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Rules relaxed post PM Modi’s suggestion, 1300 Muslim women to go for Haj without male companion

1300 Muslim women will go on Haj this year without “mehram” or male companion as they have been exempted from the lottery system and will proceed to the pilgrimage directly, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi announced today. The announcement came soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suggestion that Muslim women who have applied to go for Haj without “mehram” should get preference.Terming the policy of allowing Muslim women to perform Haj only in the company of a male guardian as “injustice, ” PM Modi said that he has suggested to the Ministry of Minority Affairs that they should ensure that all women who have applied to travel alone be allowed to perform Haj.In his monthly radio address of ‘Mann ki baat’, Modi said his government removed the restriction following which hundreds of women have applied to travel alone for the pilgrimage.According to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, now Muslim women aged above 45 are allowed to go for the pilgrimage without ‘mehram’ in a group of at least four.Also readMann Ki Baat: PM Modi hails Anjum Bashir’s Kashmir Civil Service exam featAfter Modi’s radio programme, Naqvi announced on Twitter that all 1300 women applicants will be exempted from the lottery system.”After PM Shri @narendramodi Ji‘s suggestion, I assure that those about 1300 women, who have applied to go for Haj without “Mehram” (male companion), will be exempted from the lottery system and allowed to proceed on Haj. #MannKiBaat,” Naqvi said. In his last radio programme of the year, the prime minister said removal of the restriction of having a male guardian or ‘mehram’ may appear as a “small thing”, but such issues “have a far-reaching impact on our image as a society”.He said when he first heard of the restriction, he was surprised as to who would have drafted such a rule.”Why this discrimination? And when I went into the depth of the matter I was surprised to find that even after 70 years of our independence, we were the ones who had imposed these restrictions. For decades, injustice was being rendered to Muslim women but there was no discussion on it,” he said in his broadcast.He pointed out that such a restriction is not prevalent in many Islamic countries.”I am happy to note that this time about 1300 Muslim women have applied to perform Haj without ‘mehram’ and women from different parts of the country from Kerala to north India, have expressed their wish to go for the Haj pilgrimage,” he said.He said he has suggested to the Ministry of Minority Affairs that they should ensure that all women who have applied to travel alone be allowed to perform Haj.Also readMann ki Baat highlights: PM Narendra Modi shares his 2018 vision, says new India will be free from corruption”Usually there is a lottery system for selection of Haj pilgrims but I would like that single women pilgrims should be excluded from this lottery system and they should be given a chance as a special category,” he said.He said it is his firm belief that the journey of India?s progress has been possible due to women-power and on the basis of their talent…It should be our constant endeavour that our women also get equal rights and equal opportunities…,” he said.While referring to Muslim women and their rights, the prime minister did not mention about the bill passed by Lok Sabha last week which bans the practice of instant triple talaq.He, however, had referred to the issue of instant triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat’ while inaugurating the 85th Sivagiri Pilgrimage Celebrations at Sivagiri Mutt in Kerala via video conference this morning.Referring to Christmas, Modi said Jesus Christ taught us about the spirit of service or ‘sewa bhaav’.”Be it any religion, caste or creed, tradition or colour in this world; the spirit of service is an invaluable hallmark of the highest human values,” he said.He also recalled the life of Guru Gobind Singh which was full of instances of courage and sacrifice.On the 350th anniversary of the Sikh guru, he said Guru Gobind Singh preached the virtues of sublime human values and at the same time, practiced them in his own life in letter and spirit.(With PTI inputs)

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New law has ensured development of areas in which mines are located: Centre

A new law, which has made it mandatory for spending of a part of revenue made from auctioning mines in developing the areas they are located in, has resulted in improved living conditions of people in these regions, government claimed today.Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told the Lok Sabha that district mineral foundations, which were created after the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act came into being, have received Rs 13,398 crore and Rs 2,260 crore have been spent so far in developing local areas.This money will be spent on the affected people and areas, Tomar said while replying to a question during the Question Hour.”The changes in the MMDR Act are benefiting people. Their living condition is changing,” he said.To supplementaries regarding the steps Centre has taken to curb illegal mining, he said the law against it has been made more stringent as it now entails five-year jail term and Rs 5 lakh fine instead of a two-year term and Rs 25,000 fine earlier.States have also been asked to set up special courts to try cases of illegal mining, Tomar said.To a question from NK Premachandran (RSP) about lack of action against illegal miners in Kerala, the minister said it was for the states to act against them.Tomar also acknowledged that there was a crisis in the availability of sand and his cabinet colleague Nitin Gadkari, who is in charge of highway constructions, has also spoken about it.A committee under the mining secretary has been formed to ensure easier availability of sand, he said.The government has made it mandatory to auction mines of major minerals, he said, adding it has suggested to the states to go for auctions of minor mines too.Nine states have earned Rs 1.69 lakh crore by auctioning 33 of 88 blocks of mines, he said.

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53% children face one or more forms of sexual abuse: Govt tells Parliament

A centrally-sponsored survey has found that more than 53% children in the country faced one or more forms of sexual abuse, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.Minister of State for Home, Hansraj Ahir, said that the Ministry of Women and Child Development had conducted a study on Child Abuse in 2007, covering 13 states and more than 13,000 children.The study revealed that that more than 53% of children interviewed reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse and 21.90% child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76% other forms of sexual abuse, he said in written reply to a question.Ahir said 50% abusers were persons known to the child and most children did not report the matter to anyone. Children on street, at work and in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault, he said. The 13 states where the survey was conducted were – Assam, Mizoram, Goa, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala.

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Kerala: Fishing boat capsizes, six children drown in backwaters

A country fishing craft carrying a group of children on a pleasure trip capsized, drowning six of them in Kadukuzhi backwaters near here in Malappuram district today, police said.Most of the children were relatives and neighbours and have come here for a vacation when the tragedy struck them at Changrakkulam this evening. A total of nine persons were onboard the small craft for a pleasure trip in the backwaters. Two children and the boat’s oarsman had been rescued by police and local people and hospitalised, Ponnani Circle Inspector Sunny Chacko told PTI.The bodies of four girls and two boys, aged between four and 18, had been recovered, police said. Malappuram District Collector Amit Meena and senior police officials visited the spot. The State Human Rights Commission has suo motu registered a case and ordered a probe into the incident. A commission press release said the District Collector and police chief had been asked to file a report within three weeks. Kerala Assembly speaker P Sreeramakrishnan, who represents the Ponnani constituency, in a statement condoled the death of the children and said the incident was very painful.

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Kerala Police arrests admin of Telegram group involved in child pornography

Kerala police has arrested an admin of Telegram group where posting pornographic videos involving children were shared. According to the Malappuram police, 25-year-old Sharaf Ali shared videos of child pornography, child sexual abuse and even child rapes on group named ‘poombatta’ on popular encrypted messaging app Telegram. The police started its investigation after receiving information from Cyberdome, cybercrime wing of the Kerala Police, news18.com reported. The group was closed last month after certain details were leaked online.The complaint was lodged by one Jaljith T, who had earlier busted Facebook groups of paedophiles. He said that he got to know about ‘poombata’ group in November through a friend and later joined it to see their activities. “There were nude photographs and videos of children, videos of child rape. In the group everyone had to participate by sending such photos or videos. There were also discussions as to how to groom a child, how to abuse them and how it’s best to abuse children below 3 years of age,” Jaljith said.Accused Ali, an aspiring accountant from Kozhikode, had four such groups on Telegram with almost 5,000 followers where users could share videos. Besides Ali, Police have identified 6 other people who will be arrested soon, police said.

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Declare cyclone Ockhi a national calamity, probe mismanagement: MPs in Lok Sabha

The Congress on Friday said the Centre deployed only three National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams in Tamil Nadu and Kerala while seven teams were posted in Gujarat where there was no loss due to Cyclone Ockhi. Participating in the discussion on the disaster in the Lok Sabha, Congress members in the Lok Sabha demanded that the devastation caused by Ockhi should be declared a national calamity.Congress and Left members, especially from Kerala which bore the brunt, sought a probe into the alleged mismanagement, lack of coordination and other aspects of the disaster while also narrating the ordeal of death and destruction they had witnessed when the cyclone had hit the state.Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in his response said the Centre sent early warning to the state governments and that 18 ships of Indian Navy and Coast Guard are still looking for 275 people who are still missing at sea. Also readCyclone Ockhi: Centre to provide Rs 325 crore financial assistance to affected areas after PM Modi visit “Initial figure of missing persons was 433, now after return of some the number of missing remains 275. Even today, which is the 22nd day, 18 ships of Navy and Coast Guard are conducting search operations, Singh told the Lok Sabha. He also announced that the Centre is piloting some low-frequency transponders for fishermen who go into the deep sea.Also readCyclone Ockhi: 39 dead in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, 167 fishermen missingInitiating a discussion on natural calamities in various parts of the country, especially due to cyclone Ockhi in South India, Congress leader K C Venugopal sought putting in place a “functional” monitoring system and efforts to bring back hundreds of people who are still missing after cyclone Ockhi.The cyclone, which had hit coastal states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu on November 30, claimed several lives and caused widespread damage. A large number of fishermen are still missing.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Kerala govt says received IMD weather alert on Nov 30, Alphons says it came two days earlierHe sought to know the steps taken by the Centre so far and wondered whether it was “insensitive” on the issue. “Why is there a delay sending a central team” to Kerala, he asked.Venugopal, who represents Alappuzha constituency in Kerala, also urged the government to come out with a timely and comprehensive relief package for Kerala, where more than 75 people have been killed and hundreds of fishermen are missing in the wake of Ockhi.Stressing the need for strong coordination to bringing them back, he said there have been lapses on part of the authorities with regard to dealing with Ockhi and its aftermath. “We cannot accuse anybody for natural calamities but we could have taken precautions if we had early warnings,” he said, claiming that some officers have committed mistakes.Highlighting the plight of fishermen, he called for a “well functioning monitoring system” and emphasised the need for having a “specific alarm system” saying the people were alerted late about the cyclone.”This tragedy is an eye opener… it is time to think about the lives of fishermen,” he said, adding there has also been impact on the economy as they go into deep sea for many days together and at times are not even assured of income.Shashi Tharoor of the Congress, who represents Thiruvananthapuram constituency which was the most affected by the cyclone, said there was no early warning signal available to the state government, even when the radars to provide advance warnings were located in Kerala (Thumba) itself.He demanded immediate investigation into the lapses for gaps leading to loss of lives and properties.Since this is a “horrendous human tragedy”, Tharoor said the government should be sensitive in compensating states hit by this. Kerala Government has submitted Rs 7,348 crore compensation demand while Tamil Nadu about Rs 9,000 crore.”It is not compensation, we need some structural steps to be taken to mitigate loss” due to national calamity of such a magnitude, he said.P R Sundaram (AIADMK) asked the Centre to declare Ockhi a natural disaster, a demand shared by several members in the House. He also sought a naval base in Kanyakumari to help people more effectively in future cases of natural calamities.Nominated member Richard Hay claimed that the tragic aftermath of Ockhi could have been averted if the Kerala government had taken measured to warn fishermen in advance.When he claimed that the Centre had provided advance warning and relief later, CPI(M) members protested saying he was not aware of the ground realities.Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar intervened to defend Hay, saying there was a feeling that India Meteorological Department had provided adequate advance to the state but fishermen were not warned.B Mahtab (BJD) said natural calamities were affecting his home state of Odisha frequently and asked the Centre to step up its assistance measures. He also demanded that pest attack on crops be declared a calamity.Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena) said the government should focus on preventive measures and expressed concern over the impact of climate change.P Karunakaran (CPI-M) said the Centre should give Kerala a package of Rs 7348 crore and declare cyclone Ockhi a national calamity, a demand supported by N K Premchandramn (RSP) and Jose K Mani (KCP).Asking government to immediately decide on compensation, Saugata Roy (TMC) said there should be no delay. Government should also provide data on the fisherman killed and missing due to the calamity, he demanded.A P Jithender Reddy (TRS) raised the issue of vacancy of the top post in National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and said the post of the chairman has been lying vacant for 3 years and asked the government to fill it up urgently.R M Naidu (TDP) demanded sufficient compensation to be provided without delay, saying if support does not come at right time, it is like justice delayed justice denied. Claim settlement process should be simplified , he added.Md Faizal (NCP) also demanded shelters to be established for the affected people.(With PTI inputs)

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The Indian teenagers who were expelled from school for hugging

The teenagers were found to have engaged in an “indecent and immoral public display of affection”.

