Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fuel tanker explodes near Kollam; 1 dead, 21 injured

Kollam: A tanker carrying 19 tons of LPG collided with a car and exploded, killing one person, injuring 20 others, 4 of them seriously and the leaping flames engulfed a row of shops and houses at Puthantheruvu near here today. Most of the injured were either policemen or the local people helping with the efforts to douse the fire. The fire has been completely extinguished, officials said.

Rashid, 32, hailing from Karunagapally, succumbed to his injuries.
More Photos
The tanker lorry on its way to Paripally from Mangalore hit a speeding car at around 3 in the morning and overturned. The lorry was proceeding to the Paripally filling station when it collided with a car going towards Ochira from Thiruvananthapuram airport.

There was leak of cooking fuel. The police jeep which arrived on the scene after half-an-hour parked its vehicle around 200 metres away from the tanker. It is learnt that when the police started the jeep the spark from the engine ignited a blaze and the tanker exploded with a loud bang.

As many as 21 persons suffered burn injuries and four are supposed to be in a critical condition. Among the injured, 9 were rushed to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital and 3 to the KIMS Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram. A constable attached to the Chavara police station Pradeep Kumar is serious. Pradeep Kumar was injured when trying to undertake rescue operations. The 3 admitted to KIMS are also stated to becritical and have sufferred 100 percent burns.

Three persons who were travelling in the car were also injured and rushed to the Alapuzha Medical College Hospital. They are reported to be stable. The other injured persons have been admitted to the Kollam Medical College Hospital and Karunagappally Taluk Hospital.

Those in the police jeep bore the brunt of the tragedy. Chavara SI Shukoor, ASI K C Philip, constable from the AR camp Alexander Luke and policemen Sameer, Vinod and C P Jose were all injured in the blaze.

The fire engulfed a row of shops and a few houses. A police jeep and 10 motorcycles parked in the area were also gutted.

Hospitals were packed with writhing burn victims. Some had sheets of skin peeling off their backs.

Fireforce personnel after battling most of the blaze extinguished it completely only after the fuel in the lorry had been burnt. Around 20 fire engines were working on the scene and trying to bring the situation under control. As a precautionary measure, people living in the proximity of the mishap site were evacuated and residents asked to switch off gas supply in their homes. Schools in and around Karunagapally declared a holiday today.

Traffic on the busy National Highway passing through the area has been held up and train traffic between Kollam and
Kayankulam has also been stopped, they said.

The services of fire force personnel from Kollam and nearby districts have been requisitioned to fight the blaze.

Madhani alleges conspiracy

Express News Service. 29 Dec 2009

KOCHI: Joining chorus with Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, PDP leader Abdul Nasser Madhani on Monday said that there was a conspiracy behind the NIA taking over the investigation into the Kalamassery bus-burning case without consulting the State Government. “There is a political conspiracy behind the NIA taking over the case.

Those who hatched the conspiracy wanted to target not only me but also a community as such,” Madhani told reporters here.

He said that he was ready to cooperate with any investigation and would fight his political opponents in a democratic manner.

Kerala govt on collision course with NIA

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 27

The state government appears to be on a collision course with the the National Investigating Agency (NIA) with Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan questioning its intent in taking up various cases in the State without informing the government.

“Why is the NIA taking so much interest in cases in Kerala alone. The agency has not shown much interest in the Bangalore, Ahmedabad or Surat blasts but the cases in Kerala,’’ Balakrishnan told newsmen in New Delhi.

The minister’s statement comes in the wake of the NIA decision to investigate two more cases, including the Kalamassery bus burning incident and the one involving recruitment of youths from Kerala to Kashmir. The reports say that the NIA believes that there was a terror angle to the bus burning case, something the state police are yet to unearth. The minister claimed that the NIA could not take up cases prior to 2009 for investigation without the state’s consent.

Thadiyantavide Nazir who is in the custody of Karnataka police is the prime accused while Sufiya Madhani, wife of PDP chairman Abdul Nasser Madhani, is the tenth accused in the bus burning case. The State police are in the final stage of the investigations in this case.
Balakrishnan said that the Central agencies were keeping the State in the dark about the intelligence they had gathered in cases having a Kerala angle. He was also referring to the much-delayed confirmation of the arrest of Nazir and Shafaz from the Indo-Bangladesh border.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Scientists Working To Improve Kerala's Ayurvedic Medicinal Rice

29 Dec 2009 PTI

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, A research project to preserve and sustain the fast dwindling cultivation of medicinal 'njavara rice' by improving its genetic qualities has been taken up by the Kerala Agricultural University.

'Njavara' is extensively used in the Indian medicinal system of 'Ayurveda' for a variety of cures including those for rheumatism, respiratory and digestive problems.

