Thursday, December 31, 2015

Kiss protestors clash with Hanuman Sena activists in Kozhikode


KOZHIKODE: A clash broke out between the kiss protestors and Hanuman Sena activists in Kozhikode. The Kiss Street protest was organised by the Njattuvela Samaskarika Pravarthaka Sangham to react against Fascism.

A tense situation broke out after the Hanuman Sena activists came forward opposing the protest. In the melee, the police resorted to lathicharge.

The protestors were arrested and removed from the place.  More police force reached the spot and eased the situation.

Second part of Pay Commission submitted

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Second part of the Pay Commission was submitted to the government on Thursday. Justice C N Ramachandran handed over the report to the chief minister. Significantly, there is instruction in it to make punching system more effective in government offices.   

According to instructions in the report, salaries of late comers among the office staff should be cut. Superior officers should evaluate the subordinate officers’ performance and prepare Performance report every month. Promotions should not be merely based on seniority, the employees’ qualification and excellence should also be considered for that.

“Public holidays should be reduced to 15 from 25. Casual leaves should be reduced to 15 from 20. Restricted leaves should be 10. The government should ensure that there are 285 working days in a year. Recruitments to government services should be made twice in a year. Service Selection Board should be inducted to oversee the recruitment to important posts. Exams should be held in two phases and the time limit for Dependants law should be reduced to three years. Redeployment of excess staff should be implemented. Unnecessary deputation in the Secretariat should be avoided. Only department heads to should be allowed to use government vehicles. Medical insurance for the employees should also be ensured,” the report says.  

Water authority pay revision report was also submitted in the day. It instructed that driver post should be changed into driver cum peon post.

Kiss protestors clash with Hanuman Sena activists in Kozhikode

 
KOZHIKODE: A clash broke out between the kiss protestors and Hanuman Sena activists in Kozhikode. The Kiss Street protest was organised by the Njattuvela Samaskarika Pravarthaka Sangham to react against Fascism.

A tense situation broke out after the Hanuman Sena activists came forward opposing the protest. In the melee, the police resorted to lathicharge.

The protestors were arrested and removed from the place.  More police force reached the spot and eased the situation.

Discussion with UDF allies successful, says Sudheeran

THIRUVANANTHAPURAN: KPCC president V M Sudheeran has said that the discussion held by the Congress with its UDF allies was a success. “The discussion held in the presence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi has benefitted the UDF. The party will ensure complete inner unity. No activity that will spoil the unity will be allowed,” said Sudheeran at a press conference held jointly by Congress leaders.    

Sudheeran said the Congress will strengthen the ties with UDF allies and will start election work with a common goal in mind. ‘Janaraksha Yatra’ to be led by the KPCC president will begin from Kasargod Kumbala on January 4 and will end in Thiruvananthapuram on February 9.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala were the other main participants in the press conference.  

Sudheeran and Oommen Chandy, however, agreed that there were flaws in UDF’s approach to the Civic polls. Chandy said success of Jana Raksha Yatra and united approach for winning the Assembly election were the need of the hour. He also added there was no bargain in the party over chief ministerial candidate.  

Ramesh Chennithala said the main mission of the UDF would to ensure continuity in governance. For that, the party activists should burry their differences and work unitedly.

Attack on Nitta Gelatin: Charge sheet filed

KOCHI: In the case related to attack on Ernakulam Nitta Gelatin India Ltd (NGIL), the police have submitted the charge sheet. This is the first charge sheet in the case. It has been filed against the first five accused.

In the charge sheet, the police have alleged that the accused are CPI Maoist members. The charge sheet has been filed against Arun Balan, Sreekath, Jose, Ramanan and Anoop. The police have alleged that the above five had indulged themselves in anti-national activities and hence they were a threat to national security.

It was in November 2011, NGIL office at Ernakulam Panampilly Nagar was allegedly damaged by the accused. The police’ claim was that Maoists were behind the attack. They also claimed to have recovered Maoist pamphlets from the incident spot.   

Well ahead of the incident, the company was in the news as locals had risen in protest against it, alleging that it dumped huge quantities of factory waste into Kathikudathu River near Chalakkudy. 

Father arrested for ‘harassing’ daughter

PALODE: Based a complaint that an eight standard girl student was harassed by her father, the Palode police arrested the accused on Thursday. The arrested person is Bhaskaran (48) from Perayam Thadakattharikatthu house.

The incident came to light during a counselling session in her school. The girl confided to her counsellors what had happened to her. Soon after this, Child Line workers informed the matter to the police. Bhaskaran is a rubber-tapping labourer. 

Amendment to Paddy Land filling norms will not stand: KPCC subcommittee

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: KPCC subcommittee has opined that the government’s amendment to the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act-2008 will not stand, legally.

The committee said it would be impossible to regularise all paddy lands that had been filled. A new amendment is necessary and this is possible only after discussions. The five-member committee chaired by V D Satheesan will soon submit a report to KPCC in this regard.

Earlier interpretation is different from that in the amendment.  

According to the amended rules, paddy land filling done before 2008 will have the legal validity. This would lead to extensive filling of paddy lands. Much earlier, KPCC president VM Sudheeran had asked persons concerned including Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash to avoid amending the act in a hurry.  

Use Guru’s teachings for society’s good: CM

SIVAGIRI: Making an indirect reference to government’s liquor policy that saw shutting down of bars in Kerala, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he was proud to have taken a decision on the lines of Sree Narayana Guru’s warning that liquor is poison. “It showed that we could conceive Guru’s teachings. The government will expand the research works on Guru’s teachings,” said Chandy, who was speaking at a function held in connection with Sivagiri pilgrimage.    

The chief minister said the government’s policy to discourage liquor consumption by reducing the availability of the liquor in a phased manner has got the Supreme Court’s approval. “Everyone should support the government’s initiatives for the good of society. We should respect Guru’s teachings and at the same utilise his teachings for the benefit and progress of society,” Chandy added.

Sonia leaves for New Delhi

KOCHI: After a day’s visit to Kerala, UPA chief Sonia Gandhi left for New Delhi in a special aircraft from Nedumbassery airport. Earlier, Sonia arrived at the airport from Kottayam in a helicopter. Chief Minnister Oommen Chandy and KPCC president V M Sudheeran accompanied Sonia Gandhi. 

Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, Fisheries Minister K Babu, Congress leader Mukul Wasnik, Prof. K V Thomas MP, Vayalar Ravi MP and MLAs Anwar Sadath, Hibi Eden, V P Sajeendran and Mayor Saumini Jain went to the airport to see Sonia off.

Vellappally hits out at Sonia Gandhi

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a veiled attack on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan said that she has contaminated Sivagiri. The party has used Sivagiri as their campaign venue, alleged Vellappally. He said this while responding to Sonia’s statement at the inaugural function of the Sivagiri pilgrimage yesterday.

Vellappally said SNDP is not a feeder organization of the Congress and it is not Sonia who has to decide to whom all we should cooperate. Her speech in Sivagiri was meanness. The party is criticizing us as I am not supporting them, he said.

Vigilance raid at check posts

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A flash raid is being conducted by the vigilance at the check posts of the state. Unaccounted cash has been seized in the raid which started at 7 am Thursday under the name ‘Operation Nikuthi’. The raid was conducted as per the instruction of vigilance ADGP Shankar Reddy following hints that officials are accepting money and gifts in check posts as part of New Year Celebrations.

