Saturday, April 30, 2016

Stay on govt order taking Vigilance out of RTI purview

KOCHI: State government’s controversial order taking Vigilance department out of RTI purview was stayed by the high court on Friday. The court clarified that the government order would not prima facie stand the test of law. The stay comes in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed.

The court said the people have the right to know facts regarding the Vigilance. The court noted that though the government had informed that they would withdraw the order, it didn’t happen.

Meanwhile, the government argued that the PIL was filed with political intentions as the election was nearing. This claim was rejected by the court.  

NDA releases Vision document, roots for liquor ban in phased manner

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: NDA’s Assembly poll vision document released today promises implementation of complete liquor ban all over the State in a phased manner and bringing in second land reformation. The Vision document was released by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The document says that the liquor consumption will be restricted, only 250ml litre liquor will be sold to a person, sale of liquor through beverages outlet will be restricted, land will be allotted to landless within two years, Adivasi youths who have passed SSLC exams will be given government jobs and interest-free agricultural loan will be distributed.

Rs 10000-crore package for coastal development, Kasargod-Thiruvananthapuram high-speed roadway, 1000 dairy villages, One lakh small-scale business ventures, Rs 10000 crore package for traditional business opportunities, scholarship in the name of Bharata Kesari Mannathu Padmanabhan for backward students irrespective of cast or religion, 24-hr uninterrupted drinking water supply, and 10,000 flat complexes to be built with government aides within two years in order to develop slum-free Kerala are other assurances in the Vision document.

First phase of NEET exam tomorrow, SC declines to hear urgent plea

NEW DELHI: The first phase of the single entrance test NEET for admissions to MBBS and BDS courses across the country will be held tomorrow as the Supreme Court today refused to accord an urgent hearing of a plea seeking modification of its earlier order. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur, which is conducting a special hearing on Saturday to deal with pollution in Delhi, did not allow the plea seeking urgent hearing for modification of the April 28 order passed by another bench with regard to the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET).

“Nothing will happen in the meantime. Matter had been heard by the bench and it is over for now. Please allow the examination to be conducted,” the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi said. The observation came when lawyers, representing some students, said that the order on NEET needed to be modified as students who had prepared for the state-level entrance exams will find it difficult to prepare for the NEET in such a short span of time.  

The court, for the time being refused to entertain the plea and asked the lawyers concerned to file an application which would be heard by the regular bench, hearing the case.

The Supreme Court had yesterday said that the entrance test for admission to MBBS and BDS courses for the academic year 2016-17 will be held as per the schedule through the two-phased common entrance test NEET on May 1 and July 24.

Centre had yesterday approached the apex court for modification of its April 28 order and had sought that state governments and private colleges be allowed to hold separate entrance examinations for MBBS and BDS courses for 2016-17 saying there was a lot of confusion arising out of it.

The apex court had in its order cleared the decks for the holding of NEET in two phases for the academic year 2016-17 in which around 6.5 lakh candidates are likely to appear.

It had approved the schedule put before it by the Centre, CBSE and the Medical Council of India (MCI) for treating All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) fixed for May 1 as NEET-1.

It had said those who had not applied for AIPMT will be given the opportunity to appear in NEET-II on July 24 and the combined result would be declared on August 17 so that the admission process can be completed by September 30.

The apex court had pronounced the order after rejecting opposition for holding NEET by states, including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Association of Karnataka Medical Colleges, besides minority institutions like CMC, Vellore.

The apex court order had implied that all government colleges, deemed universities and private medical colleges would be covered under NEET and those examinations which have already taken place or slated to be conducted separately stand scrapped.

It had also revived the government’s December 21, 2010 notification for holding a single common entrance test through NEET with a clarification that any challenge on the issue would directly come before it and no high court can interfere.

The court was of the view that since it recalled its April 11 order, there was no hindrance in holding the NEET.

On April 11, the SC had recalled its verdict scrapping a single common entrance test for admission to MBBS and BDS courses in all medical colleges, delivered by then Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir on the day of his retirement.

The apex court’s April 28 order came on a petition filed by NGO Sankalp Charitable Trust, which had said that the Centre, MCI and CBSE were dilly-dallying in implementing the court’s order on implementing the NEET.

Main opponent is BJP, says Antony

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Senior Congress leader A K Antony and AICC working committee member A K Antony has said the real opponent for the UDF in the coming Kerala Assembly election is BJP.

Taking part in the election programme organised by Kesari Memorial Trust, Antony said a Cabinet without the presence of the BJP should come into existence in Kerala.   

“If BJP opens is account in Kerala, the communal harmony existing in the State will get disturbed. Secularism should be cared like the ‘iris of one’s eye’. Danger is hidden in BJP’s election campaign. Arrival of the prime minister and union ministers together is an indication of this danger. The Congress has not, however, befriended Communal forces,” said Antony who also alleged that RSS was trying to trigger communal tensions.    

The former defence minister said “the CPM has been trying to get at least 10 additional votes. Corruption is different from allegation and CPM’s development policy lags by 25 years.” 

People Have Decided To Vote Against 'Corrupt' UDF Government: Sitaram Yechury

KOCHI:  Confident about the LDF victory in the May 16 Assembly polls in Kerala, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury today said people have decided to vote against the "corrupt" Congress-led UDF government in the state.

"We will form the government. LDF will form the next government," he told reporters outside the International Airport in Kochi on his arrival from New Delhi to attend LDF election rallies in the state.

The CPI(M) leader, who joined hands with Congress leaders in West Bengal to launch an electoral fight against ruling Trinamool Congress, cited corruption and lack of governance by the Congress-led government in Kerala to predict an LDF victory in the polls.

"We have seen (in the) last five years something which is unknown or unexpected in Kerala, that is corruption and lack of governance," said Mr Yechury, who is also leader of the CPI(M) in the Rajya Sabha.

He, however, refused to specify how many seats LDF is expected to win in the crucial election to the Kerala Assembly, having a total of 140 seats.

"You must tell me," the CPI(M) leader shot back when asked how many seats LDF thought it would win in the elections fought among three major political fronts, including LDF, Congress-led UDF and BJP-led NDA.

Friday, April 29, 2016

13 yr old severely beaten; Plaint against Madrasa teacher

VALANCHERRY: A 13-year-old boy who was allegedly beaten up by his Madrasa teacher has been admitted to hospital. It was Kanjippura Chottoor Vadakkethil Kunjeedu Haji’s son Muhammed Anas (13) who was beaten by Cherppulassery native Shaukkath Aslami, the main teacher of the Madrassa. He allegedly beat the boy when he came to the intuition on Wednesday morning.

Since Anas was not well he had not turned up for Madrasa classes for the previous two days. This is said to have annoyed the teacher. He was beaten with a cane and when he tried to block it with his hand, he fractured his finger bones. The fracture was later confirmed in X’ray reports. There were also abrasions on his lap and arms.  

It is now reported that the teacher was in the habit of physically abusing students for trivial reasons. For fear of repercussions, the students kept mum.

Valancherry police have filed a case against the teacher based on the complaint filed by the boy’s parent.
Child line District coordinator Anwar Karakkad reached Valancherry Nadakkacu hospital and recorded statements of the student and his father.