Though 'njavara' was earlier cultivated in many parts of the state like Palakkad, Malappuram and Thrissur in view its demand for medicinal use, its cultivation has now come down to a mere 50 hectares involving a total of around 30 farmers, mostly in Chittur in the state's Palakkad district.

The reason for the sharp fall in the cultivation of 'njavara' is that it requires constant attention, high input cost and that the crop is often subject to the vagaries of climate.

A group of researchers at the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) have prepared a project to bring genetic changes in the basic characteristics of the cereal, which could increase the quality of the variety.

Apart from artificial methods, conventional breeding techniques would be used to advance the basic qualities of the rice variety.

Quoting S.Leenakumari, a professor at KAU, PTI reported that by improving the strain of the traditional variety it could be made stronger to withstand the onslaught of climate and ensure higher output.

The ultimate beneficiary of the project would be farmers who could tap on the increasing demand for the 'njavara' rice considering its variety of medicinal applications, she said.

This medicinal variety of rice is of special significance since medical tourism has been gaining strength in Kerala with Ayurvedic resorts attracting people from abroad, including Europe, the United States and West Asia.

According to Ayurvedic experts, Njavara has been cultivated in Kerala for over 2,500 years. It is an inevitable item in many traditional Ayurveda treatments.

"Njavara Kizhi", a process by which heated 'njavara' is applied on the limbs affected by rheumatism, is an effective treatment. It is also a key ingredient for the therapeutic porridge consumed by people during monsoon season in the state.

Without the help of botanical experts, consumers could not identify the original variety by themselves, said Prof Leenakumari.

She also cited that Pokkali rice, another rice variety cultivated in water-logged areas, is sold widely under the label of Njavara rice. Though consumers can be cheated, experts can identify the original from its physical features itself.

While Pokkali rice has long, bold grains, Njavara has slim, slender and medium size grains, she said.

To ensure the authenticity and quality of the cereal, majority of the Ayurveda hospitals grow it in their own herbal gardens.

As part of the KAU project, five pure genetic varieties of Njavara had been identified.

Lavlin: Pinarayi granted bail

Kochi: State CPI(M) Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, arraigned as an accused in a graft case relating to awarding of contract to a Canadian firm during his tenure as Power Minister in 1998, was today granted bail by a CBI special court here.

Judge K P Jothindranath granted bail to Vijayan and directed him to furnish a bail bond of Rs two lakh and two sureties for the like amount.

Vijayan, accompanied by his counsel M K Damodaran, appeared before the court and sought bail. Heavy security arrangements were made at the court when Vijayan, accompanied by a host of party leaders, arrived.

CBI had filed a chargesheet listingVijayan as the seventh accused in the case relating to alleged corruption in awarding of contract to the Canadian company SNC Lavalin for renovation of three hydel projects in 1998.

The CBI special court had on June 23 issued summons to all the nine accused, including Vijayan, in the case, to appear before the court on September 24. Vijayan had failed to appear on medical grounds.

Lavalin official Claus Trendl and Lavalin company have not yet accepted the summons.

Five accused -- former principal secretary (Power) K Mohanachandran, former KSEB chairmen R Shivadasan and
Siddharta Menon, former chief engineer (Generation) Kasturiranga Iyer and former joint secretary (Power) A Francis
-- were earlier granted bail on a bond of Rs two lakh and two sureties for a like amount

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kerala gives laptop to 141 MLAs

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

All 141 legislators of the Kerala assembly were Tuesday given a brand new HCL laptop each.

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan handed over one laptop to Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy at the banquet hall of the state assembly.

It is yet to be decided if the legislators would be charged for the computers, speaker of the assembly K. Radhakrishnan told IANS.

"We have not decided on that. At the end of the tenure of this assembly, may be after allowing for depreciation, we might levy a small amount. That is yet to be decided," said Radhakrishnan.

The tenure of this assembly ends in May 2011.

Chandy said that the legislators should rise to the occasion and make use of this facility to serve the people better.

The laptops have not been loaded with the conventional proprietary software. Instead they have free software, of which Achuthanandan is the biggest brand ambassador.

"This is certainly going to be a problem because not many would be able to operate the free software," pointed out film star turned former minister and IT savvy legislator K.B. Ganesh Kumar.

Lavlin: Pinarayi likely to appear before CBI court

Kochi: CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan will appear before the CBI court on Wednesday. Pinarayi Vijayanis the ninthaccusedin the SNCLavalin case. The special CBI court will hear the case at 11 in the morning. The court had directed those who had not appeared before the court during the last hearing to appear before it tomorrow.

It is learnt that the second accused in the Lavlin case K G Rajashekaran, residing in New Delhi, will alsoappear before the court tomorrow.

Former principal secretary of the Electricity Board and the first accused K Mohanachandran, third accused and former chairman of the Electricity Board R SIvadasan, fourth accused and former chief engineer Kasturiranga Iyer, fifth accused and former chairman of the Board Sidhartha Menon, had all appeared before the special court on September 24 and sought bail. It was the Lavlin company officials and Pinarayi Vijayan who had refused to appear.