Unaccounted cash of Rs 3000 has been seized from the Palakkad Walayar Check Post, Rs 7000 from Aryankavu Check Post and Rs 21,000 from Kozhikode Vadakara Azhiyoor Check Post. The cash seized from Azhiyoor Check Post was found hidden under the files. Three officials have been suspended in connection with the incident. Though a raid was conducted at Muthanga in Wayanad, Kasargod Manjeswaram and Thiruvananthapuram check posts, no cash has been seized so far.

A raid is being conducted at the check posts of excise, sales tax and motor vehicle departments in the borders of the state. ADGP directed for the raid as there were complaints that big amount of cash is being collected from vehicle owners.

Irregularities of various kinds have been found in many check posts.

Kummanam’s Kerala Yatra will begin from Manjeswaram on Jan 20

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: BJP State secretary Kummanam Rajasekharan will start his Kerala yatra from Manjeswaram on January 20. The yatra will end in Thiruvananthapuram on February 9.    

BJP State council meeting held today also decided to convene Working committee meetings in all Assembly constituencies from January 5 to 13. Meanwhile, the name for the yatra is not disclosed yet.

The yatra will be held as a precursor to Assembly election. The meeting has also decided to prepare a ‘charge sheet’ against the two Fronts and read them out in the public. For the election campaign, full-time party workers will be deployed in all 140 Assembly constituencies. It has also been decided to form an expert committee to prepare a draft on party’s political prospects in Kerala.    

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

No confusion over VS’ candidature, decision soon: Karat

KOLKATA: CPM Politburo member and former party general secretary Prakash Karat has said that there is no confusion over the candidature of V S Achuthanandan in the Assembly election and a final decision in this regard will be taken soon.

“The representation of women in the party will be increased to 25 percent. The decision of the party is to give more membership to women. At the time of distribution of membership, steps will be taken according to the criteria required for this,” he said.

The communist leader said interior democracy of the party would be strengthened. “The aim is to wipe off Trinamool party from West Bengal. The Bengal unit and Politburo will discuss this issue. The party would also contemplate on joining hands with the Congress party to destroy Trinamool,” he added.

Group politics should not cross limits: Sonia

KOTTAYAM: Congress President Sonia Gandhi has warned the party leaders that their ‘group’ activities should not cross the limits. She asked the leaders to avoid arguments in the party and move ahead unitedly. 

Significantly, heeding to the party chief’s advice, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and KPCC president V M Sudheeran will hold a joint press conference on Thursday. Earlier, the leaders of the UDF allies had convinced Sonia during their meeting with her that the UDF would receive a major blow in the coming Assembly election if it didn’t improve its unity. The Muslim League had said it plainly that the crux of the problems lay within the Congress.

Sonia’s strict instructions to Congress leaders came only after her meeting with the leaders of Muslim League, Kerala Congress and RSP.

Will improve unity: UDF allies; Will sort out problems: Sonia

KOTTAYAM: In their meeting with Sonia on Wednesday, UDF allies have made it clear that if the unity in the UDF is not improved, it is likely to face a major set-back. On the other hand no demand was made to change Chief minister Oomen Chandy’s leadership in the Front.   

It was the leaders of Muslim League, Kerala Congress and RSP who had met Sonia Gandhi at the Nattakam guest house on the sidelines of her Sivagiri mutt visit. Assuring them of steps to solve the problems among them, Sonia asked all the allies to move on with unity and cooperation.

The leaders apprised Sonia of State’s general political climate. The Muslim League leaders said the recent controversies had dented the image of the government. The main problems are within the Congress party. To this, Sonia said all issues would be solved.

Meanwhile, Kerala Congress (M) chairman K M Mani’s demanded proper representation for his party in the upcoming Assembly election. Kerala Congress (M) should get justice during seat sharing process. He squarely blamed the Congress for the UDF’s civic poll debacle. “Certain Congress leaders had made statements which had a repelling effect on minorities. This should not happen again,” Mani told the Congress chief. However he is not known to have made any complaint about two kinds of justice that were allegedly meted out to him and minister Babu in the bar bribery case. He also asked Sonia to speak out against the import of rubber in Parliament.

N K Premachandran MP said the RSP had requested Sonia to ensure unity in the UDF. “The Supreme Court order regarding bar case was a recognition for the State government. Moving forward with unity will make possible continuity in governance,” he informed Sonia.

Vigilance’ flash raid in govt offices

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A flash raid was conducted by the vigilance in government offices of the state. The raid was conducted under the name ‘Operation Kichadi’ and as per the directive of vigilance ADGP Shankar Reddy. The raid was conducted following complaints against government offices.

A complaint was lodged recently regarding the delay in disbursing the welfare fund. The main complaint was that the officials were not willing to distribute the fund even after the government sanctioned the arrears of it. The attitude of the employees towards people reaching offices were also criticized. Taking into account all these, the vigilance decided to conduct the raid.

Vigilance’ flash raid in govt offices

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A flash raid was conducted by the vigilance in government offices of the state. The raid was conducted under the name ‘Operation Kichadi’ and as per the directive of vigilance ADGP Shankar Reddy. The raid was conducted following complaints against government offices.

A complaint was lodged recently regarding the delay in disbursing the welfare fund. The main complaint was that the officials were not willing to distribute the fund even after the government sanctioned the arrears of it. The attitude of the employees towards people reaching offices were also criticized. Taking into account all these, the vigilance decided to conduct the raid.

T N Prathapan against new beer-wine parlours

KOCHI: Congress leader T N Prathapan MLA has written to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, requesting him not to issue licence to new beer-wine parlours in the State. He requested that the licences of the existing beer-wine parlours also be not renewed from the next year. The MLA wrote the letter after the Supreme Court upheld the liquor policy of the government.

“Necessary steps may be taken against Janata counters functioning in Five Star hotels and Club licences allowing VVIPs to consume liquor,” wrote Prathapan, who also gave suggestions to improve the competency of the Excise department.

“The five star hotels that supply liquor are 27 in number while there are 33 clubs. In the backdrop of the Supreme Court order, it is not right to renew the licences of clubs to serve liquor,” Prathapan pointed out in his letter.

Man arrested for acid attack


KANNUR: The police arrested a man in connection with the acid attack on a woman on the Christmas Eve at Pariyaram. The arrested has been identified as Adampoyil James (46), a resident of Pilathara. The police said that the attack was motivated by the woman’s refusal of his offer to marry her, a divorcee and mother of two children. His arrest was recorded late.

The woman, identified as Rimsy (29) of Madathil House at Embett near Pariyaram, had been seriously injured in the acid attack while she was going to the local church for the midnight mass on Christmas Eve. According to the police, the arrested, wearing Santa Claus costume, ambushed her that night and poured acid he was carrying in a bottle. She has now been admitted to a Mangalore hospital. Her seven-year old son also suffered injuries in the attack.

HC rejects Nisham’s plea

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court dismissed a petition filed by Mohammed Nisham, sole accused in the case relating to the murder of Chandrabose, a security guard in Thrissur, challenging the Thrissur First Additional Sessions Court order rejecting his plea to further cross-examine prime witness Anoop. Anoop, a colleague of Chandrabose, had earlier turned hostile while he was examined before the court. However, he later stuck to his earlier statement given to the police. He had deposed before the sessions court that he was threatened by Mohammed Nisham’s younger brother Razaq to retract from his earlier statements.