PM Narendra Modi visits Ockhi-affected Kanyakumari

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday met Cyclone Ockhi-affected fishermen and farmers in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district. He also chaired a a review meeting to take stock of the situation in the aftermath of the devastating natural disaster that left dead and several missing.After visiting cyclone-hit Lakshadweep in the morning, Modi reached Kanyakumari by an IAF helicopter from Thiruvananthapuram. Here, he was received by Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister Edappadi K.Palaniswami, his Deputy O Panneerselvam and other senior officials.After the state officials made a presentation on the impact of the cyclone on the district, Modi interacted with around 25 fishermen representatives from eight coastal villages of Kanyakumari district and six parish priests, who also handed him a memorandum with 12 demands. They included widening the search operation for missing fishermen in the deep sea, satellite phones for fishermen, establishment of a naval base with helipad in the district and reservation for fishermen youth in the coast guard and Navy. Fr Andrews Cosmos, the vicar of Thoothoor Forane parish, who participated in the interaction with the PM and said that Modi gave a patient ear to the affected fishermen.However, according to some of the victims, the Prime Minister did not give any concrete assurance and simply said: “I will look into it”. When one Rebisha of Chinnathurai fishing village broke down into tears, talking of the loss of four men in her family – father, brother and two brother-in-laws — Mr Modi assured her that he would look into it.Twenty days after the cyclone hit the coastal district, as many as 350 fishermen are still missing with the families hoping that they would return to the shore before the Christmas if they are alive.Modi’s visit has come days after Congress president Rahul Gandhi visited cyclone-hit Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep. After the meeting, Palanisami who had presented two separate memorandums, said that he has asked the Centre to declare Cyclone Ockhi as a national disaster and sought a Rs 9,300 crore relief package.”We have requested the Prime Minister to set up a permanent Coast Guard station along with a helipad in Kanyakumari district. We also demanded setting up of a fishing harbour with cold storage facilities and a communication centre to transmit messages of weather warning to the fishermen,” he said.HC STEPS INThe Madras High Court directed the Centre and TN government to inform it about the fate of 551 fishermen from Kanyakumari reported missing. Justices R Subbiah and A D Jagadish Chandra ordered the two governments to submit their replies by December 22. Petitioner Anto Lenin submitted that thousands of fishermen had ventured into the sea on November 29-30 from Kanyakumari district when the cyclone hit southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala coast.

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Kerala: RSS worker critically injured after attack by unidentified men

In another case of violence, a RSS worker was critically injured in Kannur district of Kerala. He was attacked by unidentified men on Tuesday evening. The worker, identified as Praveen has been rushed to the hospital and is currently in a critical condition. The attack took place in Kathiroor in Kannur district. According to reports, Praveen was travelling by motorcycle, when he was attacked. He has suffered head injury, and also wounds on his left hand and right eye. He is currently undergoing treatment in Kozhikode medical college hospital. Kannur has been the hotbed of political clashes in the state, which has seen frequent altercations between the ruling CPI(M) cadres and RSS workers. Leaders of both BJP and Left have expressed concerns in the past but the cycle of violent clashes have continued unabated.

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Cyclone Ockhi effect: PM visits affected areas in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday was received by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapadi K Palanisamy and Governor Banwarilal Purohit following his review meeting in Lakshadweep to take stock of the situation in the aftermath of Cyclone Ockhi.”I am here to assure you that India stands shoulder to shoulder with all those affected by Cyclone Ockhi. We will leave no stone unturned in the rescue and relief operations. Centre is providing all possible assistance. Navy and Coast Guard are monitoring the situation. Some of our people are stranded in foreign nations. The MEA and various embassies are working to bring them back. Some people also got stranded on parts of India’s western coast. We have rescued many of them. Due to Cyclone Ockhi, our farmers, fishermen and villages have been affected. When the cyclone struck, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had visited affected areas and taken stock of the situation,” the PM said.The deadly cyclone recently hit the coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, leaving many people dead and several missing.Also readCyclone Ockhi | PM Modi holds meeting with officials in LakshadweepThe review meeting was attended by several officials of the state and the top representatives of various agencies involved in the relief and rescue work.Prime Minister Modi also met families of victims affected by Cyclone Ockhi in Lakshadweep’s Kavaratti. He was greeted by school students on his arrival. He also met few fishermen and farmers too.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Rahul Gandhi writes to PM Modi, seeks special package for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and LakshadweepEarlier in the day, Prime Minister Modi flew from Lakshadweep to Thiruvananthapuram and met Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who received him at the airport.Prime Minister Modi had arrived yesterday in Mangaluru to review the operations.”Leaving for Mangaluru, Karnataka. Tomorrow, I will visit Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala and extensively review the situation that has arisen due to #CycloneOckhi. I will meet cyclone victims, fishermen, farmers, officials and public representatives,” the prime minister tweeted last night.The cyclone left a trail of destruction in southern and western India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, killing 115 people and leaving over 100 missing.

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PM Modi to make whirlwind tour of Ockhi affected states on Tuesday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi would visit Lakshadweep,Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Tuesday to assess the damage caused by cyclone Ockhi, which left a trail of destruction in the two states and the Union Territory.The Prime Minister, on a one-day visit, would review the situation arising in the aftermath of the cyclone and status of relief operations at Kavaratti, Kanyakumari and Thiruvananthapuram, official sources said. Modi would fly to Agatti from Mangaluru at around 7.35 AM and leave for Kavratti. After nearly an hour’s programme, he would return to Agatti and fly to Thiruvananthapuram, official sources in Lakshadweep said. On reaching the state capital at around 1.50 PM, he would take a helicopter to Kanyakumari, where he will meet officials and assess the damage caused by the cyclone.The Prime Minister would also get a first hand report from the some of the affected fishermen, district officials at Kanyakumari told PTI. Modi would return to Thiruvananthapuram and visit Poonthura, a nearby fishing village from where some of the deceased fishermen hailed. The Prime Minister would then meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and some of his cabinet colleagues, including revenue minister E Chandrasekharan and Fisheries minister J Mercykutty at the Raj Bhavan, according to sources in the Chief Minister’s office.Chief Secretary K M Abraham would also give a presentation on the calamity and the devastation caused in coastal regions of the state capital, including Poonthura, Vizhinjam, Pozhiyur and Adimalithura. After the meeting,the Prime Minister will leave for Delhi.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Rahul Gandhi writes to PM Modi, seeks special package for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and LakshadweepThe Kerala Chief Minister had earlier met Union Home minister Rajnath Singh and sought central assistance of Rs 1,843 crore. The state also wanted the Centre to declare the devastation caused by the cyclone as a national disaster. According to government estimates, 70 persons have so far lost their lives in Kerala in the cyclone and around 105 persons are still missing.Meanwhile,search operations are continuing for the missing fishermen with the state government seeking support of local boat owners. The government has decided to extend the search operations up to Goan shores. The cyclone that hit the state on November 29-30 had also caused large-scale damage to crops and property.

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Cyclone Ockhi: Rahul Gandhi writes to PM Modi, seeks special package for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep

Newly-elected Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare a comprehensive special financial package for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep to undertake rehabilitation and provide financial assistance to families of fishermen who lost their lives in Cyclone Ockhi late last month. In a letter to the Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi also asked for putting in place adequate measures for strengthening the weather update system and advance cyclone warning communication mechanism in the coastal areas. The opposition leader also pointed out the need to construct seawalls and groynes in the vulnerable sea coasts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.Rahul also asked PM Modi to visit the affected regions. Mr Gandhi had visited some places hit by the Cyclone Ochki in Kerala and Tamil Nadu on December 14.The cyclone hit the coast of Kerala and neighbouring Tamil Nadu on November 30, causing widespread damage besides leaving several fishermen stranded and missing. Cyclone Okchi has claimed over 65 lives, most of them fishermen.

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In Kerala, Rahul Gandhi nudges Left to join ‘fight against BJP’

Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi today asked the CPI(M) to make its stand clear on its fight against BJP and “fascist forces” in the country.It is very important that the left party, which rules Kerala, makes its position clear on this at the national level, Gandhi said. The Congress leader’s statement assumes significance in the wake of reports that the recent CPI(M) politburo meeting had failed to reach a consensus on whether it should have a political understanding with the Congress and other secular parties against the BJP. “I want to ask my friends in CPI(M) whether they actually want to fight the fascist forces in the country,” Gandhi said.”It is very important that that they make their position clear at the national level…Why because…not standing against BJP means supporting BJP,” he said. He also asked whether they accept the fact that the biggest challenge to the county is from “the fascist ideas spread by BJP.” Gandhi was addressing congress workers here at the valedictory of the one-month-long “Padayorukkam” rally led by state opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.The rally was taken out to highlight the “anti-people” policies of the BJP-led central government and the LDF-led state government.Also readAs Gujarat campaign progressed, we saw complete bankruptcy in BJP: Rahul Gandhi in Kerala A two-day CPI(M) politburo meet recently discussed two notes one presented by CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury and the other by his predecessor Prakash Karat suggesting the political approach it should follow in the coming three years. According to CPI(M) sources, since the party had not been able to reach any consensus, the draft would be placed before the central committee.

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Murder of Bengal workers: Electrician found dead in Kerala, Mamata Banerjee to address meeting in Bankura

After the murder of Md Afrazul Khan, the labourer from Malda district of Bengal, in Rajasthan, another death of a worker from Bengal has surfaced. This time, 25-year-old Hemanta Roy, hailing from Bankura district was found with his throat slit, at Alappuzha district of Kerala on December 10.Incidentally, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is at Bankura and would be addressing a public meeting on Wednesday. She is likely to speak about the death. She had, on Tuesday, said that workers from Bengal who were working outside the state and were facing insecurity, could return to their native land and they would be given work for 200 days a year or would be given Rs 50,000 to set up business unit.Family members of Roy had claimed that he had been murdered. Senior police officials of Alappuzha district, however, said it could be a case of suicide.”Prima facie investigation showed that it was a self-inflicted wound but we would be able to tell something concrete after the post-mortem report arrives,” S Surendran, district police chief of Alappuzha district told DNA over the phone on Tuesday evening.Also readRajasthan hacking: Bengal Congress accuses Mamata Banerjee of trying to reap political dividend His family members alleged Roy had been murdered. They said that Roy had talked to them on December 9 and had said he was planning to return. “How come he would commit suicide the day next and that too by slitting his own throat which itself is highly suspicious,” said one of his family members. Bankura district police had contacted their Kerala counterpart and were probing into the matter.It was found out that about two years ago, Roy had got married and has a six-month-old daughter. He was not getting enough work as an electrician in Bankura so he, along with some others of the adjoining district had left for Kerala about three months ago. Also readMamata Banerjee to labourers wishing to return: Will give 200 days’ workState BJP secretary Deboshree Chowdhury would lead a candlelight march in north Kolkata on Wednesday in solidarity with Roy’s death.

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Mamata Banerjee to labourers wishing to return: Will give 200 days’ work

Following the incident in Rajasthan, wherein Mohammad Afrazul Khan, a labourer hailing from the Malda district of West Bengal, was killed by a youth, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said labourers who had migrated to other states, if feeling insecure, could return to Bengal, where the government will give them work for 200 days in a year.The CM was speaking at a public meeting in the Kotshila area of the Purulia district.”People of Rajasthan, UP, and Bihar work in Bengal. They have made this place their motherland and we have welcomed them as well. But if a person from West Bengal went to work in Rajasthan, why was he murdered? If these people want to return to Bengal, they can get their names enrolled at the respective district magistrate’s office. We will ensure that they get 200 days’ work in a year. The state can also provide for one-time financial assistance of Rs 50,000 to people like these, to set up their own business unit,” Mamata said.She added that in BJP-ruled states, such as Gujarat and Rajasthan, not only Muslims but Christians and Dalits also were facing attacks, but it didn’t happen in Bengal, where all lived peacefully.Mamata claimed that Purulia, the district once dominated by Maoists, was a developed area at present, but the adjoining Jharkhand, which was also inhabited by tribals, failed to do so.”There is an abundance of natural mineral in Jharkhand but they could not make best use of it. The Had TMC been there, we would have reaped a golden harvest. In fact, the land of the tribal people was taken away forcefully, which we had protested against,” she said.Interestingly, another resident of Bankura district has reportedly been killed in Kerala. The youth, Hemanta Roy, had gone to Kerala to work as an electrician three months ago. His body with his throat slit was discovered on Sunday night. Talking to DNA over the phone, S Surendran, district police chief of Alappuzha district, Kerala, said Roy’s case looked like suicide. “Prima facie investigation showed that it was a self-inflicted wound but we would be able to tell something concrete after the post-mortem report arrives,” he said.

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Motor vehicle tax evasion: Actor Suresh Gopi files anticipatory bail plea

Malayalam actor and Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi today filed an anticipatory bail plea in the Kerala High Court with regard to a case of allegedly forging documents to get his two luxury vehicles registered in Puducherry to evade motor vehicle (MV) tax in Kerala.Police had registered an FIR against the actor on December 5, charging him with falsifying and fabricating documents by showing an address in the Union Territory of Puducherry and getting the vehicles registered there, causing revenue loss to the Kerala government.The FIR is pending before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Thiruvananthapuram.Also readBJP MP Suresh Gopi booked for forging documents to evade Motor Vehicle TaxIn his anticipatory bail plea, Gopi said the allegations prima facie were false.He said that he had chosen to register the two vehicles at Puducherry, where he has tenanted a premise since 2009.The BJP MP said he owns agricultural land around Puducherry, which was being looked after by family members, including his brothers.He said he has a house at Bengaluru and his brothers have residences at Coimbatore and Tuticorin, so the vehicles were frequently used to ply within these states.Gopi said the charges had caused great insult and annoyance to him, and this would be further eroded and worsened if he was arrested.He said he was prepared to fully cooperate with the investigation team and at any time they wished to interrogate him.Police have said the actor-turned-politician used a fake residential address to register his luxury vehicles in the Union territory to evade the 20 per cent tax in Kerala on luxury cars costing Rs 20 lakh and above.

