action saying the bullet was fired in self-defence.
 
Avni, identified as T1 and held responsible for killing at least 13 humans, was shot dead in Maharashtra's Yavatmal district on Saturday.
 
Shafat lashed out at the activists, including Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, for making personal and baseless allegations against them.
 
He threatened to sue those indulging in mudslinging. "We have legal recourse to take. We will not keep quiet," he told reporters here.
 
He said he was not scared of such allegations, and would continue to stand by those whose lives were threatened by elephants and tigers venturing out of forests.
 
"Whenever governments or poor Indians call me, I will go to help them. The Constitution of India has given the Right to Life to all citizens. If a tiger or an elephant comes out of a jungle and kills people, I will stand by those people," he said.
 
"Why those making allegations now did not have the guts to go there. Why no police officer or military general was called. Was there nobody else in the whole country," he asked.
 
Shafat said he had been called by the Jharkhand government to kill an elephant that was held responsible for the death of 15 people. Last year, he was called by the Maharashtra government to kill a leopard that had mauled seven children to death.
 
He recalled that he was called to kill a tigress in Pilibhit, the Lok Sabha constituency of Maneka Gandhi, in 2009. "For four months, teams that had come from all over India tried but nothing happened. Finally, I was called and after an operation that lasted 35 days and nights, I killed her. Nobody opened their mouths then."
 
"Now after spending 40 days in the (Yavatmal) jungle and facing all difficulties, we completed this operation and they are making all sorts of allegations," he said.
 
On Maneka Gandhi's allegation that Asghar Ali had appeared on the scene illegally to murder the tigress, Shafat said that his son was part of a five-member team authorised by the Chief Conservator of Forest(CCF), Yavatmal.
 
Asghar said that their intention was not to kill the animal and that's why they patrolled for 24 hours, taking risks on several occasions.
 
"We tried to move closer to the tigress. It used to be in thick bushes and we were not getting a clear view, which was required for tranquilising it," he said.
 
IANS
 

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Malegaon 2008 case: Terror charges framed against 7 accused

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A Special NIA Court here on Tuesday framed terror charges against Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit, Sadhvi Pragnya Singh Thakur and five others in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.
 
Among 12 prime accused, the seven have been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Indian Penal Code.
 
Besides Purohit and Thakur, the five other accused are: ex-Major Ramesh Upadhyay, Sudhakar Dwivedi, Ajay Rahirkar, Sameer Kulkarni and Sudhakar Chaturvedi.
 
In the presence of all the seven accused, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court Special Judge Vinod Padalkar charged them under the UAPA, IPC for terror and criminal conspiracy and murder.
 
Earlier this month, Special Judge Padalkar had rejected the pleas of the accused challenging the invoking of UAPA provisions against them, but Purohit appealed against the order in the Bombay High Court.
 
On Monday, Justice S.S. Shinde and Justice A.S. Gadkari of the Bombay High Court declined to grant any relief to Purohit.
 
The judges said they were not inclined to grant a stay on the framing of terror charges against the accused, but posted his plea against the Special NIA Court's ruling for hearing on Nov. 21.
 
On September 29, 2008, at least six persons were killed and over a hundred injured when a bomb planted on a motorcycle exploded outside a mosque in the Muslim-dominated Malegaon town in Nashik district.
 
A dozen persons were arrested in the case by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and, in early 2011, the case was handed over to the NIA.
 
The other accused facing lesser charges are: Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyamlal Sahu, Rakesh Dhawade, Jagdish Mhatre and Pravin Mutalik.
 
IANS
 

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‘Institutes of eminence’ to fill gaps in quality of education in India, says Kovind

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President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday said that, despite having a massive network of 903 universities and 39,050 colleges, India was faced with gaps in quality and in attaining world-class excellence across the spectrum.
 
Addressing the 15th convocation of the Symbiosis International University here, Mr Kovind said it was in this context that the government took the decision to promote and support 20 institutions of higher education as “institutes of eminence” – to grant them recruitment and curricula flexibility in order to reach best-in-class global standards.
 
He urged the administrators, professors and students and alumni of Symbiosis to aim to build and locate at least one such “institute of eminence” at their University.
 
“It is a matter of pride for us that India has been a centre of learning for centuries. From Taxila to Nalanda, the subcontinent’s age-old universities attracted students from different parts of Asia and beyond.
 