The sessions court, while rejecting Nisham’s plea for re-examination, had observed that the petition was capricious and vexatious and was filed only with the idea to protract the proceedings and prevent time-bound disposal of the case. The petition of Nisham filed in the High Court said that further cross-examination of the witness was absolutely necessary. Justice P. Ubaid, while adjourning the hearing on another petition challenging the rejection of Nisham’s plea by the sessions court to examine certain media persons, observed that it was not known what was the relevance in cross-examining these media persons. In fact, the media had been reporting the case since the commission of the offence by the accused.

Cabinet asks Governor to re-promulgate four ordinances

 
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The cabinet decided to request the Governor to re-promulgate four ordinances and promulgate one. Briefing on Cabinet decisions, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the four ordinances to be re-promulgated are the Kerala Town and Country Planning (2015), the Kerala Stamp Paper (amendment) (2015), the Kerala Anganawadi Workers and Anganawadi Helpers (2015), the Kerala Land Tax (amendment) (2015). The ordinance to be promulgated is the Kerala Panchayat Raj (third amendment) (2015).

Four Keralites including woman joined ISIS: Report

NEW DELHI: According to an Intelligence report, a 24-year-old woman hailing from Kozhikode has joined jihadist militant group ISIS. Besides her, three other Malayali youths also have joined the group.

The about developments were first reported by a national newspaper. It is Kozhikode native Hudha Raheem who has joined ISIS. The others are Kannur natives Muhammed Rishal, Muhammed Irfan Iqbal and Kozhikode native Riyazoor Rahman.

Another woman from Hyderabad is also said to have enrolled herself in the ISIS. She is 18-year-old Seba Farheen. Including the above, 23 Indians are currently working with the ISIS, out of which 17 are North Indians.

The report says, in the terror group, there are six persons from Karnataka, four persons from Telangana and Andhra, three from Tamil Nadu, four from Maharashtra and one each from Jammu Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh.

Among the ISS Indians, six persons are reportedly killed while two returned to India. Those who have joined the ISIS are operating from Syria and Iraq. Police had, the other day, arrested three persons from Telangana for their alleged ISIS links. Information about the others was received from them. 

Sonia makes veiled attack on BJP at Sivagiri mutt

SIVAGIRI: In a veiled attack on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress President Sonia Gandhi Wednesday said that attempts were being made to "capture" the legacy of renowned social reformer Sree Narayana Guru by "communal ideologies and individuals" for political gain

She also said there were attempts to communalise the Guru's teachings and this amounts to 'betraying' him

"I believe that there can be no greater betrayal of Sree Narayana Guru than the attempts being made to capture his legacy by communal ideologies and individuals whose motive is political power by spreading prejudice, bigotry and dividing our diverse society," Gandhi said in her inaugural address at the 83rd annual pilgrimage at Narayana Guru's abode at Sivagiri mutt here.

Her comments assume significance against the background of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sangam (SNDP) yogam, an organisation of the numerically strong backward Ezhava community, entering into a tie-up with the BJP in south Indian state of Kerala where Assembly elections are due next year Gandhi said the Guru believed in respect to all faiths and motivated his followers to respect all religions

In 1924, at a congregation in Aluva in Ernakulam he had stressed "the need to abstain from religious conflict and to promote universal peace, harmony and prosperity of all religions," she added. The Guru established the Sivagiri mutt as a prime symbol of social reformation and social equality.

Narayana Guru's teachings of equality, liberty and social justice were of "vital relevance even today," she said, adding, "in fact I would say that they are (teachings) are more relevant today."

Gandhi also said that it was sad that caste discrimination still existed in the country.

"Sadly caste discrimination still exists and we still have much work to do in the area. It is for all of us to work in fully eliminating discrimination in the country of any form

It is in our power to eliminate it," she added.

The Congress chief's visit to the Sivagiri mutt came close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the mutt on December 15 to pay homage to Narayana Guru who gave the message of one caste, one religion and one god to mankind.

Woman doctor made party in sexual assault case

KOCHI: A case has been registered against a woman doctor, who examined a minor raped by a catholic priest identified as Father Edwin Figarez, under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

A case has been registered against Dr Ajitha under the POCSO Act of 2012 by the Puthenvelikkara police. This is for the first time a case has been registered against a doctor who examined a sexual assault victim under the POCSO Act in Kerala.

The law says that if a child is sexually assaulted then it should be immediately informed to the police. The doctor refused to inform the concerned even after the minor’s statement was recorded. The report submitted has made it clear. A case has been registered against the doctor naming her as the fourth accused. The incident came to light in March 2015.

Research Centre in Guru’s name, says Chandy

SIVAGIRI: A research Centre will be started for those who want to study on the life and teachings of social reformer Sree Narayana Guru, said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at the inaugural meet of the 83rd Sivagiri Pilgrimage.

The government has decided to establish a fellowship in the name of Sree Narayana Guru. The director of Sree Narayana Study Centre has been entrusted for it. The government is honoured to have included the life of Guru in the curriculum of students from class one to twelve. Steps are being taken to extend it in the coming years, he said.

Guru’s visions help the society. Guru made an attempt to create proper awareness in the society. He tried to unite people and not to divide them. His visions that people should not split in the name of caste and religion are still relevant. Those trying to split in the name of caste should be faced with the ethics of guru, he said.

Foreign currency worth 25 lakh seized in Thalassery

THALASSERY: Foreign currency worth Rs 25 lakh was seized in Thalassery. Ahamed Ilyas (29) of Kasargod was taken into custody at the Thalassery railway station in connection with the incident. He was taken into custody by sub inspector Anil Kumar on secret information while boarding a train to Kasargod from Thalassery.

Dollars, dirhams and euros were seized from him. It is not known from where he got it and for whom it was smuggled. The police are investigating where he has any connection with terrorist organizations.

For UDF, it’s like operation was success but patient died: VS

KOLKATA: Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan has said that the Supreme Court’s verdict endorsing the government’s liquor policy has given the UDF a feeling that “the operation was a success but the patient died”. “It has been proved again that the government’s declaration that the liquor ban will be implemented in a phased manner is a hoax,” he said.

Achuthanandan said that the government had implemented liquor policy without making necessary studies. It didn’t think about the inconvenience the policy brought to the bar workers. “The government has ruined the life of thousands of bar workers by closing down bars. It still now has no plans for their rehabilitation. The policy has helped only in increasing the length of queues in front of Beverages outlets. All this has only underscored the LDF policy that it is abstinence rather ban that would be practical in the case of alcohol consumption,” VS said.  

School athletic meet from Jan 29 to Feb 2

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The cabinet which met on Tuesday decided to hold National school athletic meet in Kozhikode from January 29 to February 2. The decision has put a lid on uncertainty over venues for the event. As several other states had rejected permission to conduct the event, Kerala had to come forward to host the event. The State didn’t want the students to lose the opportunity to showcase their talent, as well.   

When the government was first reluctant to host the event, athletic stars P T Usha and Sports Council President Anju Boby George intervened, resulting in the government to change its stand.    The first cabinet decision was not to host the event in the wake of youth festival, SSLC exam, and Assembly election.

The controversy generated by Maharashtra government’s decision to hold separate events for girls and boys, however, led the government to quickly revisit its earlier decision. Kerala took the above final decision as Goa too was not willing to provide venue. 

Sivagiri pilgrimage begins with religious fervor

SIVAGIRI: The 83rd Sivagiril pilgrimage is underway at Sivagiri with religious fervor. The pilgrimage started at 7.30 am with the hoisting of the flag by Swamy Prakashananda, president of Sree Narayana Dharma Sangam, after various poojas held at the mutt.The flag was hoisted in the presence of Dharma Sangham trust general secretary Swamy Rithambarananda, Dharma Sangham trust treasures Swamt Paramananda, pilgrimage committee secretary Swamy Guru Prasad, Swamy Vishalananda, Swamy Amayananda, Swamy Shankarananda, Swamy Saradananda and other Sivagiri devotees.