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All you need to know about Jisha rape and murder case

Days before Kerala was to vote for a new government in 2016, a 30-year-old Dalit law student was found murdered at her home. Later, it was revealed that she was sexually assaulted before being brutally murdered on April 28 in Perumbavoor. As the incident took place just 18 days before the voting for the Assembly elections (voting took place on May 16), it took a political colour as Opposition demanded quick arrest of those behind the crime. However, the first arrest was made only a month after the incident when the Kerala Police, under the new LDF government of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, nabbed a a migrant worker from Assam. Also readJisha rape-murder case: Kerala court convicts migrant labourer, to pronounce quantum of sentence tomorrowHere is all you need to know about the rape and murder of the law student:1- Jisha, a 30-year-old law student from Perumbavoor, was found dead at her home on April 28, 2016.Also readVoice demanding justice for Jisha grows stronger in city2- She was a student at the Government Law College, Ernakulam.3- The woman, who hailed from a poor family, was brutally assaulted using sharp-edged weapons before being murdered at her house.Also readOutrage in Hisar as 5-yr-old Dalit raped, brutalised with stick, killed4- The body was found in mutilated condition. Forensics concluded that the body injuries showed violence and possible torture.5- The accused, Mohammed Ameerul Islam, fled Perumbavoor soon after committing the crime and was arrested from Kancheepuram in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, 50 days after the gruesome incident.6- The UDF government led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy came under severe attack from the Opposition during the elections. 7- The Congress-led UDF regime was attacked for ‘tardy’ progress in the probe and ‘failure’ to nab culprits.8- LDF government, after assuming power on May 25 last year, changed the investigation team and entrusted the probe to senior woman IPS officer ADGP B Sandhya in its first cabinet meeting itself.9- Finger prints of over 5,000 people were examined by the SIT personnel who went through over 20 lakh telephonic conversations before reaching the accused.10- A blood stained footwear found from a canal near the victim’s house was one of the key evidence in identifying the culprit.

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The courts are questioning a Hindu woman’s decision to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man.

Cyclone Ockhi: Pope Francis enquires about Kerala’s fishermen community

Pope Francis has enquired about the hardships and sufferings caused to Kerala’s fishermen community in the Ockhi cyclone that ravaged the coastal belt on November 30, the Archbishop of the Latin Catholic Church said here today.Archbishop Soosai Pakiyam said he received a phone call last Saturday from the Vatican stating that the Pope wanted to know the details of the cyclone that hit the state’s coast and a brief to broadcast it through the Vatican radio.”They also recorded a five minute long message through telephone,” the Archbishop said at a march of fishermen, organised by the Latin Catholic Church here.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Kerala govt intensifies search to find 92 missing fishermenIt was under these circumstances, Pope Francis on Sunday remembered and prayed for the victims of the cyclone, he said.During his speech, the Archbishop said it was a grave negligence on the part of authorities, whoever they may be, not to take seriously information passed by central agencies on the impending cyclone and issue proper warning about it.Also readCyclone Ockhi: 39 dead in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, 167 fishermen missing”I strongly condemn this apathy towards the fishermen community,” the Archbishop said.”Knowingly or unknowingly lapse had occurred. Loss of life and damage could have been less if timely action had been taken,” he added.Also readThe blame game behind the death toll of cyclone OckhiThe Archbishop wanted the state government to review the relief package announced by it, taking the views of the Church also.The Centre and state governments should come out with a long-term comprehensive development scheme for the coastal people, he said.The fishermen are demanding a coordinated search operation to trace missing fishermen and a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Ockhi-hit areas.

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The lost fishermen of India’s Cyclone Ockhi

Nearly 100 are still missing a week after the powerful storm struck India’s southern coast.

Cyclone Ockhi: 39 dead in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, 167 fishermen missing

As many as 39 people have perished and 167 fishermen were still missing after cyclone Ockhi hit Tamil Nadu and Kerala coasts while 809 others were swept away to Maharashtra, the Union Home Ministry said today.Joint Secretary in the ministry Sanjeev Kumar Jindal also said the cyclone is slowing down and would have no impact in Gujarat, where the first of the two-phased assembly elections is due four days later.”As of now, 10 people lost their lives in Tamil Nadu and 29 others in Kerala. Even though the exact number of missing persons were not known, as per available information, whereabouts of 74 fishermen in Tamil Nadu and 93 fishermen in Kerala is not known yet,” he told reporters here.A total of 556 fishermen were also rescued by relief and rescue teams from seas.The state governments are verifying with the affected villages to find the exact number of missing fishermen.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Schools in Mumbai, other parts of Maharashtra to remain open on Wednesday Altogether 809 fishermen with their boats from Tamil Nadu and Kerala were swept away and reached Maharashtra coast where they were provided food and shelter.While 33 tourists, both domestic and foreign, were safe in Lakshadweep, 250 fishermen could also reach safely in the islands from the high seas after being hit by the cyclone.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Search intensified to find 92 missing fishermenJindal said two merchant ships with eight sailors each were rescued and brought to Lakshadweep by Navy and Coast guard teams.Asked whether the cyclone would affect the election process in Gujarat, Jindal said there was no such possibilities as it has already slowed down.Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) today asked fishermen in both eastern and western coasts not to venture out in the sea for the next three days as heavy rainfall is expected in many areas due to cyclone Ockhi.Asking people not to panic in case of a cyclone alert, the NDMA said in an advisory that fishermen along and off Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu coasts should not venture into the sea from December 6 to 8 while fishermen along and off Andaman and Nicobar Islands are advised not to venture into sea till tomorrow.Fishermen living along and off South Gujarat and North Maharashtra coasts have been advised not to venture into the sea till tomorrow morning.The severe cyclonic storm Ockhi will move over east- central Arabian sea and move further north-northeastwards with a speed of 21 kmph and lay centred over east-central Arabian sea at latitude 17.5 N and Longitude 70.4 E, about 480 km southwest of Surat and 300 km west-southwest of Mumbai.The NDMA said light to moderate rainfall is expected at most places in Maharashtra with isolated heavy rainfall also likely over north Konkan, Palghar, Thane, Raigarh, Greater Mumbai, Dhule, Nandurbar, Nashik, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar and Pune districts.It is very likely that the cyclone will to continue to move north-northeastwards, weaken gradually and cross south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a deep depression by tonight.Minor damage to loose unsecured structures and minor damage to banana trees, agriculture near coast due to salt spray is expected. Damage to ripe paddy crops and minor damage to ‘kutcha’ embankments are expected.The NDMA predicted formation of a depression over southeast Bay of Bengal during the next few hours and it will further intensify into a deep depression during subsequent two days.The well marked low pressure area over southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining south Andaman sea persists.It is very likely to move west-northwestwards towards north Tamil Nadu, south Andhra Pradesh coasts during next three days.The NDMA said people when asked to evacuate, should move to a designate cyclone shelter with safety kit and store dry food and water in abundance, keep torch and hurricane lantern/emergency light handy and keep listening to battery operated radio for latest information.
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Cyclone Ockhi: Search intensified to find 92 missing fishermen

The Kerala government today said intensified search and rescue operations are on to trace the 92 fishermen missing in high seas after Cyclone Ockhi hit the state’s coast on November 29.’Operation Synergy,’ a joint rescue mission by the Navy, the Air Force, Coast Guard and state fisheries department had so far rescued 252 fishermen stranded in the seas in the aftermath of the cyclone.Besides this, several fishermen had reached ports and harbours in Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Lakshdweep, the State Minister for Fisheries Mercykutty told PTI here.With this, more than 1,000 fishermen had reached shores safely, she said.On the cyclone-related deaths, the Minister said of the 25 deaths reported so far, 21 were fishermen.Also readCyclone Ockhi: 28 boats carrying 321 fishermen land safely at Ratnagiri A total of 292 fishermen had gone for fishing on November 29 from the Thiruvananthapuram coastal region and out of that 200 persons have already been rescued, she noted.”Officially 92 fishermen are still missing…Rescue work is going with more intensity and by widening the area for search,” she said adding, however, local people have put the number of missing persons as more than 100.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Don’t panic in case of alert, evacuate when asked, advises NDMAMercykutty said the state government has also decided to open Central Control Rooms in Kochi also along with the one functioning here to provide rescue mission-related information.According to Government Medical College sources here, as many as 41 fishermen, who were rescued, are now undergoing treatment there till this morning.Yesterday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had visited cyclone-hit areas here and assured the state all help.She had also asserted that rescue operations would continue till every missing fishermen was brought back safely.
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Cyclone Ockhi: Death toll in Kerala rises to 25, Centre assures all help

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today visited cyclone-hit Kerala and assured the state of all help while asserting that rescue operations would continue till every missing fishermen was brought back safely.A total of 20 fishermen from the state were rescued by Navy today while the toll in rain-related incidents in the aftermath of ‘Ochki’ cyclone was officially put at 25.Sitharaman gave the assurance at a meeting with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here after visiting some areas hit by the natural calamity in the district, a CMO release said.Her meeting came even as Naval ships, helicopters, Coast Guard vessels and Air Force planes continued to be engaged in the rescue and relief operations to track down the 100 odd fishermen, reported missing after the cyclone tore into the state’s south coast on November 30.The toll in the rain-related incidents was put at 25 by the state government. Of this, twelve bodies were yet to be identified. Eleven of the deceased were from Thiruvanathapuram district while the other belonged to Kollam, officials said.A Navy ship located a fishing boat with nine crew members, missing from Kochi for the last 15 days, off Lakshadweep coast while ll fishermen, who put out to sea from here, were brought back to the shore at Kochi, they said.During the meeting with Sitharaman, Vijayan requested for generous help by the Centre for relief works considering the gravity of the situation if there was any technical hurdle to declare ‘Ockhi’ cyclone as a national disaster.Also readAfter wreaking havoc in Kerala, TN, Ockhi puts Maha, Guj on alertHe also sought financial assistance for implementing long-term rehabilitation schemes for the affected fishermen.The Defence Minister wanted the state to prepare a detailed memorandum and send it to the Centre, the CMO release said.Also readCyclone Ockhi: 28 boats carrying 321 fishermen land safely at Ratnagiri Earlier, talking to reporters, Sitharaman said “Search and rescue operations will continue..There will not be any dilution of operations.” “We want to make sure that each and every fishermen who had gone from Kerala comes back safely,” she said.She visited Vizhinjam and Poonthura fishing hamlets, from where most of the fishermen have been reported missing.”They (fishing community) are in deep distress…I can see it,” she said.Sitharaman said fishermen who had gone much before the cyclone warning, probably 15 days ago, had been spotted in the sea and given food and water.”So I will not lose hope even for a minute. If boats that had gone 15 days ago had come back with fishermen alive, we will make every attempt to bring everybody back,” she said.The fishermen’s demand for including some of their men in the rescue team had been accepted and already 11 of them have joined the Navy boats and helicopters engaged in the operations, she added.”This is the time to keep my focus on rescue operations,” she said replying to a question.The Minister addressed the fishermen both at Vizhinjam and Poonthura, assuring them that there would be no laxity in the search operations.It was an emotionally charged atmosphere at the two fishing villages as women wailing and weeping for the safe return of their husbands and brothers came together to hear the minister, while the men folk raised slogans.”I speak with folded hands…Please listen to me peacefully…The warning was given on November 29…We started search operations from November 30…The Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force began their work. Many people were saved,” she said.”Many people have come back to their families…We have not stopped the search operations,” she said, adding war ships were also being engaged in the mission.So much efforts, not even witnessed when the tsunami had hit the Indian coast, were being taken now, the minister, who arrived here from Kanyakumari this morning, said.State Fisheries minister, Mercykutty and Devaswom minister, Kadakampally Surendran accompanied Sitharaman.However, the local fishermen alleged that there was lack of coordination in rescue operations and staged protests in some places.Pastor of a local church at Vizhinjam said the search operations should continue intensively and the compensation should be disbursed by state and central governments in a time-bound manner.In a tweet yesterday, Sitharaman had said nearly 390 fishermen from the state had been rescued by the Navy, the Air Force, Coast Guard and merchant vessels.
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Kerala ‘Love Jihad’ case: Before marriage, Hadiya’s husband was in touch with ISIS men, says NIA