Shoukkathali Aslami is the headmaster of Chottur Muhammdudheen Madrasa and Anas is a seventh standard student here. He is also the seventh standard boy of Karippol government high school. The child’s father said that he would proceed with the case.

Rain within five days, predicts Met dept

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: India Met department has predicted that there would be rain in Kerala within five days, which would bring respite to people reeling under scorching summer. A depression formed over Maldives Island has brought in the prospects for rain, it has said. When it rains, there will be a 2 degree dip in the present temperature.   

The heat being experienced by Kerala was not experienced during any summer in the past two decades.

Man sets fire inside Village office, locks up officials

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An anonymous man, wearing helmet, today barged into Vellarada village office along Tamil Nadu border, locked up the officers after setting fire inside the office. Five officers including the Village officer were injured in the incident. The injured have been admitted to hospital and the condition of one person is reported to be serious. Office files, computer, furniture and other records were destroyed in the fire. The incident happened Thursday morning at around 11:30, sending shock waves all over the State.  

The village office is currently functioning from a temporary building between a Child care centre and Homoeopathy hospital, at Vellarada Anappara junction.

Village officer Mohanan, Special Village officer Krishna Kumar, Field assistants Venugopal and Prabhakaran Nair sustained burns. Part time sweeper Vijayamma, who developed suffocation after inhaling smoke, also took medical treatment. Venugopal, meanwhile, has been shifted to Thiruvananthapuram Medical College  from Neyyattinkara Taluk office, as his burns are severe.  
 According to the victims,  a man wearing helmet entered the office all on a sudden, put the bag he was carrying on the floor, shouting that “I shall show you a trick”. As the staff looked aghast, he took a bottle filled with some inflammable liquid, spattered it all over the floor and ignited it. Soon the fire spread to the furniture and cupboard. Some officials got burns as they tried to salvage files and documents stacked in shelves and cupboards.     

In the melee, the anonymous man’s pants and shoes also caught fire. Soon after this, he ran outside, locked up the door, shouting “I’’ll show you”. He then reportedly rode off his bike and vanished from the site. “Unable to escape, some regained their presence of mind and tried to douse flames with water. Some found shelter in the toilet.

Though some said there was a sound of explosion in the office, this has not been confirmed. People who were waiting outside to remit taxes and get done other official things ran away, seeing the fire and hence none of them got injured.

Coming to know about the incident, people from nearby areas started crowding around. Panchayat member Thankappan Nair and locals rushed to the spot, opened the door and rescued the victims. Officials who sustained burns were first taken to Vellarada PH centre and then to Neyyattinkara Taluk hospital.   

Police from Vellarada and Fireforce personnel from Neyyattinkara were later arrived at the spot after which the fire was brought under control. A police team led by Rural SP and forensic expert have started investigation and collecting evidence.  Police are trying to find out whether the attack was a manifestation of some person’s frustration over the service rendered by officers in the Village office. 

Man dies in Bus-bike collision

KAZHAKOOTTAM: A biker died on Thursday after his vehicle collided with a KSRTC Fast passenger on National Highway near Kazhakoottam Greenfield stadium. The dead was identified as Kazhakoottam Mele Malakkadu house resident Vijayan Nair (60). The accident happened at 7 am.

The bike, which Vijayan was riding, collided with the Fast Passenger going to Kollam  from Thiruvananthapuram. Due to the impact of the collision, the bike was flung under the bus. A few locals and travellers who came that way suddenly rushed Nair to Medical College hospital but he was declared brought dead.   

Traffic police who reached the spot shifted the vehicles to the Traffic station.

CM files defamation case against VS

KAZHAKOOTTAM: A biker died on Thursday after his vehicle collided with a KSRTC Fast passenger on National Highway near Kazhakoottam Greenfield stadium. The dead was identified as Kazhakoottam Mele Malakkadu house resident Vijayan Nair (60). The accident happened at 7 am.

The bike, which Vijayan was riding, collided with the Fast Passenger going to Kollam  from Thiruvananthapuram. Due to the impact of the collision, the bike was flung under the bus. A few locals and travellers who came that way suddenly rushed Nair to Medical College hospital but he was declared brought dead.   

Traffic police who reached the spot shifted the vehicles to the Traffic station.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Student drowns in sea near Thrissur Thalikulam

THRISSUR: A student who went to take bath at Snehatheeram beach near Thrissur Thalikulam drowned on Monday. The dead has been identified as Anas (18). Another student Nissam also went missing. Both are natives of Thalikkulam natives.

Kerala student dies in Karnataka accident

MANDYA: In a road accident that happened in Karnataka’s Mandya on Monday, a Kerala student died.

The dead has been identified as Vadakara Kallatti native Moideen Anas (21). He was a third year engineering student of Ram Nagar Gausiya. The accident happened when his bike hit a divider. His friend Arif, who was riding pillion, was admitted to a Bangalore hospital.

Scarcity of drinking water: CM calls meeting

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has called a meeting at 9 on Thursday morning to evaluate the issues created by shortage of drinking water in Kerala. The chief minister will chair the meeting at the Conference hall. Finance, Revenue and Water resources ministers, chief secretary, Additional chief secretaries, Water resources chief engineer, water authority MD and other officials concerned have been asked to take part in the meeting. 

VS ready to face CM's legal action, if any

THRISSUR: Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said on Tuesday that if Chief Minister Oommen Chandy went ahead with legal action against him, he would face it. He was speaking during the election convention at Thrissur Thekke Gopura Nada on Tuesday.  
“Chandy is getting ready to file case against me for speaking against corruption. Let him file as many cases as he wants. Many VIPs have fought cases against me and failed. Saritha is also saying many things about him,” Achuthanandan said and then shifted the focus of his speech on ‘Modi bashing’.


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The education minister will announce the SSLC exam results on tommorow. Soon after the announcement, the results will become available on the website:

The result will also be available at Government Call Centre (Citizen Call Centre). One can contact BSNL (Land line): 155 300, BSNL (Mobile): 0471 - 155 300, 0471 – 2335523, 2115054 or 2115098 for results.

Suresh Gopi to swear in as RS member tomorrow

NEW DELHI: Actor Suresh Gopi didn’t take oath as Rajya Sabha member today as there was delay in receiving the official intimation regarding this. The actor, who will be arriving New Delhi today, will take the oath tomorrow.

But other five persons including Subramanyam Swami and Mary Kom nominated along with him took the oath today in front of Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present during the swearing in ceremony. 

Women allowed entry in 1000-yr-old mosque

KOTTAYAM: Muslim women have been allowed entry in the 1000-yr-old Kottayam Thazhathangadi mosque. This development has come up at a time when a hue and cry is being made over banning women in certain age-old temples and mosques. 
At this archaeologically resplendent Thazhatthangadi Juma Masjid, thousands of Muslim women and pilgrims pay visit every year.

However, women can enter, subject to certain strict conditions. Mosque Committee president Advocate Nawab Mulladam said special entry will be allowed on May 8.  Though the Mosque officials maintained that women were allowed entry for seeing the inside of the church and not for praying, certain women offered their prayers today. The mosque is also known as the oldest one in India.  