“In modern times as well our campuses have been open to and welcoming of talented young people from many countries, especially those in our neighbourhood and in Africa – a continent with which we have a special relationship, shaped in classrooms,” he said.
 
“It is worth noting that 46,144 international students from 166 countries study in various colleges, universities and institutions of higher learning in India. Symbiosis plays a significant role in this process. He was happy to note that over 1,000 international students study in Symbiosis. Of those who graduating today, 329 students are from 33 countries other than India.
 
“This adds to the multicultural and cosmopolitan atmosphere of Symbiosis’s campus, and promotes goodwill among nations,” he said.
 
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Eight killed in Maharashtra accident

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At least eight passengers were killed when a private bus in which they were travelling rammed into a stationary truck on the Pune-Aurangabad highway, on Monday, an official said.
 
According to Ahmednagar Police Control official Riyad Inamdar, the incident occurred at around 5.20 a.m. when the bus was speeding from Aurangabad to Pune.
 
When the bus approached the Wadegavhan area, it suddenly lost control and banged into the truck parked beside the highway.
 
The victims died on the spot while over a dozen injured have been rushed to hospitals in Shirur, Inamdar said.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Kovind to visit Maharashtra on October 22-23

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President Ram Nath Kovind will pay a two-day visit to Maharashtra on October 22-23, an official press release said here today.
 
Tomorrow, the President will inaugurate the Vishwashanti Ahimsa Sammelan being organised by the Bhagwan Shri Rishabhdev 108 Feet Vishalkai Digambar Jain Murti Nirman Committee at Mangi Tungi, Nasik. 
 
On October 23, the President will grace the convocation ceremony of the Symbiosis International University in Pune, the release added.
 
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Bring law to build Ram temple at Ayodhya: Bhagwat

Raking up the pet saffron agenda ahead of next year's Lok Sabha polls, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday pitched for a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya "at the earliest" through law and accused "fundamentalist forces" of obstructing the process.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses during the annual Vijayadashami celebration of the RSS at its headquarters in Nagpur on October 18, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses during the annual Vijayadashami celebration of the RSS at its headquarters in Nagpur on October 18, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
Raking up the pet saffron agenda ahead of next year's Lok Sabha polls, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday pitched for a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya "at the earliest" through law and accused "fundamentalist forces" of obstructing the process.
 
Delivering his Vijayadashami speech on the 93rd foundation day of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, he also criticized the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala entry for women of all ages while touching upon internal and external security issues. 
 
"The Ram temple must be constructed at the earliest at Ramjanmbhoomi. It should not be delayed any more. The decision should be taken at the earliest. We say the government should bring legislation and construct Ram temple. Whatever steps would be taken by sants in this regard, we will stand by them," he said.
 
"Lord Ram does not belong to any community. He is not about Hindus and Muslims. He is an icon of India. His temple must be constructed, be it any way. The government should bring legislation." 
 
Bhagwat's remarks assume significance against the backdrop of the Supreme Court deciding to begin hearing the title suit of the Ayodhya dispute from October 29. The VHP has decided to launch a mass campaign in favour of building a temple. 
 
The RSS chief said a place was yet to be allotted for construction of the temple although all kinds of evidence have affirmed that there was a temple at "that place" -- where the 16th century Babri Masjid stood until it was razed on December 6, 1992. 
 
"The matter is in court. It is getting delayed and delayed. How long it will be delayed? The Hindu society is waiting since long for the construction of the temple. People know the facts about it. But some people do politics on it. They are trying to delay the process. Had politics not been there, the temple would have been constructed long ago. It could have been constructed with the cooperation and coordination of all," he said.
 
He said there was "an obvious game plan of a few elements" to stall a judicial ruling. Constructing the Ram temple "will also pave the way for an atmosphere of goodwill and oneness in the country. 
 
"This matter of national interest is being obstructed by some fundamentalist elements and forces that play communal politics. Despite such machination, the decision regarding the ownership of the land should be expedited and the government should clear the path for the construction of the grand Ram temple through appropriate and requisite law."
 
Speaking on national security, Bhagwat said India needs to become self-reliant in defence production and emphasised that it should get technology and enhance domestic capacity.
 
"Border security and internal security are issues of foremost consideration as they ensure space and opportunity to the nation for prosperity and development. 
 