A week after the Supreme Court freed Hadiya, the Kerala woman at the centre of alleged ‘love jihad’ case from her parents custody, an NIA report has said that her husband was in touch with the ISIS before their marriage.According to a report by the Times of India, the National Investigation Agency’s probe said that Shafin Jahan, Hadiya’s husband, was in touch with Manseed and P Safvan from ISIS via Facebook.The men are key accused in the Omar-al-Hindi case. The NIA said that the Facebook group was involved in activities of the Popular Front of India’s political arm SDPI.Also readHadiya case | Brinda Karat slams NIA for interrogating couples in inter-community marriagesThe probe agency said that it was Manseed and his associate Muneer who brought Shafin and Hadiya together. The finding is contrary to what has been claimed by both Hadiya and her husband that they came together via the matrimonial website ‘waytonikah.com’.Last week on November 27, the Supreme Court had freed Hadiya from her parents’ custody and directed her to continue her education in a Coimtore college.Also readHadiya says she wants meeting with ‘husband’, more ‘freedom’Earlier on October 3, during a hearing, the Supreme Court had questioned about role of a father in his adult daughter’s life. The top court, in fact, had questioned how the Kerala High Court annulled the marriage of Hadiya and Shafeen Jahan under Article 226.Shafin Jahan married Akhila Ashokan in December last year after she converted to Islam and rechristened herself as Hadiya.Also readLove Jihad case: Can’t have terrorist in the family, says Hadiya’s fatherHer father moved the Kerala High Court and claimed his daughter was indoctrinated and forcibly converted. He, in fact, said that his daughter would be be sent to Afghanistan or Syria.The High Court annulled the marriage. But Jahan approached the Supreme Court against the annulment.Earlier in August, the NIA began investigation into the case following the top court’s orders.In compliance with the orders of the apex court, the case was re-registered by the NIA and an investigation was taken up.The Kerala Government had said that if the apex court wants an NIA probe, it has no objections. However, later ina u-turn, the state government said that the policer probe is sufficient and that there’s no requirement of an NIA probe.
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After wreaking havoc in Kerala, TN, Ockhi puts Maha, Guj on alert

Even as rescue operations continue in full strength in southern states post the cyclonic storm ‘Ockhi’, India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a very severe cyclonic warning to Gujarat and Maharashtra.After wreaking havoc in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep, the cyclone has weakened in those states, and its intensity is further expected to reduce from very severe to severe on Monday. The cyclone is on a north-western cause, drifting towards coastlines of Gujarat and Maharashtra at a speed of 17 kilometres per hour.A total of 357 fishermen, including 71 from Tamil Nadu, stranded in sea due to Cyclone Ockhi, were rescued on Sunday morning, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.In addition to the fishermen from Tamil Nadu, 248 from Kerala and 38 from Lakshadweep Islands, were rescued by Airforce, Navy and Coast Guard personnel, she said in a tweet.”An update on the search and rescue efforts being done by the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force to save the lives of fishermen affected by #CycloneOckhi : 357 fishermen have been saved as of 10 am today,” she said in her official Twitter handle.Sitharaman arrived in Kanyakumari on Sunday evening from Thiruvananthapuram and is scheduled to stay there till Monday.Posting a fact-sheet, Sitharaman said since November 30, the Coast Guard (CG) deployed two ships, an equal number of fixed wing aircraft and one helicopter for search and rescue of Tamil Nadu fishermen.Similarly, the Coast Guard deployed seven ships in Kerala and one in Lakshadweep islands.The Navy deployed six ships, two fixed wing aircraft and two helicopters in Kerala while the Air Force deployed one aircraft and two helicopters for Tamil Nadu and Kerala.”As the intensity of the cyclone is likely to reduce, there are less chances of flooding-like situation in Gujarat. Light to moderate showers are expected along coastlines of the state. A warning has been issued for fishermen in the state,” said an official at IMD, Ahmedabad.Lakshadweep islands has suffered a loss of over Rs 500 crore, Lakshadweep MP Mohammad Faizal said on Sunday, seeking Centre’s assistance to restore normal life in the islands isolated by the storm.Ockhi-hit 321 fishermen reach Maha coast: FadnavisMaharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said 28 more boats, carrying 321 fishermen, which were caught in rough seas due to Cyclone Ockhi, have safely reached Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri coast on Sunday.Of these, 23 are from Tamil Nadu, three from Kerala and two from Karnataka, he said.”Due to #CycloneOckhi 28 more boats with 321 fishermen landed at Ratnagiri today,” Fadnavis tweeted.The boats are now docked at Mirya Bunder, Ratnagiri. All fishermen are safe and officials are looking after them with utmost care, the chief minister said.Fadnavis had on Saturday tweeted that in all, 68 fishing boats, out of which 66 were from Kerala and two from Tamil Nadu, had reached Sindhudurg coast with 952 fishermen on- board.”I have given orders to the Maharashtra Maritime Board and the district collector, to make all arrangements for the stranded fishermen,” he had said.”Local authorities are already with them and taking care of all arrangements to make everyone feel at home,” the chief minister had said.Thanking Fadnavis for the assistance, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had tweeted, “Thanks Hon.CM @Dev_Fadnavis for understanding the sense of urgency in this matter of fishermen reaching Devgad minor port, Maharashtra.”Low pressure to become depressionA fresh spell of rainfall is expected to lash Tamil Nadu as the well-marked low pressure area over the south Andaman Sea is likely to turn into a depression in the next 24 hours and a deep depression in the subsequent 48 hours, the Met office said on Sunday.Hovering over the north Sumatra coast and the adjoining south Andaman Sea, the low pressure area now lies over southeast Bay of Bengal and south Andaman Sea.
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Cyclone Ockhi: 28 boats carrying 321 fishermen land safely at Ratnagiri

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has informed on Twitter that 28 boats along with 321 fishermen have been brought safely to Ratnagiri on Sunday.Chief Minister Fadnavis tweeted that out of 28 boats rescued safely on Sunday, 23 are from Tamil Nadu, 3 from Kerala and 2 from Karnataka. Fadnavis has informed that they are now docked at Mirya Bunder in Ratnagiri and they are being looked after by officials.As the operations to rescue stranded fishermen affected by very severe Cyclone Ockhi entered its third day, Indian Coast Guard has intensified its deployment of ships and aircraft off Kerala Coast as well as Lakhadweep Islands. According to official press release 11 ships, 3 dornier aircraft and 03 helicopters are undertaking extensive search operations in the affected area. In the wee hours of Sunday, Indian Coast Guard ship Shoor reached a remote island Suhelipar in Lakshadweep to rescue five fishermen from a stranded boat “FB Antony”. The island was almost on the path of Cyclone and bore maximum brunt of the storm. Though the island is uninhabited, the fishing boat has taken shelter from raging winds and high waves and escape the impact. Coast Guard ship Shoor reached the location with maximum speed this morning and has recovered all the fishermen onboard. The fishermen are being given required medical aid and food- water to recuperate. Also readEven as Cyclone Ockhi weakens, Kerala CM calls on Centre to declare it ‘national calamity’Coast Guard ship Shoor has now sailed for last known position of another boat which is drifting very near to the predicted path of the cyclone in Lakshadweep islands. Meanwhile, Coast Guard ship Amartya operating near Beypore in Kerala has also rescued 22 fishermen from boat Thatwamasi about 22 Nm (approx 40 Kms) from the coastline. Another Coast Guard ship Abhinav, also operating near Beypore, has rescued five people from boat Joyal about 25 Nm from coast line. As per the last update received, Coast ship Abhinav, is proceeding to rescue of a fishing boat in distress in the same area.Coast Guard ship Samar, also sailing off Kerala coast has rescued 3 more fishermen from boat Salaithanne at location 62 Nm from Quilon coast.As time progresses, Coast Guard has enhanced its deployment so that all survivors from the cyclone can be rescued. An Offshore Patrol vessel carrying an integral helicopter has also been sailed from Mumbai to augment search operations in Lakshadweep. Further, efforts are also being made to recover fishermen who could not survive the onslaught of the storm. Coast Guard District Headquarters, at Kerala and Lakshadweep are maintaining close watch on the situation and reassessing deployment of ships as requirement arises.
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Cyclone Ockhi: Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam rules out declaring it as ‘national calamity’

The Centre today said Cyclone Ockhi, which wrecked havoc in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep, cannot be declared a national calamity as there is no such scheme, but assured all necessary assistance to tackle the situation.Speaking to reporters after attending a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the Secretariat here, Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam said the Centre has already given necessary relief funds to the state government. “We have received a memorandum from the state government requesting to declare Cyclone Ockhi as a national calamity. But, there is no such scheme for the Centre to do the same,” he said.Though the Union Tourism Minister earlier backed the Kerala government’s contention that they had not received any prior warning about the cyclone, he later clarified that the central agencies had given necessary alerts on November 28 and 29 itself. Kannanthanam, in the presence of Vijayan, earlier had stated that the state had received the cyclone alert only on November 30 and a clear prior warning had not been issued before that.Also readEven as Cyclone Ockhi weakens, Kerala CM calls on Centre to declare it ‘national calamity’The Union Minister later visited nearby Punthura, a coastal hamlet where fishermen are protesting alleging delay in rescue of their kin, who had ventured into sea days ago. He also said that 90 fishermen from the state were yet to be brought back to the shores.
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Even as Cyclone Ockhi weakens, Kerala CM calls on Centre to declare it ‘national calamity’

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has decided to ask the Centre to declare the Ockhi cyclone as a ‘national calamity’.Vijayan took to his Twitter handle on Saturday to inform about the same and further wrote that the chief secretary has been entrusted to prepare the memorandum in this regard.“KERALA govt has decided to ask the Union government to declare the Ockhi cyclone a national calamity. The Chief Secretary has been entrusted to prepare the memorandum in this regard. #CycloneOckhi (sic),” he tweeted.The Indian Coast Guard stated that the cyclone Ockhi, which has originated from Kanyakumari on November 29, has moved towards Lakshadweep islands and has intensified into ‘severe cyclonic storm’ with wind reaching up to speed of 60 to 70 km.”The cyclone has wrecked havoc on South Kerala with severe damage to coastal areas and has endangered lives of fishermen operating at sea,” the Coast Guard informed in a statement.Also readCyclone Ockhi: 531 fishermen rescued says Kerala CM; cyclone to move towards Mumbai in 48 hoursEarlier in the day, India Meteorological Department claimed that cyclone Ockhi would intensify in the next 36 hours and move Northwest in the next three to four days.Cyclone Ockhi has lashed the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Saturday with torrential rainfall and gusty winds.Also readCyclone Ockhi kills 14, many feared trapped at sea; PM Modi assures all help Seven people, five in Trivandrum and one each in Kollam and Kasaragod districts, have died till now.Meanwhile, the IMD said that the cyclone is likely to weaken from Sunday. “The very severe cyclonic storm Ockhi over Lakshadweep area and adjoining Southeast Arabian Sea further moved northwestwards with a speed of 15 kmph during past 6 hours and lay centred at 2330 hrs IST of December 2, 2017 over southeast Arabian Sea near Latitude 11.1’ N and Longitude 69.7’ E, about 330 km west of Amini Divi. The system is very likely to weaken gradually from today the December 3, 2017 morning,” said IMD.
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Cyclone Ockhi: Kerala fishermen back from brink of death

It is not the first time Kerala fishermen have faced a turbulent sea, but the sheer ferocity of Cyclone Ockhi has shaken them badly.Trapped in violent waters, with no food or water, desperate eyes searching for help in the middle of a turbulent sea—sum up the helplessness of the fishermen.Though many fishermen were brought ashore safely and admitted to hospitals, many are yet to recover from the shock of wrestling the lashing waves and seeing death face-to-face.Stephan, a fisherman hailing from nearby Poonthura, said he was terrified on seeing a rescue boat move away without seeing them and hearing their cries.”It was the first time we were experiencing such huge waves and a rough sea. Luckily, the rescue boat came back and saved us,” Stephan, who is recuperating at the Government Medical College Hospital here, said.Also readCyclone Ockhi: 531 fishermen rescued says Kerala CM; cyclone to move towards Mumbai in 48 hoursMost of the rescued fishermen had bruises all over their bodies and were seen shivering and begging for hot water and food when brought ashore.Titus, another fisherman hailing from Neendakara in Kollam district, said he had never seen such a violent sea even in movies.Also readCyclone Ockhi kills 14, many feared trapped at sea; PM Modi assures all help He said strong winds virtually threw them in the sea and that they somehow managed to hold on to the boat, till the rescue team arrived.His fellow fisherman Kennedy said their boat drifted aimlessly for around 100 km in the gusty winds.Meanwhile, anxious families of fishermen, who are yet to return, expressed their anguish and protested by holding roadblocks in various places here.The weeping women said they were waiting with prayers and tears for their beloved ones to return.
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Cyclone Ockhi kills 14, many feared trapped at sea; PM Modi assures all help

Cyclone Ockhi barrelled into the Lakshwadeep islands on Saturday after drenching the neighbouring states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, claiming so far around 14 lives with many fishermen still feared trapped at sea.Authorities including the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Coast Guard and Indian Navy have rescued about 223 fishermen and evacuated thousands of people from cyclone hit areas, officials said, as they continued their operations on Saturday.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, assuring him of support operations including necessary funds, according to local media.Ockhi is expected to travel north towards Mumbai and Gujarat in the next 48 hours, according to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) Director S. Sudevan in Trivandrum, though it is likely to lose intensity.”The intensity of the wind may come down and the cyclone could change into depression,” Sudevan said adding fishermen have been warned not go to the sea for the next few days as waves are likely to be 3-5 metres (12-15 feet) high.
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Cyclone Ockhi: More than 80 fishermen go missing; 8 dead in Tamil Nadu, Kerala