‘Film producer committed suicide due to bankruptcy’

KOLLAM: It is believed now that film producer and serial actor Ajaykrishnan (29) committed suicide due to his financial liabilities. His body was found hanging at his Thirumullavaram house.  He was the producer of Avalude Ravukal, the work of which was completed recently. 

He had also acted in Scene Onnu Nammude Veedu and several other serials. It was just the other day that he saw the preview of the film. He was worried whether the film would be a success. He is also known to have discussed this concern with his close relatives.

Though he reached his home on Saturday evening, the next day morning he was found dead inside his room. He was running a Microvave Tower installation company in Gulf after securing B Tech degree in India.

The body was cremated today. He was the son of Radhakrishna Pillai and Jayakumari from Kollam Thirumulluvaram Thekkedathu Ambadi house. Jiji is her sister.

Man stabs boy to death

KOCHI: In a shocking incident, a 10-year-old boy was allegedly stabbed to death at Pullepadiyil in Ernakulam. The gruesome murder happened at 7 on Tuesday morning and the victim has been identified as the son of John Risty residing at Pullepadi Krishna Swami Cross Road Parappalli house.

Risty was on his way back home after buying milk from a nearby shop, when the accused Ponnassei Saji Devasya  (40) attacked him.

The Ernakulam Central police have arrested Saji (40). The police suspect him to be a mentally  person. According to witnesses Devasya called the boy near him and stabbed in his neck and body several times.

With more than seventeen stabs on his neck and body, the boy was immediately rushed to a private hospital in Ernakulam. But, he succumbed to the injuries at the hospital.

The accused, who was on the run, was arrested later by the Central police.

Risty was a fifth standard student. The body will be handed over to his relatives after post-mortem. Risti’s communion was supposed to have happened in the next week.

Some rivalry between the families is presumed to be the reason behind the crime.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Four held for IPL spot fixing, betting

KOZHIKODE: Four persons were arrested for betting and spot fixing in connection with the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) and seized Rs 5.02 lakh from their possession in the district.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (North) K Ashraf told reporters IELTS student Mohammed Rasheed and three of his accomplices -- Ishbul Rehman, Shamshu and Harshad -- were arrested from a rented room at Kottaram Road last night while betting was on.

Giving details of their modus operandi, he today said they offered Rs 2,000 to bidders, predicting boundaries and 3,000 for sixers, who called on their mobile phone watching the game on television.

The bidders had to pay the equal amount to the operators if their prediction failed, he added.

They were later released on bail, police said.

Chandy threatens to sue VS

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Sunday threatened to sue opposition leader V S Achuthanandan if he did not stop telling lies.

Chandy said in a statement that the Marxist leader had said in a campaign speech that there were 136 cases registered against all except one minister in the state cabinet.

"VS says there are 31 cases registered against me. He should immediately tell me which are these cases. If he does not, I will be forced to take legal steps against him for this baseless slander," said Chandy.

"A mere complaint or a petition does not become a case. The first step in a case is registering an FIR. VS should produce one FIR," the chief minister added.

"The only FIR there is against former finance minister K M Mani and the state vigilance has submitted it to the court exonerating him and is right now in front of the vigilance court.

"He (Marxist leader) will soon have to withdraw this baseless statement and he is doing all this because he has got nothing to say against us and hence he is bluffing," Chandy added.

Chandy and VS are the star campaigners for their respective fronts: the ruling United Democratic Front and the Left Democratic Front.

Three killed in accident

MALAPPURAM: Three people, who were standing on a road side, were killed and another person injured seriously after they were run over by a speeding truck at Valancherry in Malappuram.

Police said the dead were identified as Fazil (18), Mohammed Naushad (23) and Remsiq (26) of Valancherry in the district.

The victims, returning on motor bikes after a night cricket tournament and standing on the road side, were run over by the lorry which apparently lost control.

The injured was admitted to Maulana Hospital Perinthalmanna, they added.

Fire at jewellery shop in Kozhikode

KOZHIKODE: A fire broke out at a famous jewellery shop in Kozhikode.

The fire broke out at the second and third floors of the building where the shop is located. There were no employees in the shop at the time of the incident.

The reason for the fire is not known. Fire force are trying to douse the fire. No casualty has been reported.

VS comes down heavily on Chandy

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan came down heavily on Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. He has only questions and no answers at all, criticized VS. This is a golden chance to reveal Chandy’s political gimmick, he said.

I had replied to Chandy’s political questions written in the Facebook. In that post, I have asked him some questions on issues like palmolein corruption and spy case.  However, he has not replied to anything. I had answered his questions but he failed to do so. This is his political stunt. I see this a golden chance to reveal his political gimmick, he said.

Facebook is another venue for it, he said.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

No anti-govt sentiments, people want continuity in governance: Chennithala

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala has said anti-government sentiments do not   prevail in the State and what the people are expecting is continuity in governance. A secular democratic movement to beat the challenges raised by the BJP-Sangh Parivar can be led only by the Congress. The people of Kerala will support the above movement.
At the programme ‘Vottu karyam’ organised at Kesari Memorial hall today, Chennithala said communalism and violent politics will be the main issues used in the UDF’s campaign. “For the making of modern Kerala, the UDF’s concept of consistent development is useful. The development during the last five years is a record. Mammoth projects like Vizhinjam, Kochi Metro and Kannur airport were taken up and the basic infrastructure was developed.”

“220 bridges were built. The LDF doesn’t have the foresight for long-term development. CPM’s signature is anti-development. Law and order is an essential thing for progress and development. During the last five years the government was able to make the police department people-friendly. Not even a single incident of gun firing or arson was reported in the State during this period. Unnecessary controversies are being made to cloud the developmental activities of the government,” said Chennithala.  
The home minister said the LDF will face the election unitedly. The KPCC president doesn’t have any Group and the high command will decide on who the chief minister should be.

The minister also criticised the LDF’s “foul play” in its liquor policy. He alleged that there was unholy nexus between the CPM and bar owners. “The CPM doesn’t have the energy to say that the closed bar will not be reopened. We are implementing liquor ban in a phased manner as abstinence from liquor is not practical. There is no change in the government’s liquor policy of ‘total liquor ban in ten years’. If the LDF comes to power, they will convert Kerala into a bar. We shall not allow converting three and four star hotels to five stars in order to escape liquor ban. Considering the people’s sentiments, we have also decided not to give bar licences to five star hotels from now on.”

Regarding Parvur fireworks tragedy, Chennithala said Crime branch, Deputy Director of Explosives and Judicial inquiries are progressing. “Once the report is available, strict action will be taken against offenders. They will not be protected. We have also not rejected Home Secretary Nalini Netto’s report. The government doesn’t mistrust her,” he said.

Brushing aside opinion poll results in favour of the LDF, the minister said all such opinion polls are forged data.
Don’t need Bengal kind of tie.