The Sivagiri pilgrimage was inaugurated by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. Swamy Prakashananda presided over the function. Dharma Sangham trust former treasurer Swamy Amritananda lighted the lamp, Trust general secretary Swamy Rithambarananda welcomed the gathering and Swamy Vishalananda will deliver the vote of thanks.

Civic polls: Glitch in voting machine not sabotage, says Inquiry Commission

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The investigation team that investigated the reason for glitches found in voting machines during civic polls has found out that the reason for the faults was not sabotage.

The three-member commission said the reason for the fault was purely technical. “As there was some excess dampness on circuit boards, they became non-functional,” the Commission said in its report.

In Malappuram alone, 250 voting machines became faulty while in Thrissur, the number was above 30. Though replacements were made available, they also didn’t function. Following this, voting in 114 booths was postponed to the next day.

The commission has also refuted the allegation that attempts were made to sabotage the voting process by pouring gum into machines, sellotaping buttons and screwing paper bits into the machines.

Sonia Gandhi reaches state

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi reached Thiruvananthapuram to attend several programmes including the inaugural function of this year’s Sivagiri Pilgrimage.

Sonia, who reached Thiruvananthapuram at 9.50 am left for Varkala in a helicopter. She will inaugurate the Sivagiri pilgrimage at 10.30 am and then leave for Kottayam soon after the event.

Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala accompanied her from New Delhi.

Yuhanon Mor Philexinos dies

KALPETTA: Dr Mor Philexinos Yuhanon, a retired Syrian Orthodox bishop, died here Wednesday. He was 74. He died at Kalpetta in Wayanad due to old age ailments. He will be laid to rest at Pambady in Kottayam.

Yuhanon born as John Jacob was born to Elappanal Family of Pampady on  December 5, 1941. In 1964, at the age of 23, he was ordained deacon by Mor Philaxinos Poulose (then Catholicose Mor Baselios Paulose II) and Kassisho in 1969 by Mor Baselios Augen I.

When he was studying in the USA, he served as the vicar in many Jacobite churches in Staten Island, Manhattan, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Augusta. He also performed volunteer work for the Holy Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church.

After January 17 in 1985, when the Metropolitan of Malabar Diocese, Samuel Mor Philaxinos, died, the Holy Episcopal Synod selected Jacob as the new metropolitan to the diocese. On 12 September 1985 Mor Baselios Paulose II consecrated Jacob as the new metropolitan of Malabar, with the name Mor Philaxinos, at St Peter's & St Paul's Cathedral Church in Meenangadi (one of the biggest churches in Malankara).

The history of the Malabar Diocese is closely related to Yuhanon Mor Philexinos. When Yuhanon Mor Philexinos took charge of Malabar, the Diocese area was in a high state of deterioration. He therefore coordinated the works in the diocese and constructed many new churches throughout the diocese. A lot of them are built in Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu, Kozhikode and Malappuram.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Govt ready to do anything for bar workers’ rehabilitation: Chandy

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Tuesday that the government was ready to do anything for the rehabilitation of bar workers in the wake of the Supreme Court favouring the State’s liquor policy.

He added that the court order was a recognition for the government’s liquor policy.“The liquor policy didn’t happen in a day. Even from the period of former chief ministers K Karunakaran and A K Antony, this was the declared policy of the government. The present government only did the follow-up. The government’s aim is to reduce the availability of liquor in a phased manner and efface it eventually. The policy was formulated not to take revenge on anyone and the government’s grudge is against bad things in society,” Chandy explained. 
                                                                                                                      
The chief minister said the Opposition’s allegation was that the policy was made all on a sudden. But, the court order had proved that wrong. “The Opposition should clarify its stand on liquor policy as the people have the right to know about it. The court order is not against anyone, especially bar owners, who should not misunderstand the verdict,” said Chandy, adding that the government’s decision was a bold one.

State to seek more fund under AMRUT scheme: Chandy


KOZHIKODE: The state will include more cities in the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) project, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said. Inaugurating AMRUT programme for nine cities in the state, he said six corporations and Guruvayur, Alappuzha and Palakkkad municipalities were already included under the ambitious project. Though the state had formed 28 more municipalities, some of were not eligible to be included the scheme due to ongoing litigation, he said.

However, the state would make efforts to include more cities in the scheme, he said. The Centre had already allocated Rs 487.48 crore for the scheme, he said adding out of this, Rs 57.6 crore was to be utilized by March 2016 for water supply, sewerage, sceptic arrangements, drainage and urban transport development projects.

Panchayat and Social Justice Minister M K Muneer, senior Congress leader M K Raghavan, MP, Kozhikode Mayor V K C Mammad Koya, Kannur Mayor E P Latha, among others, attended the function presided over by Urban Development Minister Manjalamkuzhi Ali.

Kudumbasree Mission gets new Executive Director


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: IAS officer A Shajahan has assumed office as Executive Director (ED), Kudumbasree Mission. He will continue as Secretary, Social Justice. Abdul Azeez P I has assumed charge as Public Relations Officer, Kudumbasree Mission.

Will stop cinema production from January, say producers

KOCHI: Film producers have made it clear that they would stop production work from January 1. This decision follows the demand made by Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) that the technical staff’s wage be increased by 33.5 per cent.  

The producers’ organisation, however, said that FEFKA’s demand was unilateral. “FEFKA is demanding an increase of 70 per cent of their present salary. But, under the current circumstances, this is not possible. If, very high wages are demanded, we shall have to stop the shooting as we would have no other way,” said the producers.  

The producers also demanded that the FEFKA pay back additional amount they had taken from the producers of Christmas release films. 

Meanwhile, if the wage hike is not implemented, the technical staff may also announce their withdrawal from shooting works. 

Dismissed IAF official from Kerala arrested for spying

NEW DELHI: A dismissed Keralite Air Force official, who allegedly shared secret documents with intelligence operatives backed by Pakistan's ISI, has been arrested from Punjab by the Crime Branch of Delhi Police.

The accused, identified as Ranjith, who was a Leading Aircraft man with the Indian Air Force posted at Bhatinda, was dismissed recently after the force came across the allegations against him backed by actionable evidence put forth by security agencies, said a senior police official.

Ranjith, a native of Kerala, was arrested yesterday and brought to Delhi -- where he is being produced before a court -- on transit remand, the senior official said.

Ranjith allegedly shared secret information with operatives of an ISI-backed espionage ring through e-mails and inter-based text messaging services, said an official privy to the investigation.

He added that Ranjith was roped in into the spy ring by an unidentified woman whom he had met over a social networking site.

Ranjith's arrest is close on the hills of the cracking of an ISI-backed espionage racket by the Crime Branch in connection with which five persons -- including a serving and a former army personnel and a serving BSF personnel -- were arrested.

However, the police haven't yet been able to ascertain any specific link between Ranjith and the other racket, which were even found to have sources at the office of the Pakistan High Commission here, the official added.

Parallel College teacher missing

CHIRAYINKEEZH: A parallel college teacher, who fell into the river from the train, is missing. He has been identified as Unnikrishnan (40) of Chirayinkeezh. The incident happened last night in between Kottayam and Ernakulam near Piravom Road Station.  The incident happened while he was proceeding to Ernakulam in Malabar Express to attend an interview. He is suspected to have fallen into the river accidentally. Other passengers informed the railway police after the train reached Moovattupuzha.