At least 80 fishermen and 50 boats have gone missing after cyclone Ockhi lashed the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala with torrential rainfall and gusty winds.The cyclone has so far claimed the lives of four people in Kerala.On Thursday, a man in an autorickshaw died in Kollam after a tree fell on the three-wheeler, two others were electrocuted in Trivandrum and a woman died after a tree fell on her house in Vizhinjam due to the cyclone. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has already issued an alert of heavy to very heavy rainfall in both the states.The depression in Southwest Bay of Bengal had snowballed into the cyclonic storm- Ockhi.Schools in seven districts of Tamil Nadu, including Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Virudhunagar remained closed.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Torrential rains in Tamil Nadu,Kerala; eight dead The deadly storm has killed seven people in neighbouring Sri Lanka and affected the lives of nearly 20,000 people.
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Maharashtra has max assault on women

As data released by the National Crime Records Bureau reveals, Maharashtra has a daunting task ahead of it to curb crimes against women and children.The state topped the country in cases of assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty, as 11,396 cases were registered in 2016; ranking second in kidnapping and abduction of women, with 6,170 cases; and third in cases of rape, with 4,189 cases.Among 19 metropolitan cities, which have a population of over 20 lakh, Mumbai accounted for 12.3 percent of the cases of crimes against women in 2016, with 5,128 of the total of 41,761 cases registered in the city. Mumbai followed Delhi, which topped the list with 33 percent of the cases.Mumbai ranked second among metropolitan cities in cases of assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty.Delhi, with 3,746 cases, was followed by Mumbai with 2,183 cases, and Bengaluru (820 cases) in 2016. Mumbai also had the second highest number of rape cases, at 712 cases, after Delhi that had 1,996 cases.In cases of kidnapping and abduction of women, 3,364 cases were registered in Delhi, followed by 1,142 cases in Mumbai, and 674 cases in Bengaluru.Maharashtra held the second position in the country after Uttar Pradesh (UP) in cases of kidnapping and abduction of children, with 7,956 cases registered, followed by Madhya Pradesh (MP) with 6,016 cases registered.The state also held the second position in the country in cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSOA), with 4,815 cases registered followed by MP with 4,717 cases in 2016. UP again leads the list with 4,954 cases registered. Among the 19 cities, Mumbai had the second highest number of POCSO cases, at 979 cases, after Delhi, which had 1,374 cases. Mumbai also ranked second in cases of kidnapping and abduction of children, with 5,457 cases in Delhi and 1,864 cases in Mumbai.When it came to juveniles in conflict with law, Maharashtra ranked second with 6,606 cases registered, after MP, where 7,369 cases were registered in 2016.Mumbai had the highest number of cyber crime cases among the 19 cities, with 980 cases, accounting for 23.5 per cent of the total cases in the metropolitan cities.Overall, Maharashtra stood third in terms of total IPC cases registered in 2013. While UP accounted for 9.5 per cent of total IPC cases in the country. It was followed by Madhya Pradesh (8.9 per cent), Maharashtra (8.8 per cent) and Kerala (8.7 per cent).Mumbai also held third position in terms of total IPC crimes in 19 metropolitan cities. Delhi accounted for 38.8 per cent of total IPC cases, followed by Bengaluru (8.9 per cent) and Mumbai (7.7 per cent).
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Cyclone Ockhi: Torrential rains in Tamil Nadu,Kerala; eight dead

Torrential rains pounded southern districts of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Kerala crippling life and claiming eight lives — four each in the two states — as a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal intensified into cyclonic storm ‘Ockhi’ on Thursday.Both the state governments put the official machinery on high alert as the cyclone, lying 60 kms south of Kanyakumari, was forecast to dump more rains in south Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the next 24 hours. The storm was expected to move toward the Lakshadweep archipelago and hit the islands on December 2. A bulletin issued by the India Meteorological Department said gale wind speed reaching 65-75 kmph gusting to 85 kmph was very likely along and off South Kerala during next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during next 24 hours.Fishermen in coastal regions in southern parts of the two states were advised not to venture into sea for the next 24 hours, it said. Madhavan Rajeevan, Secretary in the Earth Sciences ministry, said in New Delhi that Lakshadweep in the southern part of the Arabian Sea will start experiencing heavy rainfall and strong winds from tomorrow. “It will hit the islands on December 2,” Rajeevan said. Tamil Nadu government deployed state and national disaster response force teams in Kanyakumari district, which bore the brunt of the rain fury.Also readCyclone Ockhi: 4 killed in Kanyakumari, storm likely to intensify in next 24 hoursIt asked officials to shelter people living in low lying areas in the southern districts in multi-purpose evacuation centres. Chief Minister K Palaniswami, who reviewed the situation, said in Chennai state Ministers and senior IAS officials have been assigned to affected districts to monitor relief work. Also, electricity personnel with necessary equipment have been rushed to restore power distribution that was affected due to trees falling over electric poles, Palaniswami said.Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management R B Udhaya Kumar, deputed to Kanyakumari to take up relief work on a war footing, said people in the affected areas have been shifted to safer places. He said nearly 3,000 electric poles have been uprooted in the district, affecting power supply. Besides Kanyakumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts were among those battered by the rains.Educational institutions remained closed in southern districts such as Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Viruthunagar and Thanjavur. Three men and a woman were killed when trees fell on them in different areas in Kanyakumari district, officials said. In Kerala, the state government put the official machinery on a high alert and ordered the evacuation of people living within 100 metres from the coast and also sought help from the Navy, Coast Guard and the Air Force to assist people in distress.Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held discussions through video conferencing with the Collectors of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alapuzha, Pathnamthitta, Idukki and Ernakulam districts and gave them necessary directions to take steps by coordinating various government agencies. The state reported four rain-related deaths, including an elderly couple who were electrocuted when they came into contact with a snapped live wire in front of their house at Kattakada near Thiruvananthapuram.The rains accompanied by gusty winds left a trail of destruction in Kanyakumari district, in the southernmost tip of the country, uprooting more than 500 trees, State Disaster Management Agency said. “Do not come out of homes in Kanyakumari, Tuticorin, and Tirunelveli stay safe indoors and take precautions do not panic,” it said in a tweet. Southern Railway said it has partially cancelled some trains in Tirunelveli-Kanyakumari-Thiruvananthapuram sector.Due to bad weather, a scheduled two-day programme of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, which was to begin tomorrow in Kerala, has been cancelled, party sources said. Thiruvananthapuram and its coastal stretch were witnessing heavy rains accompanied by strong winds since this morning. In several places, electric posts got uprooted. Vizhinjam coastal police said they received information that at least 57 fishermen, who had put out to sea from Thumba to Pozhiyur since yesterday, were yet to return. Twenty nine traditional boats which had set out from Poonthura were also out in the sea, police said. A Kochi report said Navy deployed four ships and two aircraft to assist in the search and rescue of fishermen onboard six boats and a marine Engineering vessel reported to be missing in the sea near Vizhinjam. The Southern Naval Command was also gearing up for any humanitarian assistance and disaster relief that may be required in view of the cyclone in the southern parts of Kerala, a Defence release said.
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Former defence minister AK Antony suffers brain stroke, doctors say condition stable

Former defence minister AK Antony is said to be in stable condition following a brain stroke, the doctors said today.The 76-year-old Member of Parliament and senior Congress leader was admitted to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on Wednesday.”He had suffered a mild brain stroke following which he was brought here. His condition is stable at present, and no surgery is required at the moment,” a senior doctor of the hospital said.Antony, who is from Kerala, was the defence minister in the previous UPA government. He served in that position for seven-and-a-half years, the longest stint so far for an Indian defence minister.The former Kerala chief minister was admitted to the Centre-run hospital after he “suffered a minor brain haemorrhage” when he fell down in his house, a hospital doctor, who did not wish to be named, had said yesterday.
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I need freedom to talk to people I like, not free till now, says Hadiya

Kerala woman Hadiya, who is at the center of Kerala love-jihad case, has claimed that she is yet not free as her demand to meet her husband remains elusive. “I asked for freedom. I wanted to meet my husband Shafin Jahan but the fact is that I’m not free till now and that’s the truth”, ANI quoted Hadiya as saying on Wednesday. She said that she is not asking anything exceptional and these rights are being enjoyed by every Indian citizen.The 24-year-old Hindu woman who converted to marry a Muslim youth will continue to pursue her studies under her previous name Akhila Ashokan, as per the Supreme Court’s direction.The Principal of the Sivaraj Homeopathy Medical College said on Tuesday that he would allow Hadiya to “meet anyone” but with his permission.Hadiya was freed from her parent’s custody on the orders of the Supreme Court. Hadiya’s parents told the Supreme Court that she was brainwashed and forced to convert to Islam.

Gujarat elections 2017 | Congress banking on casteism: Amit Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP national president Amit Shah pulled no punches as he confidently predicted a resounding victory for the saffron party in the Prime Minister’s home state — Gujarat.In a free-wheeling interview to Zee Hindustan, Shah said, “If you look at poll campaigns of both parties in Gujarat, you will see that the Congress has been fighting on the plank of casteism while we have been fighting on the plank of development. And we have seen that time and again the people of Gujarat have rejected casteism in favour of development.”Shah who confidently predicted a resounding victory for the BJP with 163 out of the 182 seats going to the party, stated that the party was ready to answer any issue that the Congress would raise against it. Dismissing Rahul Gandhi’s charges that GST and demonetization had been heavy for the common man, Shah contended that it had cleansed the system. He also replied to the Grand Old Party’s accusations of “corruption” and “favouritism” on the Rafale deal stating, “It is a government to government deal. Let the Winter Session of Parliament come, we are ready to answer to all charges levelled against us.” Asked as to why was the government delaying the announcement of dates for the Winter Session of Parliament, Shah said, “Do remember in the time of the UPA, the sessions of Parliament were delayed as well. It is easy to point fingers at us. We will announce it soon.”Asked about the ongoing ‘Padmavati’ controversy, Shah said. “Please note that it is not just in Gujarat there is a ban on ‘Padmavati’ in many states. History is a sensitive subject and should not be tampered with.”Asked about the issue of love jihad and the recent ongoing case in Kerala. “There has been a recent instance of ISIS operative becoming active in Kerala and using methods such as love jihad. While we endorse the right for anyone to marry, we cannot dismiss such concerns and the government needs to take it seriously.”

Love Jihad case: Partial freedom for Hadiya, SC sends her to medical college

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Supreme Court today freed a Kerala woman, alleged to be a victim of ‘love jihad’, from the custody of her parents and sent her to college to pursue her studies, even as she pleaded that she should be allowed to go with her husband.After a prolonged proceedings in the open courtroom, the top court did not accede to Hadiya’s plea that she should be allowed to go with her husband. She also told the court she wanted “freedom” to live and profess Islamic faith. The apex court, which interacted with 25-year old Hadiya for nearly half-an-hour in the courtroom against the wishes of her father who had sought an in-camera interaction, directed the Kerala police to provide her security and ensure that she travelled at the earliest to Salem in Tamil Nadu to pursue homeopathy studies at Sivaraj Medical College there.Hadiya was in the custody of her parents for almost six months, after the Kerala High Court had on May 29 annulled her ‘nikah’ with Shafin Jahan. Hadiya, a Hindu by birth, had converted to Islam several months before her marriage. The court fixed the plea of Jahan, challenging Kerala High Court’s order annulling his marriage with Hadiya, for hearing in the third week of January next year. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also appointed the dean of the college as her local guardian and granted him liberty to approach it in case of any problem.
ALSO READ Love Jihad case: Hadiya to be taken back to medical college, SC appoints Dean as her guardian The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, directed that Hadiya should be treated as any other student in the college. The top court also acceded to the request of Hadiya that she be first allowed to visit her friend’s home as she has been mentally harassed for past 11 months and allowed her to visit her friend before going to Salem to attend college.Hadiya, when asked by the bench to name any nearest relative or acquaintance at Salem to be named as the local guardian, said she only needed her husband in that role.She said her husband can take care of her expenses of studies and she does not need state’s expenses to pursue her professional course. The bench posed questions in English, while Hadiya replied in Malyalam, which was translated by senior advocate V Giri who appeared for Kerala government. During the hearing, which continued for almost two-and- half hours till 5.30 PM, Hadiya’s parents, her in-laws and her husband were present in the packed courtroom.
ALSO READ Kerala Love Jihad Case: Hadiya says she wasn’t forcefully converted, wants to live with her husbandThe bench asked questions about her ambitions, life, studies and hobbies, which she replied comfortably and said she wanted to do internship of house surgeonship, a course of 11 months and wanted to stand on her own in life.The court directed the college and the university to re-admit Hadiya and grant her hostel facilities. At the outset, senior advocate Shyam Diwan, appearing for Hadiya’s father Asokan K M, said his daughter should be questioned in-camera as this was a case of indoctrination backed by huge organisational support.He claimed there was a highly communally charged atmosphere which could have wider ramifications and insisted on his plea for in-camera proceedings. Diwan also placed an alleged transcript of conversation between one alleged offshore ISIS handler and Hadiya’s husband, saying it showed that Jahan had links with an organisation called Popular Front of India and a larger conspiracy of indoctrination was happening on the ground. He said in social networking sites, there was a conversation between one Abdul Rashid and Jahan in which he has been found asking how much money he can get to make a person join the ranks of militant outfit ISIS.Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for NIA, said there were compelling evidence to show a well-oiled machinery which indulges in indoctrination and conversion.”NIA’s job was to give solid facts and it has been found during investigation that 11 cases were detected by Kerala police and seven such cases involved the same organisation and person. “The real question is how to establish whether a person is indoctrinated, brain-washed or programmed due to which his or her individual autonomy is compromised,” Singh said. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Jahan, said this audio recording was nothing new and was being in circulation for past one year.”What indoctrination? She has been with her parents for past 11 months. National Commission of Women, NIA all interrogated her but state commission for women was not allowed. She is entitled to speak her mind and has her own individual autonomy and the court should hear her,”Sibal said. The bench initially said it would first decide whether to interact with her first and then peruse materials of NIA or first peruse the material and then hear her.”It is a question of what comes first. We have to decide that first. Her father says it is a larger conspiracy but this is also a matter between two adults. Would this case not have the bearing on other cases,” the court observed.Justice Chandrachud posed at what stage the autonomy of an individual is breached, what could be the impact and at what time can the court intervene.He also referred to the ‘Stockholm syndrome’ where a person, who is a hostage, starts believing in his kidnappers. “Although this is not your case, but in such cases there is a free consent of person who is major, but due to this syndrome, he can’t take decisions freely. His individual autonomy is broken,” Justice Chandrachud said. The Kerala government said the court should first peruse the materials and then talk to the woman. “The sequence has to be different at the appellate court.We as a state deal with this scenario everyday at ground level. The court should first look into the material and then talk to her,” Kerala counsel Giri said. To this, the bench said “we are under oath to protect the constitutional values. Constitution does not give us the power to abdicate from hearing a case. We are trying to figure out a way to proceed. We don’t see such cases every day.” The bench then called Hadiya and asked questions while making it clear that case will be heard on merits in the third week of January.