Ramesh said in Kerala, there was no need for CPM-Congress ties like the one happening in Bengal. “Congress’ main foe is CPM but Congress has never seen CPM as an untouchable but the CPM thinks otherwise. The cooperation shown by the RSP and Forward Block shows that the Left allies are aware that only the Congress can realise the concept of secular alternative,” he added.

Women steals gold from jewellery shop in Palakkad

PALAKKAD: Four women stole gold of 54 sovereigns on the pretext of purchasing it from a jewellery shop in the city in broad daylight. The incident happened at Thulasi Jewellery near the Jobees Mall on the busy G B Road at 10 am Wednesday morning.

The team who came to the shop carrying a baby on the pretext of purchasing gold first went through the ornaments displayed in a white box. As they were not satisfied with it asked for another model. When the employees went inside, two women went out with the ornaments of the first box. The other two were in the shop itself.

When the employees came with the new set, the two women examined it keenly. They showed no interest to buy it and went outside.  Only later the employees noticed that the gold was missing. Though they searched for them, the women were not to be traced. The police have started investigation. 

Collectorate CCTV examination kicks up new controversy

KOLLAM: The need for examination of footages from the CCTV installed at Kollam Collector’s chamber, in connection with Paravur Puttingal fireworks tragedy, has triggered a new controversy. The footages are expected to be important evidence in the case.

Five days ago, the Crime branch, investigating the case had given a letter to the collector A Shainamol in this connection. But now there are conflicting reports that the collector has given and not given the answer.  Now the latest news is that the Collectors had given the reply the she would not be able to handover the footages as the CCTV in her chamber had not been functioning for the past six months.

The collector banned the fireworks after Pankajakshi Amma, an old woman residing nearing the temple, had complained against the competitive fireworks. The temple officials who are now in the police custody, confessed that they had met collector to request her to revoke the ban. They said that they met collector at her chamber on April 8 and she told them that she would revoke the ban if the City police Commissioner gave the green signal. Following this they got the City police commissioner’s nod and conducted the fireworks. It was to confirm the above revelation that the Crime branch asked for the CCTV footages from the Collector.

Meanwhile Crime Branch S P Sreedharan said the department was expecting the Collector’s reply and the reports that she had already given the reply was false.  

UDF’s liquor policy a farce, says Pinarayi

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While the Congress-led UDF government has announced that prohibition will be in force by 2023, the opposition CPI-M has made it clear that they will not have any such policy if voted to power.

Speaking to reporters here, CPM politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan termed the liquor policy of the Oommen Chandy government a farce.

"Our policy is quite clear and we are interested and committed to bringing down the liquor consumption in the state. We do not subscribe to the policy of achieving prohibition," said Pinarayi.

Pinarayi also expressed confidence that the CPI-M-led LDF will win over 100 seats in the May 16 assembly polls.

"See, once the results are announced and we are invited to form the government, we will sit down to elect our leader. There are many of our leaders who are fit to become the chief minister," said Pinarayi, who in all likelihood would be chief minister should the LDF romp home.

He said the one reason why the LDF is set to return to office is that people in Kerala are "fed up" with the present Congress-led dispensation which, he said, is "just interested in engaging in corrupt practices".

"The people of Kerala are just waiting for the election day to express their anguish over the present government which has been a disaster. All of them want a change," said Pinarayi.

On the recently-formed BDJS -- the political outfit of Hindu Ezhava leader Vellapaly Natesan -- joining hands with the (BJP, Pinarayi said it will not have any impact. He added that "the disconnect between the two has now surfaced" with regard to the policy of reservation.

"While Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the policy of reservation would be there for SCs and STs Community, the RSS is clear that there need be no reservation at all. But Vellappally demands reservation, so there is confusion galore," he said.

"Chandy thought this new alliance will benefit them as Natesan will eat into the Ezhava votes while he kept silent. But during the recent local body polls, this came a cropper, and hence we know for certain this is not going to have any impact," added Pinarayi.

Asked about the relationship the CPI-M has recently struck with the Congress party in West Bengal, Pinarayi said the Congress party's presence there is hardly of any significance. He said he was not aware of any electoral tie-up and added that it has no significance for the polls in Kerala.

In reply to a question, Pinarayi said the resolution passed against V S Achuthanandan for his indiscipline last year still stands, but his contesting the polls need not be linked to the resolution.

VS should keep off poll fray if he has self-esteem: Kummanam

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: BJP State president Kummanam Rajasekharan has said veteran CPM leader VS Achuthanandan should not contest under the party ticket if he has the self-esteem. He said he was making such a comment in the wake of CPM leader Pinarayi reiterating that VS is a party “renegade”.

Kummanam said he felt pity for CPM for having to field a candidate, who had been branded as a party renegade. making him act like a buffoon.”

He added in his statement that there was nothing surprising if the Maraikulam model repeated in Malampuzha.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Trinamool will contest 124 seats in Kerala; Mamata Banerjee coming

KOCHI: Trinamool Congress State leaders have announced that the party will contest 124 seats in Kerala in the coming Assembly election. The party’s national president and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will visit Kerala for the election campaign.  

The party State president Manoj Shankara Nellore released the candidates’ list. In the rest of the seats, the party men will vote according to their conscience, say the party leaders. Trinamool will not field candidates in constituencies contested by CPM leaders Pinarayi Vijayan and V S Achuthanandan.

The date of Mamata’s Kerala visit is not yet fixed. She will be addressing people in various constituencies. A gathering of Trinamool candidates will be organised in Thrissur Thekkinkadu maidan on April 29.

Fireworks tragedy: Accused in five-day police custody

KOLLAM: The Crime branch police have been given the custody of the accused in the Paravur Puttingal temple tragedy. The order in this regard was given by Paravur Munsiff Magistrate M Satheeshan.

The 13 accused include temple office-bearers and fireworks contractors and they will be in police custody till April 20.
Earlier, there were heated arguments and counter-arguments between the Prosecution and the defence counsel, while plea for the police custody was being considered by the court. The defence counsel was in a spot when the court asked how only the temple officials escaped unhurt in the explosion. Though he tried to argue that some of them were hurt, the advocate was not able to point out any serious victims among them. When he tried to draw attention to the blame game between the police and the revenue department, the Prosecution opposed it strongly. He also argued that the fireworks was a usual affair conducted with the permission of authorities. There was no competitive fireworks. He also pleaded to the court to make the police also an accused in the case.

Strongly contenting the above arguments, the Prosecution said, “it was not the appropriate time to go into the merits of the case as it was being investigated by a special investigation agency”.    

Will not oppose C K Janu, says Geethanandan

KOCHI: Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha coordinator M Geethanandan has said that he will neither oppose nor support Adivasi leader C K Janu, who will be contesting as the NDA candidate from Sultan Bathery.

At a press conference here, he said she had been asked to relinquish Gothra Mahasabha chief’s post.   

“The Gothra Mahasabha disapproves of Janu joining the BJP-led NDA. At the same time, Right and Left fronts didn’t have the broadmindedness to accept Janu. They went after film stars and didn’t lent ears to what Janu had to say,” he said.  