Unnikrishnan was a passenger of the reservation coach. The other passengers pulled the chain after seeing him falling. The police from Thalayolapparambu and Velloor stations and fire force from Kaduthuruthy have started search operations. Expert divers too have intensified search.

Unnikrishnan, who was a teacher in Mali, reached the state after B.Ed was made compulsory there. He was working as an English teacher in Maharajas College in Chirayinkeezh.  

He had planned to stay in his friend’s house in Kochi and then attend the interview this morning. When the train reached Kayamkulam, he called his friend and informed him about his visit. As he did not turn up, his friend contacted his relatives.

His relatives and friends from Chirayinkeezh left for Piravom last night itself. He is the son of late Krishnan Chettiar and Vijayamma. Nisha (Sandhya) is his wife and has two children.

SC verdict recognition for govt: K M Mani

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Former Finance Minister K M Mani has said that SC verdict upholding the government’s liquor policy is a recognition for the government. “Kerala government’s liquor policy has got the Supreme Court’s recognition,” he told media persons.   

Minister Kunhalikutty also said that the apex court verdict was a recognition for the government’s liquor policy. “The government’s liquor policy had Muslim League’s support. And, bar owners’ warning is not taken seriously,” he added.  

SC verdict historic, says V M Sudheeran

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Supreme Court verdict approving state government’s decision to close the bars of the state is historic, said KPCC chief V M Sudheeran. Everyone welcomes this decision which is exemplary, he told reporters here.

The government is following the decision of the time of K Karunakaran reducing the availability of liquor. It has been proved that government’s decision is hundred per cent right. The government’s responsibility is to reduce liquor consumption. KPCC congratulates the chief minister, government and the UDF for taking the decision to close the bars.  

Sudheeran said they are least bothered on the threat of bar owners. One will be disappointed when the verdict is not in favour of them. It is quite natural. The government will not go back from their decision, he said.

Minister Babu welcomes SC verdict

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Excise Minister K Babu Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court verdict approving Kerala Government’s liquor policy. I am happy on the verdict. Talking to reporters here, he said the verdict proves that the court has understood government’s stand.

The verdict benefits the society.  The verdict will help to reduce liquor consumption. The government will strengthen awareness campaign against consumption of liquor, the minister said.  

Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala too has welcomed the verdict.

Bar owners to consider filing review plea

NEW DELHI: Bar hotel association president Rajkumar Unni said they will consider filing a review plea against the Supreme Court verdict approving government’s liquor policy. He requested the state to re-think their decision.

Senior advocates are on leave due to Christmas holidays and legal steps will be taken after holding talks with them. Government’s policy is for a year and so they have the right to change it. In the past also there has been a history of banning liquor and later withdrawing it. We all hope that changes would be brought in the liquor policy.

Meantime, Elegance bar owner Binoy said there are chances to prove the allegations levelled by bar association working president Biju Ramesh.

Monday, December 28, 2015

No Bar, SC approves Kerala Govt’s liquor policy

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday has approved Kerala Government’s liquor policy.

Pronouncing the verdict, a two-member bench said all pleas challenging the government’s liquor policy restricting the sale and consumption of liquor at the bars in five star hotels are being dismissed.

The closed bars will not open, the court said.

The batch of petitions by the Kerala Bar Hotel Association and others had contended that the new policy that permitted only the five star hotels to sell and serve liquor bars in their hotels was discriminatory to other hotels.

The liquor policy restricting the sale and consumption of liquor at the bar benefitted 24 five-star hotels in the state and it was upheld by the Kerala High Court on March 31.

Plenum not to discuss poll alliances: Yechuri

KOLKATA: The plenum being held in Kolkata now will not discuss assembly poll alliances of states including Kerala and West Bengal, said CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechuri.  The plenum will not discuss the tricks to be taken during the polls, he said at the press meet.

Talks to strengthen the organizational system of the party is being held now.  Talks on poll alliances will be held after the plenum. The decisions taken at the party congress on alliances will be executed, explained Yechuri.

It is a great achievement to reduce factionalism in the party in Kerala. Gradually, factionalism will be completely eradicated. In reply to a question, he said it was the Bengal leadership who gave a seat to V S Achuthanandan who is not a politburo member at the inaugural function of the plenum.

Only the Left Front is able to accomplish an alternative secular, he said.

I’ve business links with CM’s son, says Biju Radhakrishnan

KOZHIKODE: I have business links with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s son Chandy Oommen, said Biju Radhakrishnan, accused in the solar fraud case. The documents in connection with the business links with him will be produced before the solar commission. He said this while he was brought to be produced in the court in connection with a case.

The chief minister has no moral right to call me a crook and a killer. If he has the guts, he should resign his post and face the probe and then will know who the real crook is. The chief minister will have to appear before the commission on the basis of the proofs produced by me. Those criticizing our trip to Coimbatore to retrieve the disc are those who foiled it, he said.

Endosulfan: VS to lead hunger strike

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a statement released, opposition leader V S Achuthanandan Monday said that he will lead the indefinite hunger strike starting in front of the official residence of the chief minister on January 26 by Samyuktha Samara Samithi after government failed to execute the assurances given to endosulfan victims.

The government failed to implement the decision taken at the meet convened by the chief minister following a strike staged by women on January 26 in 2015.

After making announcements and taking decisions, the government fail to implement it. A decision taken at the meet convened by Agriculture Minister K P Mohanan has not implemented so far. VS requested the people to provide financial help to make the strike a success.

Two Ayyappa devotees drown


PATHANAMTHITTA: Two Ayyappa devotees Monday drowned after trapped in strong currents while having bath in the Achenkovil River.

The two has been identified as Suresh (27) and Santaram (34) of Kollam.

They were having bath at the Arattu Kadavu on the side of Omalloor.

Sudheeran refutes Vellappally’s charge


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: KPCC president V M Sudheeran has said that he is not hounding SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan as alleged by him. “Witch-hunt is not my style. I have never done that. I have nothing personal against him, but I do have differences about his positions,” Sudheeran said while inaugurating the 92nd institution day of the Congress Seva Dal here on Sunday.

Sudheeran insisted that Natesan’s controversial speech at Aluva in the course of his ‘Samathva Munnetta Yatra’ was made with the devious intention to foment religious hostilities and hatred and this would be evident to anyone who examines the video recording of his speech. He had escaped the arms of the law in the past using the immunity derived from his position in the SNDP Yogam. The law is applicable to all and Natesan should also submit himself to the processes of law, he said.

Three of Areekode family killed in Saudi road crash

MALAPPURAM: Three members of a family from Areekode in the district were killed in a road crash near Madina in Saudi Arabia. The victims were identified as Mumtaz, 45, son Shadil, 29, and his three-year-old daughter Irin. Mumtaz is the wife of business man N V Karim. Shadil’s wife Rishna was injured. The accident occurred when the car in which the family was travelling overturned at Rabigh on the highway from Madina to Makkah. It was two weeks ago that Kareem and family arrived at Makkah, where Shadil and family were living. Shadil was a software engineer engaged in Haram expansion works being carried out by Binladin group of companies. The car overturned when Shadil lost control of the car as he tried to avert a collision. The bodies of the dead have been kept at Khulais General Hospital, Jeddah.

