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Print News from Round the World

14 March 2017

In this regular feature, we bring you the news of the industry as they appear in mainstream publications. The week, we cover Naroda press moves HC for protection; Army papers leaked from Nagpur press; fire in Kolkata; four arrested for murder of press owner in Hyderabad; Currency printing press makes profit; fake Rs 2,000 notes are of low quality; and Pearson reports biggest loss in its history.

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Press in paper leak scandal moves HC for protection

Gujarat High Court on 1o February issued notices to the state government and Bihar police, in response to a petition filed by the owner of printing press, Confisec. The press is allegedly involved in leaking the question papers of Bihar Staff Selection Commission (BSSC) exams. The press moved the high court for direction to the state authorities and Bihar police not to seal its printing facility situated in Naroda, Ahmedabad. It apprehends sealing following the arrest of the director of the printing press Vineet Agarwal on February 25.

The petitioner sought legal protection on the ground that it has a work order of printing 50 to 70 lakh copies of question papers for different recruiting agencies from various states across the country. If question papers are not supplied in time, it could adversely affect the future of job aspirants.

The Bihar police had begun investigation of the paper leak scam following recovery of leaked question papers from a place falling under Agamkuan police station in Patna. The probe led to implication of officials of the commission, including its chairman and 1987-batch IAS officer Sudhir Kumar. Their interrogation further led to the exposure of people from the printing facility in Ahmedabad suspected to be involved in the scam.

In the first week of February, nearly 100 angry students staged violent demonstrations in front of the commission's office in Patna against the alleged leak of question papers. They even beat up BSSC secretary Parameshwar Ram. (The Times of India)

Army question papers leaked from Nagpur press, says police

The Army recruitment question papers were leaked from a printing press in Nagpur, said a police officer from the Thane crime branch. The police also named the three accused — Nigamkumar Pandey, Dharam Singh and Ravindra Kumar — who work at the clerk-level with the Army base in Nagpur. “We have sent a letter to the Army headquarters with the details of the accused and their role in the scam,” said Thane police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

After the incident came to light on Sunday, the police found out that the question papers — sent to the examination centres in CDs with a security code — was leaked at a printing press at Nagpur.

The Thane police commissioner said that Kumar had struck a deal first in March 2016 for the question papers. His sources in the Army who leaked the papers to him had charged him Rs 50 lakh for it. “At that time, seven of the 50 questions in the paper were leaked out to 50 candidates who took their exams in Bhandara and Nagpur. Of them, 48 managed to pass the exam. This time the bargain was struck at Rs 1.35 crore for the question papers,” said Singh.

The papers were initially leaked by one Dhaklu Patil, a clerk with the Assam Rifle regiment. He would then send the papers to arrested accused Santosh Shinde.” Shinde was responsible for distributing the leaked papers among candidates of different centres. He would operate and keep a track of his clients through WhatsApp groups. The police also confirmed that the accused had links with 17-18 military academies, which are now under the scanner. (The Hindustan Times)

Fire in printing press, no casualty

A fire broke out in a printing press in a congested area of eastern Kolkata's Beliaghata on 26 February, the police said. No casualty was reported.

At least six fire tenders were pressed into service after the blaze was noticed at the printing press, located on Canal South Road, around 4 pm. The fire quickly spread to adjacent rooms used to store rubber and wooden materials, fire department officials said. (Business Standard)

Four more arrested for murder of printing press owner

The Hussaini Alam police in Hyderabad recently arrested four more persons, who were allegedly involved in the murder of a printing press owner committed in October last year. So far, 11 persons have been arrested in the case. The police nabbed Mohammed Amanullah Shareef, the younger brother of prime accused and lawyer Mujeebullah Shareef, at Dargah Yousufain in Nampally.

Amanullah then told the names of three other accused — Mohammed Imran, Mohammed Quadeer and Mohammed Yaseen. They were picked up in Kishan Bagh. Mujeebullah Shareef, his four brothers, his driver and eight others plotted Baig's murder. On 3 October 2016, five armed assailants intercepted the Maruti Omni vehicle which Baig was driving. They dragged him out of the vehicle and allegedly stabbed him to death. Mujeebullah is still absconding. (The Times of India)

Currency printing press makes profit, clear all debts

The government’s currency-printing press, Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India (SPMCIL), has made a 100% profit and is now completely debt-free, owing to demonetisation, which has translated to big business.

SPMCIL has also contributed to Centre’s kitty in the form of dividend this year, finance minister Arun Jaitley said recently. “If ever a research is done on demonetisation, a chapter would talk about printing speed, also keeping secretive printing done in advance,” Jaitley said, as he reiterated that normalcy in currency operations has been restored. (Deccan Herald)

Pearson reports biggest loss in its history

Pearson has reported a pre-tax loss of 2.6 billion pound for 2016, the biggest in its history, after a slump at its US education operation. The world’s largest education publisher, which in January saw almost 2 billion pound wiped from its stock market value after issuing its fifth profit warning in two years, reported the record loss after taking a 2.55 billion pound non-cash charge for ‘impairment of goodwill reflecting trading pressures’ in its North American businesses.

A spokesman said the charge related mainly to historic acquisitions of Simon & Schuster Education and National Computer Systems, purchased in 1998 and 2000 respectively, as a ‘necessary consequence’ of the lower profit expectations announced last month.

In January, the company slashed its profit forecast for this year by 180 million pound and scrapped its target of 800 million pound for next year. It also announced that it planned to sell its stake in the world’s largest book publisher, Penguin Random House, to strengthen its balance sheet.

The profit warning was prompted by the collapse of its US higher education business, which is struggling with a decline in textbook sales and the transition to digital learning. The US business accounts for two-thirds of Pearson’s revenues and profits.

The news earlier this year led to Pearson’s biggest ever one-day share price fall and prompted speculation that John Fallon, the chief executive, may be forced out of the company. (The Guardian)

NIA says seized Rs 2,000 fake notes are of low quality

The National Investigation Agency’s detailed forensic analysis of recently seized counterfeits of the new Rs 2,000 currency note has shown that these were low quality fakes generated through ‘computer manipulated prints’ and ‘colour copies’.

The findings run contrary to the initial alarm it raised when NIA seized these notes from a known courier in Malda, West Bengal, leading to speculation that most security features had been compromised.

NIA’s forensic report has described that the notes as counterfeit but not categorised as high quality. Investigative agencies like NIA usually concentrate on cases with high-quality fakes as they point to an organised syndicate with sophisticated printing capability.

Of some 17 features in the new Rs 2,000, the forensic analysis has found the note’s length and width were accurate. That apart, the final reports states, the main and hidden watermarks as well as the electrotype watermark is ‘imitated’.

The report states that the paper was ‘optically inactive’ and the fluorescent fibre as well as the tint band was ‘not present’. The numbering is also ‘not fluorescent.’ The security thread, according to the report, is ‘partly present’ and doesn’t continue on to the reverse side. (The Economic Times)

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