Geethanandan said: “What UDF and LDF tried was to help and protect encroachers’ lobby. Janu is a representation of the aspirations of 40 gothras (tribes). We shall accept her if she returns from the BJP. We shall support leaders who have led independent people’s agitations. We’ll support Pempillai Orumai in Devikulam and environmentalist John Peruvanthanam in Perumbavur.”

Row over Thiruvalla candidate ends.

THIRUVALLA: The opposition expressed by senior Congress leader P J Kurien over giving Thiruvalla constituency seat to Kerala Congress State General Secretary Joseph M Puthussery for the upcoming Assembly election has ended.   

There were allegations that Joseph M Puthessery had played a major role to defeat Kerala Congress (M) district president Victor through cross-voting, last time. So Kurien’s demand was that such a person be not allowed to contest the election  

But, after Kerala Congress (M) Chariman K M Mani held ice-breaker talks with Kurien, the latter said at a press-conference that his was just an opinion and Mani’s explanation had cleared his concerns.  

“Mani’s explanation was satisfactory. I had certain misunderstandings and now all that have been sorted out,” said Kurien while Mani said he could convince Kurien of the reality. He added that the victory was certain for UDF in Thiruvalla and UDF would work unitedly for Puthussery.

Kurien said the UDF’s election campaign would start on Sunday itself and the campaign would be intensified with the support of Constituency committee.

Congress worker attacked

PANUR: A Congress worker was injured when he was hacked yesterday at Palathayiyil under Panur Police Station limits. The injured is Pullukara Thadathil Muhammed Anas (25) and the incident happened at around 10 pm.

Anas was riding his bike, when he was waylaid and attacked using deadly weapons. The Congress man, who had sustained serious injuries in head and leg, was admitted to Thalassery Indira Gandhi Cooperative hospital and later operated upon.

The Congressmen alleged that the CPM was behind the attack.   UDF Koothuparambu constituency candidate K P Mohanan, DCC General Secretary K P Saju and Block Congress president K P Hashim visited the youth.

C K Janu gets death threat

KALPATTA: Sultan Bathery constituency’s NDA candidate and Adivasi leader C K Janu received a death threat yesterday. She got the threat through a letter delivered at his Panavalli house. In the letter it is said that she will be killed if she contests from Sultan Bathery constituency.  

“We have sent goons, who had killed Chandrasekharan at Onchiyam to Bathery Muthanga Gundalpetta surroundings. If we lose our votes, you and your family will be attacked,” said the letter prepared in the name of CPM Kodiyeri Tiger Force, Thalassery.
Meanwhile, BDJS District president N K Shaji has handed C K Janu’s complaint in this regard to police. It is also suspected whether the letter is a ploy to divert votes.

Attingal twin murder: Prosecution for death penalty, convicts for leniency

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the Attngal murder case, the prosecution has sought death penalty for first accused Lino Mathew and second accused and his lover Anu Shanthi.

Special public prosecutor on Friday made a plea to the court to consider it as the rarest of rare cases.

But the Defence counsel pleaded for leniency. Anushanthi broke down in front of the judge and pleaded that she may not be branded as the woman who killed her son. "I did not abet the killing of my daughter. I am ready to face any penalty other than the death penalty," she said crying profusely.

Nino pleaded not guilty and sought a small penalty.

The sentence will be pronounced on Monday.

12 killed, 11 injured in Saudi factory fire

JUBAIL: Twelve people were killed and 11 others were injured with six in critical conditions after fire broke out in a petrochemical factory in Saudi Arabia’s largest industrial area located east of the kingdom early Saturday, state news agency SPA reported.

The incident took place in an area that was under construction and during routine maintenance at Jubail United Petrochemical Company plant.

The fire broke out when technicians of the maintenance contractor were replacing catalysts in the plant. Due to heavy smoke people suffered suffocation. The condition of the injured is stable said spokesman for the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Abdulqader.

The CEO of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu Dr. Muslih Al–Otaibi and United Company Chairman Adel Al-Sharidi visited the injured and the accident scene.

The Civil Defense and fire fighters were able to extinguish the fire after 10 minutes of its break out at 11:40 am local time. While the fire was small, it left people with severe smoke inhalation injuries, SPA reported.

(Source: Saudi Gazette )

Bar bribery case postponed to April 30

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Thiruvananthapuram Vigilance court has postponed to April 30 the hearing on the further investigation report prepared by Vigilance S P  Sukesan, acquitting former finance minister K M Mani in the bar bribery case. As it was a holiday for the court, the information was given through a special notification.    

Sukesan had submitted the further probe report after rejecting the initial finding that Mani took Rs 25 lakh as bribe in two instalments. The court will also be considering the petition filed by others including Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan, demanding rejection of the further investigation report. 
The high court had rejected the petition filed by Mani last week, seeking to stop further Vigilance court procedures. The court had said that the Vigilance court could go ahead with procedures including trial.

Mani had approached the high court with the above demand as investigation official Sukesan was facing Crime Branch investigation. The court had also rebuked the government for not submitting the evidence in Sukesan’s case.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Attingal twin murder: Both accused found guilty; Sentencing on Monday

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The two accused in the Attingal twin murder case that shocked the conscience of the State two years ago have been found guilty by District Principal Sessions Court judge V Shercy.

Techno park employees Nino Mathew (40) and Anu Shanthi (32) were found guilty in the case in which Alamkodu Mannur Thushar resident Omana (57) and her granddaughter Swasthika (Anushanthi’s daughter) were murdered and an attempt was made to murder Anushanthi’s husband Lijesh.

The quantum of punishment will be announced on Monday.

The murder happened on April 16, 2014. According to the prosecution, Anushanthi had connived with his paramour Nino to kill her mother-in-law and daughter. Kulathur resident Nino Mathew was the project manager of Fincher Company in the Technopark. Anushanthi was the team leader in the same company. The extramarital affair between Anushanthi and Nino had led to the murder.

In the case investigated by former Attingal CI Anil Kumar and DySP Prathapan Nair, District government pleader and prominent advocate V S Vineeth Kumar is the public prosecutor.

Vineeth was the public prosecutor in Varkala Salim murder case and Harihara Varma murder case. He submitted statements of 49 witnesses including Lijesh Kumar, 41 material evidence and 85 case-related documents to the court.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

HC allows fireworks display in Pooram festival

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court Thursday allowed low-decibel fireworks display during the ongoing Pooram festival in Thrissur, exempting it from the ban imposed in the wake of Kollam Puttingal temple tragedy on Sunday that claimed 114 lives.

No unauthorised chemicals should be used in the fireworks and the sound level should not exceed 125 decibel, a division bench comprising Justices Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice Anu Sivaraman said in the order.

The bench was hearing a plea by the private Paramekkavu and Thirvambadi Devaswoms, which fund the annual Pooram festival in the premises of the famous Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur, for permission to hold fireworks display. The festival is currently on and will culminate on Apr 18.

While sustained exposure to decibel level below 125 may result in hearing loss, after 125 it may cause pain.

The High Court on Tuesday banned high-decibel fireworks after sunset in places of worship across Kerala after the Puttingal tragedy.

The High Court held a special sitting today despite a public holiday on account of harvest festival "Vishu" that marks the commencement of the Malayalam New Year.