Mandala Pooja held at Lord Ayyappa temple


SABARIMALA: Mandala Pooja, the conclusion of 41-days annual Mandala festival, was held at Lord Ayyappa temple. The idol of Lord Ayyappa was adorned with the gold attire, Thanka Anki, during the Pooja. Mandala Pooja was held between 1102 hrs and 1140 hrs. The temple will be closed after singing Harivarasanam. The temple will be reopened for Makaravilakku festival on December 30.

Two Keralites killed in bus-lorry collision in Saudi


DAMAM: Two Keralites were killed when their vehicle carrying Umra devotees collided with a trailor at Damam in Saudi Arabia.

The two has been identified as Kunhammed and Saqaffi, natives of Malappuram. The vehicle carrying women and children hit behind a trailor last night. The condition of eight persons is stated to be serious.

Woman killed as tree falls on her

PALODE: A woman was killed after a tree uprooted during a festival at the Shastha Temple. Seven including three children sustained injuries. The incident happened at the Kochupalakkal Shasthamnada temple in Peringamala. The woman dead has been identified as Podichi (50) of Shasthamnada. Those injured are Kunji (65), Suma (22), Vijayan (42), Padma (16), Bindu (23), Vipin (10), Vineesh (6). The incident happened last night.

The mandala chirappulsavam was being held in the temple for the last 41 days. A big tree uprooted when programmes were to be held in the temple on the last day of the festival. A branch of the tree fell on top of some women who were sitting on the ground to watch the programmes. Podichi sustained serious injuries and died and other women who sustained injuries are undergoing treatment. The body of Podichi is kept at the mortuary of Kadakkal Govt Hospital. Podichi, a widow, leaves behind her children Leela, Bindu and late Shidhi.

CPM can’t progress unless they change their hatred towards Congress: Sudheeran

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A day after the CPM hinting an alliance with the congress, KPCC chief V M Sudheeran said the CPM cannot progress in politics unless they change their hatred towards the congress. Inaugurating the programme organized by the KPCC on the 131st Foundation Dayof the Indian National Congress, Sudheeran said he doesn’t think the CPM will correct its mistake by convening the national plenum.   

The CPM plenum convened the other day had taken a stand not to reject the chances of an alliance with the congress.

None of the parties can form a secular alliance by excluding the congress. The congress had always lifted atop secularism.  He asked to be vigilant against the BJP Government’s communal stance. The idea of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar is to divide people, but it will not be fulfilled in Kerala, he said.

VS in PB or secretariat

KOLKATA: Unofficial talks were held between senior leaders in between the plenum in giving an apt section to V S Achuthanandan, a special invitee of the central committee excluded from the state faction.

In the talks held at the politburo, it was opined either to include VS or make him an invitee. VS is now in a reconciliatory condition with the party.

He led the party in the local body polls. VS himself had rejected an interview published in a magazine criticizing the leadership.  All these are an indication of change. The central leadership has directed to include VS in the jatha to be led by Pinarayi Vijayan and in the ensuing assembly polls.

The CPM central committee meet to be convened after the plenum will take a decision on VS. He is likely to be inducted in the state panel or secretariat. An agreement has been taken to make him partake in the inaugural and concluding meets of the Nava Kerala March led by Pinarayi.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Jaitley running away from probe, misinterpreting report: AAP

NEW DELHI: Continuing its attack on Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the AAP Sunday accused him of "running away" from probe and challenged him to face an inquiry by an independent agency into charges of corruption in Delhi's cricket body, DDCA.

The party also said Jaitley and BJP are "misinterpreting" the findings of the three-member committee, constituted by the Delhi government to look into the charges of corruption in Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA), and trying to project that the report gives Jaitley a clean chit.

The AAP also asked why there was no demand for a probe into the matter from the government or the BJP when it claimed that Jaitely was innocent.

"Interesting to see how some media houses are desperately trying to prove Jaitley ji innocent. Why is Jaitley ji afraid of facing enquiry? That's the difference between BJP and AAP. AAP takes strong and swift action on credible evidence. BJP defends corruption and runs away from investigation," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.

Earlier in the day, the BJP demanded a "public apology" from Kejriwal for levelling allegations against Jaitley regarding Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA), saying a report of the city government has found no evidence against the Finance Minister.

The AAP also fielded Ashutosh, Deepak Bajpai -- one of the leaders sued by Jaitley for defamation -- to counter the BJP's claims.

"If BJP is so confident that he is clean then why is it running away from investigation? They should take it to a logical conclusion. Why is Jaitley running away from enquiry and investigation? Even the PM has said you should follow Advani and resign till he comes out clean. He should come forward and present an example before the nation. Earlier they rubbished the committee report, but now they are considering it as a sacred book.

"The report also states that there should be a Commission of Inquiry into the matter. A whistleblower had alerted the Delhi government well in advance that the formation of the Commission will be scuttled through the Lt Governor," Ashutosh claimed.

Delhi govt inquiry report on DDCA has no mention of Jaitley

NEW DELHI: A Delhi government inquiry report on the affairs of the capital's cricket body DDCA does not even mention the name of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who has been under opposition attack over the alleged irregularities during his tenure as its chief.

The 237-page report by a three-member committee headed by Principal Secretary in Vigilance Department Chetan Sanghi has said that considering the "large number of allegations against DDCA", the cricket body should be immediately suspended by the BCCI.

Without any mention of Jaitley anywhere in the report, the committee made host of observations about alleged irregularities by DDCA which include construction of the corporate boxes without prior approval of the authorities and complaints of forgery in age-verification certificates.

The panel slammed BCCI for its "inaction" in the affairs of DDCA and had recommended that Delhi government should approach the Supreme Court with a request to have Justice Lodha Committee advice regarding streamlining of the functioning of the cricket administrator.

The Supreme Court-appointed Justice R M Lodha committee, which probed IPL betting scandal, is currently working on its recommendations to reform the way the BCCI functions.

Jaitley, who headed the DDCA between 1999 and 2013, has been under opposition attack even though he has maintained his innocence.

A probe by Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) during UPA tenure also had found nothing against Jaitley.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had alleged that CBI had raided his office to check the files on DDCA.

Unni Mukundan teams up debutant director

Youth actor Unni Mukundan is teaming up with a director, who is a new comer, for a new film. It is Sajan Mathew who is going to direct the film ‘Oru Murai Vandu Parthaya’. The film’s heroine will also be a newbie.  

Unni Mukundan will play an electrician in the film, which will be telling a love story. Kalpana, Sudheer Karamana and Sudho Koppa are the main stars.

Unni Mukundan’s next film to hit the theatres will be Style, directed by Binu S after ‘Ithihasa’. This is a comedy thriller. Unni will appear as Tom, a car mechanic. Youth actor Tovino Thomas will appear as antagonist. Priyanka Gadwal is the heroine.   

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Charlie ... Dulquer Salmaan at his best !

Charlie from the word go is a very special film... It's the unique narrative, characterization and making that makes Charlie special. Director Martin Prakkat has come out with a treat for the movie buffs who are constantly looking forward to something very exciting and novel. The best thing about the film is that there is a sense of curiosity that the film creates which is maintained throughout the movie keeping us completely glued on to the screens. I don't intend to draw a comparison when I say that Charlie holds similarity with KG George's masterpiece Yavanika in one respect.

Just like in Yavanika where the central character Ayyappan is revealed to the audience through other characters in the film, we also get a clear picture of Charlie from the mouths of various characters in the movie. But the film is not just about Charlie, it’s also about Tessa (Parvathy), it’s about her unending search for this mysterious man Charlie.. She is sort of instantly attracted towards him without even meeting him and with bated breath is on the quest to meet him. Just like Tessa we the audience too wait with bated breath for Charlie. Each and every character in Charlie is notable and extremely interesting. Of course Charlie being the most interesting of all.  Unni R deserves huge applause for the brilliant screenplay and dialogues. Another major high point of the film is the cinematography by Jomon T John... his magical frames and lighting works wonders.