Kerala Love Jihad Case: Hadiya says she wasn’t forcefully converted, wants to live with her husband

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hadiya, the 25-year-old who’s at centre of a controversy over a case of alleged love jihad told reporters at Cochin Airport that she hadn’t been forcefully converted. She was quoted saying by NDTV: “I have not been forcefully converted. I want to live with my husband Sheffin Jahan.” Hadiya is on her way to New Delhi to appear in the Supreme Court on Monday. The 25-year-old is currently living with her parents who have alleged that her marriage to Muslim man was ‘forced’On October 30, the SC had said that Hadiya’s consent as an adult was ‘prime’, and her version of the story will be heard in the land’s apex court on November 27.
ALSO READ Kerala Love jihad case: SC refuses urgent hearing on Hadiya’s father’s plea for in-camera proceedingsEarlier, Sheffin Jahan, husband of Hadiya on Saturday filed a complaint with the Kottayam police stating that attempts are being made to reconvert his wife to Hinduism ahead of her appearance in the Supreme Court on Monday.Sheffin claimed that his wife was counselled by a religious teacher for over three hours on Thursday. Earlier on November 23, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) submitted a status report in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court in connection with the case. Hadiya will appear in the top court on Monday.
ALSO READ Kerala ‘Love Jihad’ Case: SC says consent of woman is prime, asks father to produce Hadiya before it on Nov 27The 24-year-old Hadiya has been in the headlines after she became a Muslim following her marriage to Shafin Jahan. As of now, Hadiya is with her parents, who have alleged that her marriage to a Muslim man is a case of ‘love jihad’. The case is under the consideration of the apex court, which had ordered the NIA to look into it.On September 16, Jahan filed a plea in the Supreme Court and requested to call off the NIA probe, alleging that the investigation agency “is not being fair”. With inputs from ANI

Attacks continue: RSS leader killed in Uttar Pradesh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Kerala and Punjab, yet another Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) leader was killed in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh.The body of an RSS leader Sunil Garg, who was actively campaigning for BJP candidates in Meerut, was found in a sack near a gutter. A resident of Devinagar, Garg had left his house in the evening after campaigning for the BJP candidate in Surajkund ward. When he did not return until late, his wife Rashmi and family members lodged a police complaint.During search operation late Sunday night, police recovered a body from a gutter in Mangal Pandey Nagar near Medical College. The body was wrapped in a sack. Several injury marks from a sharp-edged weapon were found on the body. Family members identified the body as that missing Sunil Garg. The RSS leader was into the iron trade.The SP City Maan Singh said that the police have recovered his mobile from the parking of the medical college. “It appears that the killers attacked him with sharp-edged weapons and after killing him packed his body in a sack and threw it in a gutter near the medical college,” said the SP.“A case has been registered and we have formed a team to investigate the case. We have also sought CCTV footage from the medical authorities to check if anyone was accompanying Garg. The police is also taking statements from the family members to if he was having any trade-related enmity with anyone,” said the SP City.Agitated over the murder of the RSS leader, local BJP leaders and traders have demanded a high-level probe and immediate arrest of killers. On November 16, a BJP leader Shiv Kumar, close to Union minister Dr Mahesh Sharma, was shot dead in broad day light in Greater Noida along with his personal security guard, driver and girl student when assailants sprayed bullets on his vehicle.Earlier, an RSS leader Rajesh Mishra was shot dead by mobile-borne assailants at his shop in Ghazipur district on October 21. Attacks on RSS-BJP leaders in Uttar Pradesh came close to killings of several RSS leaders in Kerala and Punjab.

Kerala: Four RSS workers attacked in Kannur, admitted to hospital

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers were attacked in Kerala’s Kannur district.The development comes a day after the attack on Thiruvananthapuram mayor VK Prashant.On Sunday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had alleged that the attack on Prashant was ‘well-planned’ and led by RSS activists.”The attack was deliberate and without any provocation,” he said in a Facebook post after visiting the mayor at the medical college hospital here.In October, a RSS activist was injured, while bombs were hurled at a BJP party office.The BJP had on October 3 launched its Jana Raksha Yatra from Kannur to highlight ‘Lefts atrocities’ in the state.

Pvt varsity student dies, kin smell rat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A student of a private management university in Jaipur died under suspicious conditions on Saturday. The deceased Stanley from Kerala was a final year MBA student. He was admitted to a private hospital for some time. Even as the university authorities said the student died of a “heart attack”, relatives smelt a rat. They alleged that he was brutally beaten up. A case has been registered at Chandwaji police station.It is being reported that the deceased was assaulted by students of a separate department at the university a couple of days back. He had received head injuries and developed a clot which was being treated at the hospital. The authorities, meanwhile, maintained silence over the issue as investigations were on.

Manmohan Singh wants Left to cooperate with Congress to fight BJP

Updated: Nov 18, 2017, 01:58 PM IST, PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former prime minister Manmohan Singh urged the Left parties in India to cooperate with the Congress leadership at the national level to fight together against the “wrong” policies of the BJP-led Union government.”At the national level, are we going to oppose the BJP as a united front or will the CPI(M) keep BJP and Congress at the same distance?” he asked at a public meeting organised by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).He urged the party to cooperate with the Congress leadership at the national level and put up a united fight against the BJP’s misrule and divisive policies.The former prime minister also criticised Kerala’s CPI (M)-led LDF government, saying “rule of law has crumbled, women in the state do not feel safe and economic progress is slow” under the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government.

From South India’s love for PM Modi to his Pakistan problem: 5 things Pew Survey tells us beyond the obvious

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>By now, most readers would be aware that as per survey done by Pew Research, PM Modi is ‘by-far’ the most popular leader in India. That is as obvious as saying that Game of Thrones is by-far the most talked about show in urban India. What lies behind the mesh of data provided by Pew are interesting nuggets about his real support base, which go well beyond the Whatsapp forwarding trigger-happy uncles. Also, the survey shows while the Indian love affair with PM Modi is well and truly on, there are certain issues where he is seen to be lagging.It needs to be kept in mind, the survey was held in February-March this year, before the implementation of GST and before Indians got to know that 99% of notes again went back to the system post demonetization. So one has to interpret 83% of people happy with economic situation of India in that context. Some of the interesting points from the Pew survey:Modi more popular in South than North and West!This is something that will be music to the BJP’s ears. In South India, which is not a strong base for BJP, Modi enjoys 95% favourable ratings, higher than in West, East or North. It shows that while BJP may be lagging in states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, owing to lack of good leadership, PM Modi enjoys overwhelming popularity. The popular theory is that BJP is a party of North and East, and in South its Hindu nationalistic effect is neutralized by Dravidian sub-nationalism. If Pew research is to be believed, Modi has clearly breached the giant Vindhya divide and it can potentially be a spring board for BJP. The survey was not done in Kerala, a battleground for volatile RSS- CPI(M) battle in last few years. One can’t help wonder if the survey result would be different if Kerala was included.Not just the urban male support-baseMany times BJP baiters caricature the support base of the party as urban-predominately male. However, Pew survey shows that stereotype doesn’t really add up in hard numbers. PM Modi virtually has equal favourability among men (89%) and women(86%). He is most popular among the youth (90%), closely followed by those in 30-40 age category (89%). Incidentally it is 7% less in those above 50 years age.In urban India, 92% support PM Modi, whereas he is viewed favourably among 86% of rural population. A staggering 95% of those who have gone to college approve of PM Modi’s ways. Now, they all definitely are not BJP supporters and approval shouldn’t be equated with a vote in elections. But it shows that Narendra Modi’s support base is consolidating and even growing after three years at the helm. Pew didn’t offer any religion-based support parameters for the leaders, which would have given a fascinating data set. Handling of communal issues continue to remain an issueOne of the growing line of criticism faced by BJP and PM Modi, that communal tensions have shot up in the last few years. There have been allegations that cow vigilantes are on the rise. Stories like Dadri lynching have been splashed in major international outlets. It seems that’s an issue which resonates with Indian voters too. Only 50% think he has done a good job in handling communal relations. Only 43% women approve of his methods in this criteria.The good news for Modi and BJP, is communal relations comes pretty low in priority for Indian voters. Only 37%, thing it is an important issue, probably an indicator of the general majority electorate.Modi’s Pak and China policy gets a big thumbs down: For a poll, which has virtually given overwhelming positive numbers to PM Modi’s policy measures, it throws a shocking number for his Pakistan policy. Only 21% approve of his handling. Probably the blow hot and blow cold approach hasn’t gone down well with the voters. The numbers are so low despite the surgical strikes done on September 2016. The Pak policy is still in a limbo and the numbers merely manifest the general frustration with the situation. PM Modi’s China policy also has received lukewarm support. Only 33% approve of it, whereas 30% disapprove it and others have no view to offer. One needs to remember, this survey was done pre-Doklam stand-off, which was ably defused by the Modi administration. So it’s a reasonable assumption that his approval number about China would be few notches up now. BJP, not exactly a party of 31% support base:One popular liberal rhetoric post 2014, has been that only one out of three Indians voted for BJP and hence the party won just because of splintered opposition. But the survey shows, nearly 85% Indians have a favourable view of BJP. The number is 59% for Congress. Despite all the online acrimony, 60% of Congress party supporters have a favourable view of the BJP. Whereas the number is 45% for BJP supporters having a positive view of Congress. The underline implication of it is many times voting pattern is determined by winnability. A lot of people particularly in South and East may have favourable view of BJP, but they are not voting for them as they are stilll a feeble force. In other words, mere goodwill is not enough to win elections.

Another RSS worker killed, Amit Shah lashes out at Kerala CM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP president Amit Shah lashed out at Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after an RSS worker was hacked to death in the temple town of Guruvayur today, and asked what his government was doing to “curb criminal elements” in the ranks of his CPI(M).Twenty-three-year-old Anandan was attacked with swords and knives in broad daylight allegedly by CPI(M) workers at Nenmeni in Guruvayur this afternoon when he was riding a motorcycle. Anandan died soon after.”The continuous violence by CPM workers & the protection to such political killings is now before the nation. CM Pinarayi must explain what his govt is doing to curb criminal elements in his rank(sic),” Shah tweeted.The incident occurred around 1.30 pm. The victim, Anandan, was riding a motorcycle when he was attacked with swords and knives, allegedly by the CPI(M) workers, who came in a car. He was rushed to a hospital, but his life could not be saved, the police said. Anandan, hailing from Brahmakulam, was an accused in a case related to the murder of a CPI(M) worker in 2013.
ALSO READ Kerala: RSS worker hacked to death, CPI(M) hand suspected The police said Anandan’s body was shifted to Thrissur medical college hospital. The BJP will protest against the incident tomorrow. In a statement, party state president Kummanam Rajasekharan said the ruling CPI(M) was not prepared to give up violence and this is clear from today’s incident. A strike is being observed by the saffron party in Guruvayoor and Manaloor in Thrissur district. The BJP alleged that as many as 120 of its workers, 84 in Kannur alone, have been killed in Kerala since 2001.It claimed that 14 of these killings have taken place since Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took over the reins of the government last year.The CPI(M) in turn accused the BJP and the RSS of indulging in violence and denied the involvement of its government and leadership in political killings.