"Fruitful efforts have been made to entwine the web of international relations by appraising the nations with our security concerns and getting their cooperation," he said.
 
While the government and the armed forces have displayed "clear intent to maintain peaceful and cordial relations with all countries, including neighbours", it was necessary to remain firm and make prudent use of Indian capabilities while taking bold actions wherever necessary, he said.
 
For this, Bhagwat said efforts were on to enhance the morale of the armed forces to make them well-equipped with the latest technologies, which is one reason India's prestige was rising in the world.
 
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Commenting on border skirmishes, the RSS chief said the newly-formed government in Pakistan had not led to any decline in its "overt and covert provocative activities" in states like Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab ... "which was neither expected nor happened".
 
"We have to save ourselves, we need to become so strong that those who plan an attack will not dare to do so."
 
He added that security without "total self-reliance" in defence production cannot be assured and the pace of national efforts in that direction must be accelerated while continuing with the international multilateral exchanges wherever required.
 
On the protests over the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, he said the Supreme Court verdict had not taken into consideration the nature and premise of the tradition that had been accepted by society. 
 
"The decisions taken without considering all aspects will neither be adopted in actual practice nor will they help in creating a new social order in tune with changing times and positions.
 
"The idea was to have gender equality, which is fine. However, there should have been talks (with the followers of the tradition). The faith of crores of devotees was not taken into account," he said.
 
In his 90-minute speech, Bhagwat cautioned against Urban Maoism and charged that it was propagating falsehood and spreading hatred in the society.
 
"The actual presence of Jihadi and terrorist elements in one way or other in such incidents is a common factor among all these. So the emerging conclusion is, this is a bigger canny conspiracy in collusion with forces from within and outside the country. 
 
"It no more remains just a power politics by the opposition, but in this process, politically ambitious individuals and groups and weaker sections crushed under deprivation and neglect get drawn as ammunition unknowingly or unwillingly," he said.
 
Child rights activist and Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi was the chief guest at this year's programme.
 
IANS
 

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GI tag for Alphonso mango from Konkan region

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The famous Alphonso mango from Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Palghar, Thane and Raigad districts of  Maharashtra, has got a Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
 
Geographical Indication is an indication used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality, an official press release said.
 
Darjeeling Tea, Mahabaleshwar Strawberry, Blue Pottery of Jaipur, Banarasi Sarees and Tirupati Laddus are some of the GI products.
 
"GI products can benefit the rural economy in remote areas, by supplementing the incomes of artisans, farmers, weavers and craftsmen. Our rural artisans possess unique skills and knowledge of traditional practices and methods, passed down from generation to generation, which needs to be protected and promoted," the release said.
 
Recently, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu had launched the logo and tagline for the Geographical Indications (GI) of India and said GI will give the rightful share in the intellectual property to the artisan and the place of origin of the product.
 
He emphasised that it is an area of strength and optimism for India, as the GI tag has given protection to a large number of hand-made and manufactured products, especially in the informal sector.
 
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has taken several initiatives in this regard and is actively involved in the promotion and marketing of GIs with a vision to enhance the horizon both socially and economically for GI producers, the release said.
 
The king of mangoes, Alphonso, better known as ‘Hapus’ in Maharashtra, is in demand in domestic and international markets not only for its taste but also for pleasant fragrance and vibrant colour. It has long been one of the world's most popular fruits and is exported to various countries including Japan, Korea and Europe. New markets such as USA and Australia have recently opened up.
 
The first product to get a GI tag in India was the Darjeeling tea in 2004. There are a total of 325 products from India that carry this indication.
 
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SC declines SIT probe, says arrests not for dissent

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In a 2:1 majority judgement, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere in the arrest of five activists in the Bhima Koregaon case in Maharashtra. It also declined to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT), allowing Pune police to go ahead with its probe.
 
The house arrest of the five rights activists -- Sudha Bhardwaj, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira -- will continue for four more weeks, said a majority judgement, read out by Justice A. M. Khanwilkar also on behalf of Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
 
He said that in perusal of documents submitted before the bench it was not a case of arrest merely because of dissent or difference in political views.
 
In a dissenting judgement, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud said liberty cherished by the Constitution would have no meaning if persecution of the five rights activists were allowed without a proper investigation.
 