The division bench's order came after the organising committee of the Pooram festival cited a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that gave exemption to holding of fireworks display as part of its culture and traditions.

Keralites celebrate a low key Vishu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Keralites Thursday celebrated a low key Vishu in the backdrop of Kollam temple tragedy which had left 114 dead and over 350 injured.

Vishu falls in the Malayalam month of 'Medam' and people look ahead to a year of plenty and prosperity.

People woke up in the early hours to see the auspicious Vishukkani symbolising hope, promise and fine prospects they wish to have in the year ahead.

The ritual consists of arranging on platters auspicious articles like seasonal fruits, vegetables, flower, gold and clothes which together form the first sight of the people when they woke up on the Vishu day.

People living around the temple complex, where the tragedy occurred during the fireworks display, are yet to recover from the shock of enormity of the mishap.

Many families in the area have either moved to houses of relatives or are busy repairing damaged portions of their residences.

People also harbour apprehensions about the purity of the water in the wells as most of them are filled with crackers and concrete debris in the aftermath of the explosion.

"There is no water or food in the house. When I close my eyes, the screams of the people still haunt me", said a housewife living near the temple.

There was a heavy rush of pilgrims in the various temples in the state, including the Sri Krishna temple at Guruvayur and Lord Ayyappa temple and Sabarimala for the 'vishukani' darshan.

Kerala Governor Justice (Retd) M Sathasivam and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy were among those who greeted people on the occasion.

Paravur tragedy: No need for a CBI probe now, curb on fireworks enough

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: There is no need for a CBI probe now in the fireworks tragedy at Paravur, said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Talking to reporters after the all party meeting, he said fireworks need not be banned but it should be restrained.

Through an affidavit the government will inform their stand to the high court that a CBI probe is not needed now.No one can influence the crime branch probe. The crime branch has noticed that it was a competitive display of fireworks seen in Paravur. The temple trust members are under custody. The probe is moving in the right track, he said.

The all party meet decided to form a special rehabilitation fund for those involved in the accident. The government will request the high court to lift the ban on fireworks for the Thrissur Pooram. The chief minister and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said they will seek permission to conduct pooram within the law.

TN withdraws plea for security at Mullaperiyar dam

NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday withdrew its interim plea seeking deployment of CISF to protect Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala after the Supreme Court objected to filing of such pleas in an already decided case.

“Once the decree is passed, you cannot file interim applications in it. You seek execution of the decree and you may seek review of the verdict if you want any modification,” a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur said.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for Tamil Nadu, then said the State will file a review petition in the matter.

The state government, in its plea, had sought a direction that the dam be secured by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), as Kerala does not facilitate the management of the dam by Tamil Nadu employees.

Tamil Nadu government had in February last year moved the apex court seeking CISF security for the dam, which is currently handled by the Kerala government.

In its May 7, 2014 verdict, the Supreme Court had held that the 120-year-old Mullaperiyar dam is safe and allowed the Tamil Nadu government to raise the water level to 142 feet and ultimately to 152 feet after completion of strengthening measures on the dam.

In a setback to Kerala government, which had been fighting a decade-old legal battle with the neighbouring state, a five- judge Constitution Bench had struck down a law promulgated by it declaring Mullaperiyar dam as endangered and fixing the water level at 136 feet.

Kerala had later moved the apex court for clarification on its verdict and contended that the water storage should not be increased to 142 feet until all the 13 spillover gates of the dam were operational. It later withdrew its application and decided to go before the three-member Mullaperiyar committee.

The apex court had earlier too dismissed Kerala’s plea to review its 2014 verdict saying there was no reason to interfere with the judgement of the Constitution Bench.

Mullaperiyar dam is a masonry dam and was constructed pursuant to the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement of October 29, 1886 across Periyar river. The construction continued for about eight years and was completed in 1895.

The dam is situated in Thekkady district in Kerala and is owned and operated by Tamil Nadu government. The length of the main dam is 1200 feet and top of the dam is 155 feet.

Keywords: Mullaperiyar dam, inter-state dispute, CISF protection, water rights

LPG tanker overturns in Malappuram

MALAPPURAM: A gas tanker carrying liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Mangalore overturned at Randathani in the district early Thursday morning.

The driver of the tanker sustained injuries. There was no leakage from the tanker. Transportation on the national highway was disrupted following the incident. It is suspected that the accident is likely to have happened after the driver dozed off.

The police and fire force rushed to the spot and made sure that there was no gas leak. Efforts have started to shift the gas to another tanker.

Paravur fireworks tragedy: One more succumbs to injuries

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With a 40-year-old man succumbing to injuries at a hospital here Thursday, the toll in the temple firework tragedy in Kollam rose to 114.

Sathyan, who was undergoing treatment at the hospital after suffering 50 per cent burns, died this morning, hospital sources said.

He belonged to Edayad at Paravoor in Kollam.

More than 300 persons were still undergoing treatment at hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam for the injuries they sustained in the April 10 tragedy, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the government has convened an all-party meeting in the Chief Minister's office here in the afternoon to discuss issues related to fireworks.

The meeting would be attended by representatives of all major political parties in the state.

A three-member cabinet sub-committee consisting of ministers Adoor Prakesh, Shibu Baby John and V S Sivakumar would visit the accident site for an on the spot assessment of the loss suffered to properties following the accident and rehabilitation measures to be undertaken.

The fire tragedy at the 100-year-old Puttingal Devi temple had occurred during an unauthorized display of fireworks early Sunday morning after a spark from a firecracker fell on the storehouse containing crackers, triggering powerful explosions.

Thrissur Pooram: Govt lifts curb on parading of elephants

KOTTAYAM: The government withdrew principal chief forest conservator’s circular curbing parading of elephants as part of the Thrissur Pooram. Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said this decision was taken as there should not be any interruption for the conduct of the pooram.

The main directive of the circular was that elephants should not be paraded from 10 am to 5 pm. The main parade of the pooram is held from 7.30 to 6. The order says the belly of the elephants taken for the parade should keep a distance of three metres and their heads of four meters. If this is followed, then they will not be able to parade the elephants for the kudamattom. Not only that the chief forest conservator has directed that an elephant should be paraded only for three hours on a single day.  

Minister Thiruvanchoor said the circular released without government’s consent has no legal validity. The Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu devaswoms had lodged a complaint to the minister. The situation to release the order has been examined and an explanation has been sought from the official who signed the order. The government will take all steps for the smooth conduct of the Pooram. The minister said the government has entrusted chief wild life warden Harikumar to talk to the devaswoms.

With the Kollam temple tragedy bringing to focus safety issues, the Thrissur district administration imposed regulations including use of low decibel crackers. Also a control was imposed on parading of elephants. The pooram is on Sunday.

Keralite student succumbs to injuries in Bengaluru

KOZHIKODE: A student of Kerala who was under treatment after a bike struck her at the college campus in Bengaluru, died here Thursday. She has been identified as Nileena Chandran of Perambra in Kozhikode and a student of Tumkur Sri Siddhartha Dental College.