NCW chairperson meets Kerala DGP over ‘forceful’ conversions and ISIS link

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National Commission of Women Chairperson in-charge Rekha Sharma on Wednesday asked the Kerala Police chief to look into whether some institutions are involved in “forceful conversions” and their source of funds.”These institutions are playing a big role in forceful conversions,” she told reporters here after the meeting with DGP Loknath Behra.The DGP has promised to look into the matter, she said.It was a matter of concern, the chairperson said, adding she had also met many girls who had been “forcefully converted”.However, the Kerala State Women’s Commission had on Tuesday rejected the charge that “forced conversions” took place in the state.Sharma, who is in the state since the past three days, also met Bindu, mother of Nimisha Fatima, who is suspected to have joined ISIS along with her husband.Later, speaking to reporters, Bindu said, “I have faith in God. God will return my daughter, son-in-law and grandchild,” and added that she had not heard from her daughter since the past one and half years.Nimisha had married Christian youth Bexian Vincent and both of them converted to Islam before allegedly leaving for Afghanistan to join the Islamic State in May last year.Bexian’s brother and sister-in-law had also accompanied them.Sharma had earlier met Hadiya, a 24-year-old woman whose marriage with Shafin Jahan, an alleged member of the Popular Front of India, is at the centre of a nationwide controversy.The Kerala High Court had annulled their marriage following which Jahan had approached the Supreme Court seeking recall of its August 16 order directing the National Investigating Agency to probe the controversial case of conversion and marriage of the woman with him.The apex court had directed Hadiya’s father to produce her before it on November 27. ​

Rajasthan HC spurns love jihad claims, lets ‘converted’ woman go with her husband

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A 22-year-old woman, who was sent to a state-run shelter last week after her brother alleged that she was forcibly converted to Islam and married, today went back to her husband after the Rajasthan High Court set her free.The woman Payal Singhvi alias Aarifa Modi was produced in the court during the hearing of the case and refused to go to the Nari Niketan, the counsel for her brother, Gokulesh Bohra, said.The woman’s counsel objected to her being kept at the shelter and contended that as she was a major, she should be free to exercise her will.”The court asked her and she said she did not wish to go to Nari Niketan. The court said she was free after which she preferred to go with her husband (Faiz Modi),” Bohra said.Meanwhile, Additional Advocate General (AAG) Rajesh Panwar submitted documents pertaining to conversion provisions in the state as directed by the court.The court then listed the matter for hearing tomorrow.Pulling up the state police over its handling of the case, the high court had last Wednesday directed it to register an FIR and submit a report after the woman’s brother claimed that it was an instance of ‘love jihad’.A bench of justices GK Vyas and MK Garg had directed the state government to file a reply clarifying the legal provisions pertaining to religious conversion in the state.Hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the woman’s brother, the bench had expressed anger over the “negligence” of the police, which allegedly refused to file an FIR on her family’s complaint.The court questioned as to how the police could assume that the girl’s conversion was legal “just by way of an affidavit over a stamp paper of Rs 10″, when there was no provision in law in this regard.In his petition, the brother claimed that Faiz Modi had been harassing his sister for long and abducted her while she was going to college.She was made to sign some papers by him and fake marriage documents were prepared, he alleged.When the family members could not find her, they approached the police which refused to file an FIR stating that Faiz Modi had already produced proof of marriage and an affidavit of religious conversion by the woman dated April 14, the brother had alleged.He alleged that she was blackmailed by the accused with objectionable pictures and forced to convert to Islam and marry him.”This is a clear case of ‘love jihad’ and over half a dozen such cases have already been reported in the city in the past some time due to the disinterest shown by the police in investigating these cases,” the petitioner’s lawyer Gokulesh Bohra had said.The court had directed that the woman be sent to Nari Niketan (women shelter) for seven days and instructed the police to ensure that no one meets her there.Police had filed an FIR on the direction of the court.The matter came in the backdrop of the controversy over a case of a Kerala Hindu woman, who had converted to Islam before marrying a Muslim man, Shafin Jahan.The Kerala High Court had annulled his marriage and described it as an instance of ‘love jihad’, which was challenged by Jahan.It was alleged that the woman was recruited by Islamic State’s mission in Syria and Jahan was only a stooge.Ashokan K M, the father of the woman, had alleged that there was a “well-oiled systematic mechanism” for conversion and Islamic radicalisation.Jahan had on September 20 approached the apex court seeking recall of its August 16 order directing the NIA to investigate the controversial case.The matter is now before the apex court.

RS bypoll: Alphons Kannanthanam to file nomination today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister of State (independent charge) for Tourism, Electronics and IT, Alphons Kannanthanam will file his nomination for the Rajya Sabha in Jaipur on Monday. The seat has fallen vacant after Venkaiah Naidu was elected as the country’s vice president.Kannanthanam reached Jaipur on Sunday morning. He was received at the airport by state BJP chief Ashok Parnami and several ministers of the Raje cabinet along with large number of party workers.A meeting of the BJP legislative group is scheduled for 10 am on Monday at the Rajasthan state assembly and Kannanthanam will file his nomination after that. His victory is being considered a certainty as the Congress has decided not to field a candidate.Speaking to the media at the state BJP office Kannanthanam expressed gratitude towards the chief minister Vasundhara Raje for making him a candidate from the state. He said the state had immense opportunities in the field of tourism because of its rich heritage and diverse wildlife.Kannanthanam also attended the Swar Govindam programme of the RSS at the Chitrakoot stadium, where RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was present. He, however, seemed a bit out of place at the RSS programme and did not appear to know what was expected out of him. He did not do the dhwaj pranam of the RSS.The election for Rajya Sabha seat will be held November 16. Kannanthanam left IAS service in 2006 with eight years still left. He became an MLA from Kanjirappally in Kottayam district of Kerala. He has also practised as an advocate in the Supreme Court.

Don’t have a magic wand, but my efforts should be judged with sincerity: J&K special interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Centre’s special representative for Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma says he does not have a magic wand, but wants to be judged by his actions when he starts the process of talks in the Valley on Monday.”I do not have a magic wand but my efforts have to be judged with sincerity and not through the prism of the past,” Sharma, 61, said.The former Intelligence Bureau director added that no one should jump to conclusions before the process of talks with various stakeholders in Kashmir began.”I would like to be judged by my actions,” he told PTI from Delhi.Describing his work as a “serious effort”, he added that “one should refrain from fishing in the desert”.”I am going there tomorrow to be with my people and understand their pain and suffering and find a suitable remedy to their problems,” Sharma said.Responding to criticisms which have appeared in sections of the media, he said in due course he would also meet intellectuals for their advice in achieving “this difficult national task”.Sharma, who is originally from Bihar and was a Kerala- cadre IPS officer of the 1979 batch, held the country’s top- most post for a police officer from 2014 to 2016.He said Kashmir was his “second home” as his professional journey in the premier intelligence unit began here in 1992.”Nothing has changed since I was there for the first time. Kashmiriyat, which means compassion and brotherhood, has not changed even an iota. Therefore, I am hopeful that I will be at least able to contribute towards a new Kashmir, a peaceful Valley where prosperity will be the order of the day,” he said.Last month, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while announcing that Sharma would be the interlocutor for Kashmir, had referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech from the Red Fort this year.Modi had said on August 15, “Na gaali se, na goli se, parivartan hoga gale lagaane se (Only by embracing the people, and not with abuses or bullets, can there be a change in Kashmir).”Asked about the course of action he would follow, Sharma said, “I do not have a magic wand to change the situation overnight. But having said that, I will like to emphasise during my proposed meetings beginning tomorrow, my every effort will be to work towards ensuring permanent peace in the state.”The special representative will meet political leaders, traders and other delegations tomorrow, according to a list drawn up by the state government.However, he made it clear he had his own list of people whom he would meet as well.To a question about a statement made by the Joint Resistance Front comprising separatist groups including moderate and hardline factions of the Hurriyat and JKLF that they would not meet him, Sharma said the government’s effort should not be seen through the “prism of the past”.”It is purely their choice whether they want to be a partner in peace or on the opposite side of the fence where destruction has been topping the agenda. My suggestion to everyone is that they should not see this effort of the government through the prism of the past.” he said.Efforts had previously been made by successive central governments too, he said.”I have no idea what happened to them and, therefore, I would not like to comment. I can only talk about this initiative which has been done with a serious thought process and months of hard work by many,” he said.

Kerala road rage: CPM leader drags out pregnant woman, hits her in stomach

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a shocking incident, a local CPM leader has been arrested in Kerala for attacking a pregnant woman during an alleged case of road rage on Saturday.According to media reports, Antonio Williams, a local CPM leader from Kollam was travelling along with his friends when the victim’s car hit his vehicle. Soon a scuffle broke out and Williams allegedly dragged out the victim from teh car and hit her in stomach.The leader was druck at the time of the incident that took place on Thursday. An HT report said that locals came out in support of the victim and helped police in arrested the accused.Police later registered a case under sections 332 (voluntarily hurting a public servant and disrupting his work), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) and 354 (assault or a criminal force on a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code.

Kamal Haasan raises Hindu terror, BJP hits back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid heightened speculation of his foray into politics, actor Kamal Haasan waded into a controversy with his remarks about “right wing terror”. Reacting sharply, the BJP dismissed the actor as not “a star of any standing right now” and called him “desperate”.”The right wing cannot challenge talk of Hindu terrorists because terror has spread into their camp as well,” the actor wrote in the latest issue of Tamil weekly ‘Ananda Vikatan’. He, however, took no names in his column.”Hindus are losing faith in ‘satyameva jayate’ and instead subscribing to ‘might is right’,” he rued adding that extremism is in no way a (mark of) success or growth for those who call themselves Hindus.The actor made the comments responding to a question by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who asked what the actor felt about “Hindutva forces weakening Dravidian culture through slow intrusion”.Hassan has been indicating his inclination to enter politics and has met some Opposition leaders, including Vijayan, recently.BJP leader, Subramanian Swamy, who, hails from Tamil Nadu, said Hassan is not “a star of any standing right now”. “All the while I was fighting corruption, he was sitting in air conditioned rooms buttering (late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister) J Jayalalithaa. He has been utilised by the Left. This politics won’t work anywhere, leave aside Tamil Nadu,” Swamy said.In a sharp riposte, BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao told DNA, “We are very curious to know what Kamal Hassan thinks of Zakir Naik, PFI in Kerala and Left Front’s reign of red terror in Kerala? With his myopic and brazen comments on the so-called Hindu terror, Kamal Haasan has signalled that he has arrived on political scene as a fringe element,” Rao said.He said that opportunistic politicians who have taken this cynical route have bit dust in politics for hurting Indian sentiments. “Many Tollywood actors wannabe MGRs are desperate for media attention,” he said.

Six more youngsters from Kannur have joined ISIS in Syria: Kerala police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kerala police on Thursday confirmed that six more youngsters from Kannur district have joined the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.Police said that these people were active workers of PFI in Kerala.The development comes amid police trying to confirm news about the death of five Islamic State sympathisers from the district in Syria.The news about the death of one of them, Muhammed Shajil (25) was conveyed by his wife in a foreign country, to his uncle. The wife of another Rishad disclosed information about his death to her mother.Three youths – Mithilaj, Abdul Razzak and Rashid – with suspected links to the IS were arrested by the Valapattinam police in the district on October 25 followed by the arrest of two others the next.According to some estimates around 100 Indian have left to fight for the Islamic State mainly in Syria and Iraq. Most of these cases have been reported to police by the families of these youths. In July 2016, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the Assembly that 21 Muslim youths from the state had gone missing over a month, and it was suspected that they had joined the extremist group.

Ram Nath Kovind completes 100 days as president

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Efficient management of time and speedy decision-making have been the focus of President Ram Nath Kovind who completed 100 days in office today, according to officials of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.Kovind, who took over on July 25 as the 14th president, has also sought to reach out to the states, which form a crucial part of the federal structure of the country, by undertaking visits there.He has already visited several states and the target is to cover almost all the states by the year-end, the officials told PTI.The states which Kovind visited included those ruled by non-NDA parties, like Karnataka and Kerala, they pointed out, seeking to underline that the president was being non-partisan as he ought to be.In fact, he travelled to Kerala twice.In some states, the president travelled to rural and interior areas, the officials said.But in all these travels, he mostly did not stay overnight and returned the same evening, as part of his thrust on efficient time management, the officials said.As president, Kovind also undertook his first foreign visit to Djibouti and Ethiopia from October 3 to 6.”It was a tightly-packed visit involving lot of travel and no rest,” an official said.The officials said Kovind has also ensured speedy decision-making.Giving an example, they said the waiting time for the presentation of credentials by foreign ambassadors and high commissioners has been reduced to the maximum of two to three weeks, which earlier used to be up to months.So far, he has received credentials from 12 ambassadors and high commissioners, including the Russian ambassador and the Pakistan high commissioner, the officials said.Kovind is also making the Rashtrapati Bhavan more accessible to the public. One of the steps taken in this direction is making the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s library accessible to common people online.Recently, the Rashtrapati Bhavan also became a venue for the culmination of Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s ‘Bharat Yatra’, a movement to spread awareness about child abuse and trafficking.A highlight of the event was a special gesture by the president to make a Dalit girl sit next to him.This gesture touched Satyarthi and he recorded it in hand-written letter to Kovind, the officials said.