Justice Chandrachud lashed out at the Pune police for going public with evidence and termed it as disconcerting behaviour.
 
Rejecting the plea seeking the SIT probe into charges that the five have links with banned CPI (Maoist) outfil and were allegedly involved in a conspiracy to kill sovereign leaders, the bench said: "The accused person cannot have a choice in the investigating agency."
 
However, Justice Khanwilkar said that the accused were at liberty to pursue appropriate legal relief. 
 
As the bench extended its interim order putting them under house arrest, in his dissenting judgment Justice Chandrachud recalled the sequence of events when a senior police officer held a press conference and released letters. 
 
Justice Chandrachud said that the impartiality of the Maharashtra Police was in doubt as it had tried to prejudice public opinion. He questioned "whether the Maharashtra Police can be trusted to carry out impartial investigation".
 
He ordered a court-monitored SIT probe and said that the technicalities of law cannot be allowed to override the substantive justice. 
 
IANS
 

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Maharashtra town stages 'silent protest' against minor's rape

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Hundreds of people staged a silent protest outside the Collectorate here on Monday, demanding justice for a 10-year-old victim of rape.
 
The locals, carrying banners and placards, started from various places in the town, converged at the centrally located Gandhi Maidan and later staged a sit-in there.
 
They were protesting against the brutal abduction, assault and rape of the girl by a neighbour, identified as 24-year-old Latif Syed.
 
The incident happened late in August when the girl was playing alone outside her home in Tofkhana locality.
 
Nearly a fortnight later, on Saturday, the terrified girl finally gathered courage to narrate her plight to her parents who sought help from other villagers.
 
They immediately trooped to the home of the accused, caught him and dragged him to the police station.
 
The locals decided to draw the attention of the government by organising a silent procession to the Collectorate on Monday.
 
They demanded that the case be investigated on priority, the accused be tried in a fast-track court, eminent criminal lawyer Ujjwal Nikam should be named the public prosecutor and the victim should be entitled to compensation by the government.
 
IANS

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Familiarisation flight lands at greenfield airport at Sindhudrg in Maharashtra

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A familiarization flight from Mumbai to Sindhudurg landed today at Parule Chipi greenfield airport in Sindhudurg district of the Konkan region of Maharashtra. 
 
With this successful test flight, access to the Konkan coast of Maharashtra will become easier and some of Maharashtra’s top tourist attractions will become accessible to visitors from all over India, an official press release said.
 
Commercial flights to Sindhudurg will become operational from December this year, it said.
 
The airport is located between Malvan and Vengurla, and the Tarkarli beach and Sindhudurg fort are 20 kms away. The commissioning of this airport also improves accessibility to North Goa. The beaches of Tiracol, Arambol and Mandrem are equidistant from Goa’s Dabolim airport.
 
The 2,500-metre runway will be able to handle aircrafts like the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. The terminal building has the capacity to handle 400 passengers at its peak.
 
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has asked the airport management company and Maharashtra State Government to resolve the pending issues related to ILS and VOR installation so that regular operations could begin on schedule.
 
The co-pilot of the flight was a local girl from Devgad in Sindhudurg district, the release added.
 
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Petrol touches Rs 90.11 in Maharashtra's Parbhani

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Petrol prices on Tuesday breached the psychological barrier of Rs 90 and touched a scorching Rs 90.11 in Maharashtra's Parbhani - a new record in India, an official said.
 
Parbhani District Petrol Dealers Association (PDPDA) President Sanjay Deshmukh told IANS that diesel prices also increased from Rs 77.92 to Rs 78.06 on Tuesday.
 
On Monday, the petrol price was Rs 89.97 and diesel stood at Rs 77.92 in the town with a population of around 3,10,000, around 500 kms east of Mumbai in Marathwada region.
 
On the 15th day of consecutive hikes, petrol prices increased on Tuesday by Rs 0.14 and diesel by Rs 0.15, from 6 a.m, barely two days before the state's biggest 10-day Ganeshotsav festival begins.
 
The other highest centres include Nanded where petrol was retailing at Rs 89.93 per litre and diesel Rs 77.90, and Amravati Rs 89.93 and Rs 78.84.
 
Elsewhere in Maharashtra, in Thane petrol retailed at Rs 88.43 and diesel Rs 77.64. In Mumbai, petrol was selling at Rs 88.35 and diesel at Rs 77.56.
 