SubmitComing to the performances Dulquer Salmaan as Charlie who leads a gypsy life delivers his best performance till date. It’s a delight to watch him in every scene. He lights up every sequence with his beautiful mannerisms and looks which has already created a trend. Parvathy too is equally good and at times the best performer in the film. With each film she is proving that she is one of the best in the business. Nedumudi Venu and Soubin Shahir too deserves special mention.

Gopi Sunder's soundtrack is quite unique and is totally befitting the film considering the overall mood. Director Martin Prakkat in his third outing has come out with his best work. It's really difficult to ascertain the real hero of Charlie as it's a good example of a fantastic team effort. As already mentioned Charlie is quite a special film that will only multiply your love for the medium called Cinema. Go for it !!!

Action Plan on 'Start-up India' to be unveiled on Jan 16: PM

NEW DELHI: Seeking to boost entrepreneurship at the grassroots level, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday said the Action Plan of the 'Start-up India, Stand-up India' will be unveiled on January 16 and urged the states to help spread this campaign across the country's nook and corner.

Modi, who had made the announcement about the campaign in his last Independence Day address, said the programme will be designed to suit Indian conditions and focus would be on ensuring benefits for the youth from the lowest strata of the society.

"My dear young friends, in my August 15 address from the Red Fort, I had made preliminary mention about 'Start-up India, Stand-up India'. After that, this spread to all the departments of the government.

"Can India be a 'Start-up Capital'? Can the youth in the states have the opportunities in the form of start-ups, with innovations, whether it be manufacturing, service sector or agriculture? In everything, there should be freshness, new ways, new thinking. The world cannot move ahead without innovation," he said in his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' radio programme, the last one for this year.

He said the 'Start-up India, Stand-up India' campaign has brought new opportunities for the youth.

"On January 16, the government of India will unveil the full Action Plan of Start-up India, Stand-up India... A structure will be presented before you. This programme will be connected to the country's IITs, IIMs, central universities and NITs. Wherever there are youth, they will be linked through 'live connectivity," the Prime Minister said.

The programme is aimed at promoting bank financing for start-up ventures and offer incentives to boost entrepreneurship and job creation.

Dy Speaker for increasing Assembly days

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Deputy Speaker Palode Ravi has suggested that number Assembly days be increased.  He was speaking at the face-to-face programme organised by Thiruvananthapuram press club. “Kerala should hold at least 100 days’ Assembly sessions in a year as recommended by  National Speakers’ Conference and become the role model,” he said.

“Since the Assembly days are less, in the place of 10 submissions, about 50 submissions are made in a day. Because of this, submissions are not getting due importance. Many bills are guillotined as stalling Assembly sessions has become the order of the day. A wide political consensus is necessary if assembly transactions are to be carried forward in a proper way” he said.

India most tolerant country in the world, says violinist L Subramaniam

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Amidst the raging debate on growing 'intolerance' in the country, violin virtuoso and composer Dr L Subramaniam on Saturday took a varying point of view, saying India is one of the most tolerant countries in the world.

India had tolerated several attacks and invasions in the past and that itself had been a proof of the great tolerance of the country, the maestro told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.

"India is one of the most tolerant countries in the world. Here, anybody can speak against anyone and it can be broadcast and published in newspapers. That itself shows the tolerance of the country," he said.

The Padma Bhushan awardee said he had performed in certain countries where "you say one word, and people have disappeared."

Subramaniam is in the city along with his singer-wife Kavitha Krishnamurthi to perform at the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival.

Stating that it was "not appropriate to call a country intolerant taking into consideration one or two isolated instances", he said, "We are highly cultured and we should focus on making our country a powerful one."

On the recent cancellation of Pakistan singer Ghulam Ali's concerts in India, he said Ali was one of his friends and he had performed several times in the country before.

The 68-year-old composer-conductor also hailed Kerala's contributions in the field of art and culture in different periods.
"Kerala is a place which had produced legendary composer like Swathi Thirunal and painter Raja Ravi Varma. The state has such a great pool of talents here. I hope the state will become 100 per cent literate in terms of arts and culture also," he said, expressing happiness to open a music academy in Kerala if he gets enough support.

Echoing the same sentiments of her husband, Kavitha said she was excited to come back to Kerala and called the state as the most beautiful and tolerant states in the country.

Hungarian violinist Roby Lakatos and cimbalom expert Jeno Listzes were also present during the conference.
The Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival was established in 1992 by Dr Subramaniam in memory of his late father and guru, Professor V Lakshminarayana.

Since its inception, the LGMF has presented some of the greatest artistes from around the world including Yehudi Menuhin, M S Subbulakshmi, Bismillah Khan, Al Jarreau, Stanley Clarke, George Duke and Jean-Luc Ponty.

SC to pronounce verdict in bar case on Dec 29

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will pronounce the verdict on bar owners pleas against government’s policy that bar license need be issued only to five-star hotels of the state, on December 29. Justice Vikramjith Sen said this after hearing the arguments on the pleas. The court will reopen only in January after Christmas holidays. 

However, the verdict will be pronounced by holding a special sitting during vacation time as the judge is retiring on Dec 30.The court has completed writing the verdict in the case.The bar owners approached the Supreme Court after the high court, single and division benches upheld the liquor policy. The state government during trial had informed that they would cancel if proved that the liquor policy is anti-constitutional and discriminatory. 

The bench led by Justices Vikramjith Sen and Sivakeerthi Singh postponed pronouncing the verdict after hearing the argument for 38  hours in nine days from October 13 to 27.

When attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, Harish Salve, Aryama Sundaram, N Venkitaraman, Rajeev Dhawan, Harin P Raval, L Nageswara Rao, C U Singh, A M Chaddhal appeared for the bar owners, Kapil Sibal, V Giri and standing counsel M R Ramesh Babu appeared for the state. Kaleeswaram Raj argued favouring liquor policy for T N Prathapan MLA.

CPM's draft organisational report slams factionalism

KOLKATA: The five-day CPM plenum that aims at organisational empowerment of the CPM will begin in Kolkata on Sunday.  A mammoth rally that will be held at Kolkata Brigade Parade ground tomorrow at 1pm will mark the beginning of the plenum. CPM is viewing the rally as demonstration of its power to regain the lost foothold in Kolkata.

The plenum will begin at Party District Committee auditorium at 4 in the evening after a general meeting that will ensue the rally. CPM politburo held a meeting in the morning to ratify the political resolution to be presented at the plenum. In the afternoon, a central committee meeting was also held in this regard.

In the draft organisational report to be presented at the plenum, there were complaints that the factionalism existing in the Kerala unit of the party had adversely affected the benefits of party membership. “The factionalism also badly affected cadres’ spirit, strict discipline and democratic centralisation. Due to factionalism, federalism grew. Factionalism grew as a continuation of neo-liberalisation. Because of this, the party leadership have had to tolerate egotistic activities of certain leaders. Such practices that will weaken the rebellious party that functions on the basis of centralised democracy can’t be tolerated,” the report said.
The report which has instructed ‘battle’ against the tendency for factionalism, however, evaluated that Kerala was able to fight factionalism to some extent.     