Italian PM holds delegation-level, bilateral talks with Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and Italy on Monday breathed life into their relationship, inking six pacts in the fields of cyber security, railways sector safety, energy and promoting mutual investments and also agreed to enhance cooperation on wide-ranging issues including challenges posed by terrorism. The relations were in deep freeze since 2012, after the arrest of two Italian military personnel by Indian Navy, who had gunned down two Indian fishermen along the coast of Kerala. In 2013, the relationship took a further dip, when a case was registered against Italy-based Finmeccanica, on allegations of bribing several senior officials to secure a contract worth $36 billion for Agusta Westland to purchase of a new fleet of helicopters.Accompanied by a powerful business and official delegation, visiting Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni held both delegation level and bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. Addressing a joint media event with Gentiloni, Modi noted that there was a huge potential for enhancing India-Italy trade ties. He said Italy is India’s fifth largest trading partner in the European Union, with a bilateral trade of $8.79 billion in 2016-17. Among a range of issues, both leaders agreed that the refugee crises is a global phenomenon and requires an international response, noting the on-going discussions within the UN framework and their respective positions. Like Europe, India is also a favourite destination for refugees in South Asia.A joint statement issued at the end of the meeting said both leaders agreed to further strengthen consultation to combat terrorism through regular exchange of assessments and information, training and capacity building programmes, etc. “The leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation to take decisive and concerted actions against Al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates and all other UN-designated terrorists,” said the statement.The two leaders announced setting up of an ‘Indo-Italian High Level Forum on Design, with a focus on inter-industrial design, auto design, architecture, interior design, and fashion. The high-level forum will endeavour to bring together prominent experts from the areas mutually identified, with the task of defining a programme of activities like organising exhibitions, workshops and establishing contacts between young designers, etc.PM Gentiloni underlined Italy’s industrial expertise in defence sector, and renewed interest of Italian industry in participating in defence manufacturing under the “Make in India” initiative. The joint statement stated that the two sides will discuss in the appropriate Working Group the draft Technical Agreement on Sharing of White Shipping Information between the Navies.Later, while addressing a gathering organised by a think-tank, the Italian PM significantly admitted EU failure in Syria, where they were banking on a military solution to oust the Bashar Hafez al-Assad government. He said the EU has now changed position to impress upon the Asaad government to find solution to restore Syrian entity. He emphasised the need to marry the concept of globalisation to domestic interests as well. He said, over the past few years, Italy has changed labour laws, reformed banking system and updated its justice and education system as well.Describing India a stable power in the region, he said there was much hope for Asia as it possesses a strong and stable leadership, making an oblique reference to Modi and China’s Xi Jinping. He also mentioned that democracy has the potential to fight the root causes of terrorism. While describing Russia a challenge to the EU, he said there was a consensus to keep channels of communication open.MENDING TIESIndia-Italy relations were in deep freeze since 2012, after the arrest of 2 Italian military personnel by Indian Navy, who had gunned down 2 Indian fishermen. In 2013, the relationship tworsened when a case was registered against Italy-based Finmeccanica, on allegations of bribing senior officials to secure a contract worth $36 bn for Agusta Westland to purchase a new fleet of helicopters.

‘A communist paradise’: CPI(M) in Kerala comes in for lavish praise in Washington Post article

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ruling CPI(M) in Kerala has come in for praise in an article in ‘The Washington Post’, one of the prominent American newspapers, for the “achievements” of the state under its rule.”A small state in India offers a place for a communist to dream,” said the front page article titled “A communist success” in the newspaper’s October 29 edition.It spoke of the communist party’s journey in the southern state and devoted an entire central page to contributions of the Left party in Kerala.”In a small Indian state, the party of Marx may have done too well for its own good,” it said.”Instead of ossifying into an autocratic force, Kerala’s communists embraced electoral politics and since 1957 have been routinely voted into power,” the article said.It also points out that unlike in other parts of the world, the communist movement in the state never sought to “stamp out religion”.It traces various stages of the growth and development of the Left movement in the state and also carries pictures and excerpts of an interview of state Finance Minister and economist T M Thomas Issac.”A century after Bolsheviks swarmed the Winter Palace in Petrograd, Russia (now St Petersburg), the Indian state of Kerala, home to 35 million people, remains one of the few places on earth where communists can still dream,” the Washington Post noted.It also said unlike communists in China, Latin America or Eastern Europe, party leaders in the southern state never seized factories or banned private property.”Instead, they competed in elections with the centre-left Indian National Congress party, winning some years and losing others,” it added.The newspaper also praised Kerala’s workforce calling it “healthy and educated”.

At least 3 killed, 45 injured after FOB collapses in Kerala’s Kollam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three women were killed and 45 others injured when an overcrowded footover bridge collapsed under the weight of commuters at a state-run industrial complex in Chavara near Kollam today, police said.Shyamala Devi Amma (55), Anjala and Annamma died in the freak mishap. They were employees of the Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (KMML).While the body of Amma was recovered soon after the accident this morning, the other two were found under the iron beams of the collapsed bridge late in the evening.The injured persons were said to be out of danger.Located inside the KMML complex, the iron bridge was used by employees to reach to the adjacent mineral separation unit of the company.The police said that the bridge collapsed as it was overcrowded. Employees were going to join duty in the morning and and some agitating contractual miners of the company were returning after a discussion with the management, they added.The government ordered an inquiry and asked Industries Secretary Paul Antony to file a report at the earliest.State Industries Minister A C Moideen said here in a statement that the company authorities have been directed to repair the bridge at the earliest.He said the state government would consider providing jobs to the relatives of the deceased and financial aid to those injured in the accident.

PM Modi, Italian PM sign six pacts, address terrorism and cyber crime

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and Italy on Tuesday inked six pacts, including on boosting cooperation in the energy and trade sectors, after extensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni on key issues such as terrorism and cyber crime.The two leaders also discussed ways to strengthen the bilateral political and economic relations, apart from deliberating on strategic international and regional issues.Addressing a joint media event with Gentiloni, Modi said they discussed wide-ranging issues, including the challenges posed by terrorism and cyber crimes, while agreeing to enhance cooperation to counter them.Modi also noted that there was a huge potential for enhancing India-Italy trade ties.After the Modi-Gentiloni meeting, the two sides signed six pacts to deepen cooperation in the fields of railways sector safety, energy and promoting mutual investments, among others.Italy is India’s fifth largest trading partner in the EU with a bilateral trade of USD 8.79 billion in 2016-17, as per official figures.India’s exports to Italy were at USD 4.90 billion, while its imports were at USD 3.89 billion, resulting in a trade imbalance of USD 1 billion in favour of India. In the first four months of fiscal 2017-18, bilateral trade has reached USD 3.22 billion.Ahead of his meeting with Modi, the visiting leader had described his visit as an opportunity to make ties between the two countries stronger.Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Gentiloni and discussed issues of mutual interest, ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.Gentiloni’s visit is the first prime ministerial trip from Italy in more than a decade.The India-Italy diplomatic ties were hit badly after two Italian marines — Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone — on board a ship named Enrica Lexie, were arrested for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012.Italy claimed the ship was in international waters and that only the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) should apply. It also moved the international court.While Latorre returned to Italy in September 2014 following an order of the Supreme Court issued on health grounds, Girone was allowed to go in May 2016.They are now in Italy, pending the verdict by the arbitration court at the Hague. The Indo-Italy diplomatic row also impacted the European Union’s relationship with India.

BJP names Alphons Kannanthanam for RS in Rajasthan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister of State (independent charge) for Tourism, Electronics and IT, Alphons Kannanthanam is set to enter the Rajya Sabha as an MP from Rajasthan. He has been declared as the BJP candidate for the seat vacated by Venkaiah Naidu after being elected as the vice-president of India. It will be the first time that former bureaucrat turned minister Alphons will become a member of parliament.The Rajya Sabha by-election is scheduled to take place on November 16, a notification for which will be declared on Monday. To be nominated as BJP candidate for the post, Alphons was also appointed BJP’s election in-charge in Meghalaya. Ashok Parnami congratulated Alphons after he was declared party candidate for RS election. Alphons Joseph Kannanthanam was an Indian civil servant.With eight years to go in the IAS, he quit the civil services in 2006 and was elected a Member of the Legislative Assembly, from Kanjirappally in Kottayam District, Kerala. He is also a practicing advocate in the High court and the Supreme Court of India.He is currently serving as the Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Culture, and Tourism, in office since September 3, 2017, under the BJP Government of Narendra Modi. He is the second BJP Central Minister from Kerala after O. Rajagopal. Kannanthanam belongs to the 1979 batch of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Kerala cadre. He was on Time Magazine’s list of 100 Young Global Leaders. He pioneered the literacy movement in India by making Kottayam the first 100% literate town of India in 1989. He served as Commissioner of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

Kerala power minister shares pic from South Korea for state’s first floating solar plant

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The internet is a cruel place, and all of us know what happens if you share a fake news story or tweet a fake image. The latest person who fell for the internet hoax was Kerala Electricity Minister MM Mani, who shared news of a floating solar plant in the state.While the news of the plant’s inauguration may be true, the picture, it was discovered, was from a solar plant in South Korea. Realising the error, the tweet and the Facebook posts were deleted, but not before many netizens took screenshots and shared the tweet on their timeline.A reverse Google image search showed the photograph is of a plant in Otae and Jipyeong Reservoirs in Sangju City of Gyeongsang Bukdo Province of South Korea. SM Hoax Slayer, a website that works against fake news, has also reported the same.The floating solar plant project in Wayanad is part of the state government’s ambitious plans to ratchet up electricity generation using renewable energy like other states. According to the minister, the plant, that will be operated by the state electricity board, will generate 7.5 lakh units of power annually.An official at Adtech Systems Limited, that has commissioned and constructed the project, said it is the ‘largest’ floating solar project in the country and built within one year. It is likely to be inaugurated by November 1, the state’s formation day.

Kerala is the ‘global face’, ‘digital powerhouse’ of India: President Ram Nath Kovind

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Ram Nath Kovind today termed Kerala the “global face” and “digital powerhouse” of the country, lauding its achievements in the sectors of health, education, sanitation and IT.Kovind, on his second tour to Kerala after assuming the office, attended two functions here today, wherein he said the emphasis on development, health care and education in the state is an example for the rest of the country.Congratulating the CPI(M)-led LDF government in the state in expanding Internet connectivity, he said it would remove the digital divide in the society.”I understand that the government is making efforts to bridge the digital divide and provide free Internet connections to two million poor families by using a new optic fibre network,” he said after launching the state’s ambitious Technocity project at Pallippuram near here.Kerala ranked eighth in the IT sector in the country, he said, adding “the sector provides direct employment to one lakh people”.”This is only the tip of the iceberg. There is immense capacity to make these numbers grow,” he said.Kovind praised the southern state’s tradition and said its thinking has been “humanistic, people-oriented and democratic”.”In sanitation, your achievements are praiseworthy. In local self-government and panchayati raj, again Kerala has deepened our democracy,” he said.Calling Kerala as the “land of spiritualism”, he said that over centuries, the state has been the home of some great religions.”Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures are age-old and have existed in close proximity here. They have given space to each other. It is important to keep that tradition of harmony alive even today,” he said.Kovind praised the hardworking and pleasing nature of Keralites, especially in the field of health care and hospitality.”Here the local people of Kerala across the socio- economic spectrum deserve to be congratulated for having created a remarkable hospitality industry and I would say hospitality culture. This is a role model for many parts of India,” he said.Hospitals and medical centres in and outside the country cannot function without the “ever smiling and ever attentive sisters from Kerala”, he said, adding health care workers from the state, both men and women, are internationally sought after.Mentioning the valuable contributions by the Malayalee migrant community in other countries, the President said they are the backbone of the work-force of so many Gulf nations.”God’s Own Country (Kerala) has an uncommon and important identity as a global face of India. This is true in so many ways,” he said.The President’s praise for Kerala’s religious harmony, hard working nature of its people and achievements of the government comes in the wake of saffron outfits alleging that the southern state has become a fertile land for political violence and jihadi terror.The praise also comes against the backdrop of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath attacking the state for its “poor healthcare” facilities and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Pairkkar stating that Kerala is being ruled by “rogues”.The BJP leaders had visited the state to participate in the recently concluded Janarakha Yatra, taken out by state BJP against alleged political violence unleashed by ruling CPI(M) against its cadres.

Job application: HC allows transgender to declare sex as woman

Updated: Oct 25, 2017, 06:51 PM IST, PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kerala High Court on Wednesday allowed a member of the transgender community to declare her sex as woman in the application for a state government job.Justice K Vinod Chandran gave the interim order while considering a plea filed by the transgender in which it complained that there were only two options — male and female — in the section seeking information about the sex of the person applying for the job.The examination for the job is conducted by the State Public Service Commission.The transgender, who is a post graduate in Mathematics, pleaded before the court that a separate column for the transgender community be included in the PSC application form to help them in applying for the government job.Lack of such a column is creating difficulties for qualified people from the transgender community in applying for government jobs, the petitioner said.

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