On Monday, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party termed the hike in petroleum products as a 'momentary difficulty' owing to an international crisis after the Opposition parties in the country observed a Bharat Bandh, to protest the skyrocketing fuel prices.
 
IANS
 

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Two dead amid 'dahi-handi' celebrations in Maharashtra

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At least two persons were killed, one is reported missing and more than 85 were injured in various incidents as Maharashtra witnessed "dahi-handi" celebrations in Mumbai and others parts of the state on Monday.
 
One youth died in a "dahi-handi" related incident in Sion, central Mumbai, while another drowned in Bhayander in Thane. One youth is missing in the Arabian Sea at Versova Beach in Andheri, while four were rescued.
 
Besides, at least 87 youngsters fell and were injured at various venues while forming human pyramids, the BMC Disaster Control said.
 
Earlier, Lord Krishna's birthday was heralded amid prayers, chanting of hymns, ringing bells and "aartis" at the two main venues in Mumbai, the ISKCON temples in Chowpatty and Juhu, at midnight of Sunday-Monday, with a welcome drizzle in many parts of Mumbai.
 
"Thousands of devotees prayed here. The temple is decorated with a Rajasthani theme and has 1,008 items offered to Lord Krishna as 'bhog' today, prepared by over 500 volunteers," said ISKCON Radha Chowpatty head, Radhanath Swami.
 
"Dahi-handi" festivities started in a big way with big and small "Govinda" groups of men and women, attired in colourful clothes, fanned out all over the city to try their "pot luck", with film stars like Raveena Tandon, Suniel Shetty, Varun Kapoor, and many more joining the celebrations, and Maharashtrian "laavni" dance performers regaling the crowds.
 
Thousands of "Govindas" also trooped out in other cities like Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur and others to form human pyramids and break the dahi-handi, an earthen pot having a deliious mixture of curd and butter, commemorating the birth and symbolizing the spirit of Lord Krishna.
 
At many major venues in Borivali, Andheri, Dadar, Ghatkopar, Mulund and others, the govindas attempted to build up around five tiers to grab the dahi-handi pot, and safety measures were evident. In some venues in Mumbai and Thane, the pyramids were as tall as nine tiers.
 
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Among several large groups having political backing, the emphasis this year was less on doling out huge prize monies, but more on deriving hefty political mileage, with eyes on the 2019 general elections.
 
"This is the first year it is being celebrated as a 'sport' event with the participation of around 1,000 registered organisations in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts. They must strictly adhere to all safety precautions," Bala Padelkar, head of Dahi-Handi Coordination Committee, told IANS.
 
However, watchdog Lok Jagruti Samajik Sanstha President Swati Patil said in most venues, safety measures were blatantly flouted and children aged below 14 were being foisted on top of the human pyramids.
 
"During a practice session in Khar four days ago, 12-year old Chirag Patekar from Khar fell and is in a coma at a Bandra hospital. Who is responsible for his future now?" Patil asked. The Mumbai BJP has announced Rs 100,000 assistance to the boy's family.
 
She accused several groups and organisers in Dadar and Chembur of flouting the Bombay High Court directives by not providing safety belts and harnesses.
 
At a venue in Dadar, after forming the pyramids, the govindas saluted the martyred soldiers, while in one group in Walkeshwar, south Mumbai, the topmost govinda was clad in an Army-style suit in a tribute to Indian soldiers.
 
Some organisations and groups also announced donations of their full or part winnings to the victims of the recent Kerala floods.
 
IANS
 

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MoU signed for new Indore-Manmad railway line project

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A memorandum of understanding (MoU) for implementation of the new 362 km Indore- Manmad railway line project was signed here on Tuesday between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Ministry of Railways and the State Governments of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
 
Containers and other rail traffic from Indore and other Central Indian locations earlier had to follow a circuitous route through Vadodara and Surat to reach Mumbai, Pune and ports like JNPT, travelling a distance of 815 km. 
 
The new project will reduce the distance from Mumbai/Pune to key central India locations by 171 km, resulting in lower logistics costs, an official press release said.
 
This is especially significant as the new railway line will pass through the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor nodes of Igatpuri, Nashik and Sinnar; Pune and Khed; and Dhule and Nardana, it said.
 