The bike driven by a native of Hyderabad fatally knocked her down in the campus during the Holi celebrations on March 23. She sustained serious head injuries. She was admitted at the Ramaiah Medical College Hospital in Bengaluru. Though there was a progress in her health condition, her condition turned serious and she breathed her last.  

There was an allegation that the management and the police refused to take action against the student.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Organisers planning to avoid jumbos, fireworks in Thrissur pooram

THRISSUR: Organisers of Thrissur pooram are contemplating on reducing the event to a ritual sans jumbo show or fireworks. The move is in the wake of today’s high court order seeking to ban high-decibel fireworks after dusk. The emergency meeting of Paramekkavu-Thiruvambadi Devaswoms will discuss the matter.  

Fireworks at Sabarimala banned

SABARIMALA: Fireworks in Sabarimala was banned on Tuesday. Pathanathitta District Collector Hari Kishore banned the fireworks based on the report submitted by the police and Fire force that fireworks were conducted without following proper safety measures.  
The police had earlier reported that the fireworks were being conducted in Sabarimala without following safety instructions. Crackers for the fireworks were stored near copra shed. Mounts of temple waste were also burnt  near this very Copra shed. This is a great threat to the safety of devotees. 420 kg explosives has been stocked without licence. Devaswom Board’s licence to keep possession of explosives expired on March 31. Though the board was asked to renew the licence, it has been showing a negligent attitude,” the report had said.

MLA arrested for storing explosives in excess

THRISSUR: CMP State Secretary and former MLA M K Kannan was arrested on Tuesday for storing explosive materials beyond the permissible limit. The explosive was in sales depot of the cooperative society headed by him. 

The permission was there to store 400 kg fire crackers but in the raid conducted by the police 2000kg crackers were recovered. This was followed by his arrest. The MLA got bail later.

In 1980, Kannan was a Thrissur MLA. There were reports he would be contesting from Thrissur this time also. 

The police had intensified checking in the wake Paravur fireworks tragedy. As many as 112 persons died in Sunday’s incident and many with severe injuries are battling for life in various hospitals.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Temple officials go missing after tragedy

KOLLAM: Top officials of the Puttingal Devi temple in the state have reportedly gone missing after an illegal fireworks show left some 110 people dead early on Sunday, police sources said.

The police have registered a case of culpable homicide against senior temple officials. An IANS correspondent tried to reach them on their mobile telephones but they were switched off.

A case has also been registered against the father-son duo of Surendran and Umesh who had organized the fireworks display. Both are being treated at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital.

The fireworks show is an annual event held during the Malayalam month of Meenam, which falls in April, in the temple located in the coastal town of Paravur, about 60 km from Thiruvananthapuram.

A resident close to the temple told IANS that till last year the fireworks display involved a competition between two groups.

"This time permission was not granted but a pamphlet circulated on Saturday mentioned prizes for the best fireworks show," said the resident, who did not want to be identified by name.

According to him, the fireworks would normally begin to be exploded around 10.30 pm the previous night, by when all rituals associated with the temple get over and the shrine is closed for the night.

Elephants are part of the temple celebrations but these are moved out of the area before the firecrackers are exploded.

The fireworks show begins around 11 pm and goes on till about 4 am the next morning, said another devotee. Sunday's tragedy occurred about 30 minutes before the show was to end.

"The fireworks display of this temple is quite popular and it attracts lots of people from nearby areas. There were around 15,000 people both in and around the temple complex on Saturday," said the resident.

Some residents claimed that concrete pieces went flying after a huge quantity of firecrackers stored in a building exploded with a roar after a spark from a firecracker hit the structure.

One concrete piece reportedly hit a two-wheeler driver a kilometer away.

Fortunately, fire tenders and medical personnel were on duty at the temple -- as a matter of routine.

The building where the powerful firecrackers had been stored collapsed, burying many, witnesses said.

IMA to move HC seeking ban on fireworks display

KOCHI: In the wake of the temple tragedy, which killed 110 people, Indian Medical Association Sunday decided to move the Kerala High Court seeking a ban on display of deadly fireworks which are common in the state during festivals and political programmes.

IMA Kerala president Dr A V Jayakrishnan said their Thiruvananthapuram branch President Dr R C Sreekumar would file a writ petition before the High Court, seeking to curb use of firecrackers causing high-level noise pollution during festivals and other occasions.

"We all feel that a judicial intervention is the only way to prevent such tragedies. Prompted by this temple fire tragedy, our Thiruvananthapuram branch has decided to approach the High Court," Dr Jayakrishnan told reporters.

Immediate past Vice President of IMA Kerala, Dr Abraham Varghese said the high-level noise caused by fireworks in temples and other places of worship causes severe ear damage, brings about diabetes and could also precipitate asthmatic attacks among people.

He said thousands of people gather every year at the precincts of temples and other places of worship in Kerala to witness the display of fireworks and they are unaware of its health hazards.

"So it has to be controlled. We are trying to create awareness among public on what high sound is," he said.

110 people were killed and over 280 injured in a major fire in the Puttingal Devi Temple complex at Paravoor near Kollam in Kerala today during a display of fireworks early this morning.

The fire erupted when sparks emanating from a fireworks display ignited a store room filled with crackers and pyrotechnic material.

VS wants sitting judge to probe temple tragedy

KOLLAM: A judicial commission led by a sitting judge should probe the temple tragedy in Paravoor, said opposition leader V S Achuthanandan. He said the tragedy should be declared as a national catastrophe. Talking to reporters after visiting the spot, he said the government appointed a retired judge to probe the case.

VS said the best treatment should be provided to the accident victims. The fireworks were displayed violating rules and regulations. All things including it should be brought under investigation limits. The fireworks were displayed even after the district collector denied permission for it.

Pathanapuram candidate K B Ganesh Kumar too accompanied VS.

Modi visits temple fire accident spot, expresses grief

KOLLAM: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here on Sunday afternoon and along with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy drove to the Puttingal Devi temple in Peravur town, where a fire left 110 people dead and over 350 injured.

Modi, who arrived in Thiruvananthapuram from Delhi on an Indian Air Force aircraft, reached Kollam on a helicopter.

Modi was received by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at the Ashramam ground in Kollam. The prime minister asked Chandy to join him in his vehicle to the temple.

Modi spent about 10 minutes walking around the temple complex, and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and Lok Sabha member N K Premachandran were seen explaining to him the sequence of the events that led to the tragedy.

From the temple site, Modi and Chandy drove to the Kollam district hospital where around 185 of the injured people are undergoing treatment.

The tragedy occurred around 3.30 am when a spark from a firecracker landed on a building where a large quantity of crackers was stored, setting off explosions and a massive blaze that caused destruction in no time, witnesses said.

Speaking to reporters at the accident site, Chennithala said the prime minister was very particular about the way unclaimed bodies were to be handled.

"He said special care and attention should be taken to see that DNA test is done on such bodies. He also asked about the compensation that the state government will pay. He will also hold a meeting with the chief minister after visiting the injured at the Kollam district hospital," said Chennithala.