Youths ‘killed’ for questioning 'eve teasers'

THRISSUR: Police have concluded that the incident in which two youths were found dead recently at Parapookkara with severe head injuries is a case of murder. Police said it was a murder of vengeance as the youths had questioned some miscreants for disturbing their friend’s wife. There existed rivalry between the youth and the miscreants for some time after the incident.  

Thrissur Varakkara native Melwin and Madikkara native Viswajith were found dead in mysterious circumstances on Friday evening. Their bodies were found at a deserted place near Parappookkara with their head fatally bludgeoned. Their friends Mithun and Sreejith were also injured.

Police said a 12-member mob had attacked the friends with lethal weapons. Melwin and Viswajith, who had sustained severe injuries, were dumped in the deserted place, where they lied for hours with blood oozing out.

Four bitten by stray dogs in Kulathur


KAZHAKOOTTAM: Four persons including an 11-year-old were bitten by a stray dog at Stationkadavu near Kulathur. Adithi, daughter of Vinod Kumar of Kulathur, a migrant labourer and two motorists’ sustained injuries in the dog bite. The dog ran after Adithi while she was with her father in the bike, and bit her. The other two motorists were also bitten in the same way. The dog bit the migrant labourer while standing in the road side. The incident happened at 7 pm last evening. Injured Adithi has been admitted at the General Hospital. This is the third incident reported from Kulathur.

People has to evaluate govt, says Chandy

KOTTAYAM: It is the people, who has to evaluate the activities of the state, said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. It is not right from anyone’s side to assess on their own, he said.

Chandy refused to respond on the letter claimed to have sent by Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala to the high command. Chennithala himself has stated that he had not sent such a letter. The government cannot order a probe as it has been carried as breaking news by television channels. If the letter is obtained, then action will be taken, he said.

Sonia to hold talks with leaders of allied parties

NEW DELHI: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi reaching the state by the end of this month will hold separate talks with the leaders of allied parties. She will be meting them on December 30.

Sonia will try to know from the leaders about the letter claimed to have written by Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala against Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Though Chenithala had explained that he has not sent one, the high command believe that the problems in the congress have been exposed in the form of the letter.

Sonia will know from the leaders the winning chances of the UDF and about their activities in the coming assembly polls.

VS, part of party, says Yechuri

KOLKATA: Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan and the party should not be seen separately, said CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechuri. Talking to reporters after the politburo meet ahead of the CPM plenum starting tomorrow, he said VS is also part of the party.

If the CPM has a role in the victory seen in the local body polls held recently in Kerala, then VS is also a part of it.  VS is a senior leader respected by the party. VS and the party should not be seen separately, he said.

When asked who will lead the assembly polls in Kerala, he said one need not be young, age and experience are the main factors. There are no restrictions in the case of age.  The state faction will hold talks on front’s expansion.

Yechuri said that has not come across the statement of Pinarayi Vijayan that Muslim League is a secular party.

Saswathikananda was murdered, says Swamy Prakashananda

KOZHIKODE: The death of Swamy Saswathikananda, former chief of Sivagiri Mutt was unnatural, said Sivagiri Dharma Sangham president Swamy Prakashananda.

The body is suspected to have been dumped in the river after killing him by hitting him on his head, he told reporters here.

The injury seen on his forehead is suspicious.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Strong 6.2 magnitude quake rocks northeast Afghanistan

KABUL: A 6.2 magnitude earthquake rocked northeast Afghanistan late last night close to the country's borders with Pakistan and Tajikistan, leaving at least 17 people injured, according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake, which measured 203.5 kilometres (126 miles) deep, struck about 280 kilometres northeast of the Afghan capital Kabul at 11:44 pm (local time), the USGS said on its website.

Kabul residents rushed out of their homes and buildings on what was a bitterly cold night amid fears of aftershocks, an AFP journalist said, while the quake also caused buildings to sway in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

An AFP reporter said the earthquake appeared to continue for at least 30 seconds, while Twitter users as far away as New Delhi said they felt its impact.

Though there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in Afghanistan, at least 30 people were injured as a result of the quake in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar, according to a hospital spokesman.

In October, a 7.5-magnitude quake ripped across Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing nearly 400 people and flattening buildings in rugged terrain that impeded relief efforts.

For many in Pakistan, October's quake brought back traumatic memories of a 7.6-magnitude quake that struck in October 2005, killing more than 75,000 people and displacing some 3.5 million.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

In Nepal a quake in April and a strong aftershock in May killed more than 8,900 people.

Four bitten by stray dogs in Kulathur


KAZHAKOOTTAM: Four persons including an 11-year-old were bitten by a stray dog at Stationkadavu near Kulathur. Adithi, daughter of Vinod Kumar of Kulathur, a migrant labourer and two motorists’ sustained injuries in the dog bite. The dog ran after Adithi while she was with her father in the bike, and bit her. The other two motorists were also bitten in the same way. The dog bit the migrant labourer while standing in the road side. The incident happened at 7 pm last evening. Injured Adithi has been admitted at the General Hospital. This is the third incident reported from Kulathur.

Four drowned on Christmas day

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Four persons drowned in the sea in various places on the Christmas day. One person is missing. Out of the dead, three are fishermen. One person drowned while having bath with his friends. A youth, who came to celebrate Christmas in Vizhinjam is missing in the sea. A 40-year-old youth identified as Alexander of Pulluvila died after his boat overturned while fishing. Four identified as Yugene, Zavier, Joy and Joosa, natives of Valiyathura were rescued by the coast guard. The boat capsized in the strong waves at Puzhimanthura last evening. The body of Alexander is kept at the medical college hospital. He leaves behind his wife Leela and children Anish, Ajeesh, Abhilash and Alphonsya. The Kanjiramkulam police have registered a case.

A 24-year-old youth identified as Deepu, son of Sreekumar of Pallithura in Vizhinjam fell in the sea last evening. The incident happened when Deepu and his friend came to his relative’s house to celebrate Christmas. The coastal police, enforcement and the coast guard have intensified search operations. The Vizhinjam police have registered a case.

Praveen of Anchutehgnu aged 21 died after trapped in the currents at Papanasam last evening. Though he was brought to the shore, his life could not be saved. The body has been shifted to the taluk hospital in Varkala. Two fishermen identified as Aaskar (42) and Antony (43) drowned in the sea in Anchuthengu.

Keralites tortured in Saudi Arabia return home

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  Three Keralites, who were physically tortured by their employer in Saudi Arabia, returned to India early Saturday morning after being rescued from a brick factory in Abha.

A horrifying video of three Keralites being beaten brutally by their employer had evoked strong reactions in the state. In the video, the Saudi man could be seen beating the three with a wooden club.

The men, Abhishek, Vimal and Baiju, who are from Haripad in Kerala, had forwarded the video to their family members, with an appeal for help.

"I went there with lots of dream... now I don't know what I will do...need money to build a house, loans to be paid off," said 21-year-old Abhishek, a trained electrician who was cheated on the pretext of job and was forced to work in a brick factory.

It's the same story for 29-year-old Baiju, a plumber and 30-year-old Vimal.

In an emotional reunion at Thiruvananthapuram airport, Vimal's mother Ommanna K said: "Thank you for bringing back my son. I pray for a long life and health for him."

The case has been registered against the local job agent who allegedly promised the three men jobs in Yemen as electricians. But they were duped and taken to Abha in Saudi Arabia, where they were forced to work in a brick manufacturing company.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had assured that the issue would be taken up with the authorities and the men will be back home soon.

"We reported this to Saudi Police. We are in touch with Indian workers. They will be back in India within a week," she had tweeted.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had also assured their return within two days.