The MoU was signed in the presence of  Minister of  Shipping, Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari,  Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, and Chief Ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh) and Devendra Phadnavis (Maharashtra). 
 
The implementation of the project will be through the Indian Port Rail Corporation Limited (IPRCL) on Joint Venture  SPV model. A joint venture company will be formed between the Ministry of Shipping or its nominated PSUs/entity including JNPT (which will be the main promoter) with an equity share of 55%. The government of Maharashtra or its nominated PSUs/entity, Government of Madhya Pradesh or its nominated PSUs/entity, and others will have an equity share of 15% each.
 
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Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Gadkari hailed the signing of the MoU as a major step towards the development of backward areas of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra through which the new railway line will pass.
 
The project is estimated to result in cumulative net economic benefits of Rs 15,000 crore in the first ten years of operations. The logistics advantages of the project include providing a shorter route for the passenger as well as the freight traffic originating from / terminating at/or crossing through the region.
 
It will reduce the logistics cost for the cargo centres located in Northern India such as Lucknow, Agra, Gwalior and Kanpur belt as well as Indore – Dhule – Bhopal region to the gateway ports JNPT and Mumbai. It will provide an alternate route to the existing central and western railway lines and reduce congestion on the over utilized existing railway network.
 
The Minister pointed out that the project, to be completed within six years, will help in employment generation, reduction in pollution, fuel consumption and vehicle operating costs.
 
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Hackers siphon Rs 94 crore from Pune's Cosmos Bank via ATMs in 28 countries

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The banking sector was rattled again when hackers siphoned off a whopping Rs 94.42 crore from the Cosmos Cooperative Bank Ltd - the second oldest and second biggest cooperative bank in India - to foreign and domestic bank accounts, officials said on Tuesday.
 
Shockingly, the Cosmos Bank admitted that it was "cyber-attacked twice, first on Saturday and again on Monday" -- with ATM withdrawals taking place in at least 28 countries, according to an FIR lodged by a senior official with Chaturshringi Police Station.
 
The police complaint said the first attack took place on August 11 between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. and the second on August 13 around 11.30 a.m., affecting its headquarters on Ganeshkhind Road.
 
"We have appointed a professional forensic agency to investigate this malware attack. It will submit its report in the next few days regarding the modus operandi of this and the exact amounts involved," Chairman Milind A. Kale told the media.
 
He said that normally, the Core Banking System (CBS) receives debit card payment requests via its "switching system". But during the malware attack, a proxy switch was created and all the fraudulent payment approvals were passed through the proxy switching system.
 
On Saturday, around Rs 78 crore was withdrawn through ATMs located in 28 countries through 12,000 Visa card transactions, Kale added. These were transferred out of the country, including bank accounts in Hong Kong.
 
Another amount of Rs 2.50 crore from 2,849 transactions was transferred within India, details of which were being investigated by the police.
 
The cyber attack came to light on Saturday when the bank noticed "unusual repeated transactions taking place through its Visa and Rupay Debit Card Payment System", Kale said.
 
As soon as these suspicious transactions were reported, the bank reacted by clamping a shutdown on its Visa and Rupay debit card payment systems pending investigation.
 
A police officer said that during those hours, some unknown persons hacked into the ATM Switch (servers) at the bank's headquarters and acquired the sensitive data of its Visa and RuPay debit card customers.
 
However, in a fresh attack on Monday (August 13), the hackers initiated SWIFT transactions and transferred Rs 13.92 crore to the accounts of a company, ALM Trading Ltd, with Hang Seng Bank, Hong Kong. The amounts were soon withdrawn from that bank.
 
Kale pointed out that since the malware attack was on the Switch System which is operative for the payment gateway of Visa/Rupay debit cards and not on the Cosmos Bank's CBS, "the customers' accounts and their balances are not at all affected.
 
"None of the fraudulent transactions is debited to any customer accounts and will not be debited in future too. The Savings, Term Deposits and Recurring accounts of the depositors are totally safe," Kale assured, urging customers not to panic.
 
He said the bank's servers and other systems were inspected annually by the RBI Audit and System Audit. The Cosmos Bank was ensuring all the measures for data security and this security system was fully operational.
 
Established in 1906, the Pune-headquartered Cosmos Bank is the second oldest and second biggest cooperative bank in the India, enjoying the status of a multi-state scheduled bank.
 
IANS
 

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