Major fire at Puttingal Devi temple in Kollam leaves over 110 dead

KOLLAM: In a huge tragedy, 110 people were killed and over 280 injured in a major fire that broke out in Puttingal Devi Temple complex near Paravoor in Kollam on Sunday during a display of fireworks for which there was no permission from the authorities.

Thousands of people had gathered at the temple precincts to witness the display of fireworks which was underway since midnight when the blaze erupted at around 3.30 am, police said.

The mishap occurred as sparks of the fireworks fell on the store room 'Kambapura' and the fire crackers kept there exploded with a deafening noise, police said.

The sound of the explosion could be heard over a radius of one kilometer and the whole area plunged into darkness as the power supply went off and people ran helter skelter, eyewitnesses said.

In the huge blaze, 110 people perished and 280 were injured, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters.

A massive effort was launched to rescue the people from the inferno and shift the injured people to hospitals, with the Navy and the Air Force pressing into service six helicopters and one Dornier aircraft.

The Chief Minister said the District Collector of Kollam had not given permission to conduct the fireworks.

District Collector A Shainamol said "no permission for any kind of fireworks" was given.

She said the temple authorities had asked for permission to conduct competitive fireworks which was denied. For normal fireworks, no permission was sought and hence there was no question of granting it, the DC said.

Police sources said a case has been registered against temple authorities and explosive licencees under section 307 (Attempt to murder), and 308 (Attempt to commit culpable homicide) of IPC and under section 4 of Explosives Substances Act.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who termed the incident as "heart-rending" and "shocking", announced Rs two lakh each as compensation for the next of the kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 each for the injured.

He rushed to Kerala to take stock of the situation, carrying along with him a team of burn specialist doctors.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Shanimol to contest from Ottapalam; Kaipamangalam for RSP

PALAKKAD: KPCC president V M Sudheeran has informed that Shanimol will be the Congress candidate from the Ottapalam constituency in Palakkad district. Former MLA A K Mani will contest from Devikulam.

Earlier, Shanta Jayaram was chosen as the candidate for Ottapalamm but she was removed as candidate as the local leaders strongly opposed to her candidature.  

Sudheeran announced the names of new candidates after holding talks with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala.

Ramajaram was also removed as Devikulam candidate following opposition.

Sudheeran said it was decided to give Kaipamangalam to RSP. Though RSP demanded Payyanur seat, Congress was not ready for it. The Congress also chose candidates for Kanjangadu, Payyanur and Kalyassery.

Sudheeran said there would not be any more changes in the candidates’ list. The final declaration will be made by Congress high command. Babu George was appointed as Pathanamthitta UDF convenor and Josey Sebastian as Kottayam convenor.  Talks with INTUC president R Chandrasekharan will continue to sort out the issue raised by them.  “The Congress can sense the sentiments of INTUC. We hope to solve all issues amicably tomorrow,” he added.

Aluva mass killing: SC stays death penalty

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has stayed the capital punishment awarded to convict Antony in Aluva mass murder case that had shocked the conscience of Kerala. 

The stay has come in response to the petition filed by the convict, seeking to review the procedures including the rejection of his mercy petition. The petition was considered by the bench headed by Deepak Mishra. Antony’s mercy petition was rejected by the President on April 27. 

In the midnight of January 6, 2001, the accused hacked to death Aluva Manjooran house resident Augustine (48), wife Mary (42) and daughters Divya (14) and Jesmon (12), Augustine’s mother Clara (78) and sister Kochu Rani (38). 

The CBI special court had awarded death penalty to Antony. Though he appealed against the death row in the high court and the Supreme Court, the verdict was upheld in both courts.

According to the prosecution, Antony killed his childhood friend Kochu Rani out of rage after she failed to give him money to go abroad after he got visa.

Rahul Eswar to lodge complaint against CPM, Kairali channel

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: BJP candidate Rahul Eswar said at a press conference here on Saturday that he would file a complaint against CPM leadership and Kairali channel for propagating the “fake news” that he kept off certain persons in the name of caste during the inauguration of Guruvayur BJP office.

“The false allegation is that since I am a Brahman, I kept people from backward communities away from the inaugural function.  The party and channel should restrain themselves from spreading such fake news that would only help to instil animosity among people on the basis of caste and religion,” he said.

Former block Panchayat president Kavitha dies in accident

MAVELIKKARA: Former Mavelikkara block panchayat president Kavitha Sajeevan (40) has died in a bike accident. She was riding pillion with her husband Sajeevan along with her son Ananthakrishnan on their way back from Chettikulangara Devi Temple at around 10:30 pm on Friday. They had gone to attend the annual temple festival. Their bike overturned while giving side to a vehicle that came opposite to them at Panachamoodu petrol pump near the temple.

Kavitha, who fell off the bike, went and banged her head against a post. Sajeevan’s hand was injured while their son escaped unhurt.

Though Kavitha was soon rushed to a private hospital in Thattarambalam, she succumbed to her head injuries soon. Kavitha’s husband is a resident of Purathu Parambil house and ‘well’ worker. He is an active members of the CPM. Kavitha was also a CPM local committee member.

Mani-Shankar Reddy conspiracy flopped, says VS

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan in a statement has said that the conspiracy hatched by K M Mani and Vigilance Director Shankar Reddy to get stay in bar bribery case and come out clean has failed after the recent high court order.   

He demanded that Mani keep off the poll fray as the trial in the bar bribery case is to begin on April 18.

“Mani and Reddy have been trying to create the impression that Bar bribery case is the result of the conspiracy between S P Sueksan and Bar Owner Biju Ramesh. The high court has also questioned the credibility of the CD made to substantiate this. UDF’s henchman Shankar Reddy was even ready to forge a case against honest police officer Sukesan, using a fake CD. He would rather go on leave following the footsteps of Winson M Paul,” V S said.

Octogenarian kills wife, son after row over AC usage

ANGAMALY: A man bludgeoned to death his wife and son after a duel over use of Air conditioner. The accused Paul (84) has been arrested. The incident happened at Karukutty in Angamaly at 1:30 am on Saturday.    

The murdered were Paul’s wife Mary (74) and son Thomas (54).
A retired Railway office supt, Paul was living with his wife and son. According to neighbours, there were frequents quarrels over escalating electricity bill and discontinuation of evening prayer sessions in the house.

According to the police, yesterday also Paul picked a quarrel with his wife and son. Paul’s wife and son slept in a room and he turned furious, seeing the AC on in their room at around 1:30 am. The irate Paul went straight to car shed, picked up an iron road, returned to the room and smashed his son’s head. Mary, who woke up and started yelling seeing the incident was also bludgeoned using the same road.  

After the incident, Paul called up his relatives to inform about what he had done.
The high way police and Fire force personnel reached the spot after they were alerted by the relatives. Though both were shifted to a private hospital in Angamaly, the son had already died while the mother died at the hospital.

After coming to know about the deaths, the accused made an attempt to hang himself, but this was foiled by the locals.
Paul’s NRI son Johny’s daughter was sleeping in another room while the murder was committed. Thomas was a divorcee and he was living with his father and mother after the break up

The bodies have been taken to Alappuzha for post-mortem. DySP Christom, CI K Viswanathan and SI Sameesh has initiated further procedures.