President concerned about alcoholism in Kerala

December 29, 2009

Kochi: President Pratibha Patil on Monday expressed concern about alcoholism in Kerala, while she praised the numerous social advances the state has made.

Speaking at the inauguration of the National Conference of All India Federation of Women Lawyers in Kochi, she said it was significant that this event was being held in Kerala, a state which has to its credit women who have made remarkable achievements in the legal field.

"It is a state where the female population is over 51 per cent and the literacy rate of females is 88 per cent, the highest in India. However, I am surprised to learn that in spite of this, alcoholism is rampant and women are the worst sufferers. Similarly, I am told that the dowry system persists and continues to be a major problem here," Patil said.

She was speaking of alcoholism at a time when the state is heading for the highest ever sales of liquor for the month of December -- expected to cross Rs 450 crore ($9 million).

According to figures provided by Kerala State Beverages Corporation, the sole wholesalers of liquor in the state, the total sales for this fiscal is expected to be in excess of Rs 5,300 crore, up from Rs 4,631 crore in the last fiscal.

Concluding her inaugural speech Patil expressed concern about the debilitating effect of alcoholism and drug addiction on individuals, families and societies.

"I particularly call upon women and the youth of the country to take up the challenge to eliminate these social evils and work towards changing social attitudes and social mindsets. I believe that women have great potential to bring about change in society and that is why I am asking them to take the lead. This will bring peace, prosperity and a sense of well-being in society," said Patil.

Patil has been in Kochi since Sunday and left for New Delhi immediately after the inauguration of the conference.

Kozhikode twin blasts: Key accused held

Kochi: Yousuf, the key accused in the Kozhikode twin blasts case, was arrested by the special team of police, probing the explosion at the Ernakulam collectorate.

Yousuf, hailing from Chettipadi near Parappanangadi in Malappuram, brought the explosives used for the blasts and planted itin the clock room of the KSRTC bus station, police said.

The police will hand over Yousuf, a close aide of suspected LeT agent Thadiyantavida Naseer, to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case in the back drop of the revelation of international links behind the blasts.

The blasts took place in Kozhikode at the KSRTC bus station and Moffusil bus stand on 3rd March 2006 within the gap of 20 minutes around noon.

Friday, December 25, 2009

No breakthrough in Kerala IT project impasse

Thiruvananthapuram: Even as Smart City Dubai last week served an ultimatum to the Kerala government saying the proposed Rs.1,500-crore Smart City Kochi cannot be kept hanging 'endlessly', a board meeting ended Wednesday with differences of opinion continuing between the two partners.

Emerging from the hour-long meeting, Smart City Kochi chairman and State Fisheries Minister S. Sarma told reporters that talks would continue.

'You know there are differences of opinion between us and Smart City Dubai. The chief minister is out of station, and once he returns, we will brief him about what happened today and a date for another round of discussion would be decided,' said Sarma.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had in November 2007 laid the foundation stone for the mega IT park at Kochi -- to be built by Smart City Dubai -- which will come up on a 246-acre plot and is expected to create 90,000 jobs.

But since then, nothing has moved with differences cropping up over granting of 12 percent freehold rights to Smart City Dubai.

While the Dubai partner wants a written agreement that this would be given after the master plan is ready, the government is not ready to give inalienable rights to them.

Fareed Abdulrahman of Smart City Dubai, who is also Smart City Kochi chief executive, said his company wished to make it clear that it did not want freehold land immediately, but only after the master plan was prepared.

'We will make it happen, we will make it happen,' Abdulrahman said.

With both parties hopeful of resolving the issues, it now remains to be seen when the next meeting takes place.

KPCC should meet to discuss Murali issue: Karunakaran

hiruvananthapuram: Seeking to give a push for his son Muraleedharan's re-entry into the Congress, veteran party leader K Karunakaran today said the KPCC executive meeting should be convened soon to decide the issue. Speaking to reporters here, he said he had taken up the issue when Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala met him yesterday.

The nonagenarian leader had recently written to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, seeking her intervention to get Muraleedharan, a former KPCC President, re-admitted.

After his exit from Congress,Muraleedharan had joined NCP, but quit the party and has sought re-entry to the Congress. He also met party high command leaders in Delhi more than once and requested them to consider his plea.

Stating that he was not part of any group now, Karunakaran said he had asked both Chandy and Chennithala not to support any group in the party.

He termed as not true, Chennithala's comment that the Muraleedharan issue was not discussed at the meeting with him.

264,000 South Asians lost jobs in Gulf: Survey

Thiruvananthapuram: About 264,000 people from South Asia have lost jobs in the Middle-East on account of the global meltdown, city-based think tank Centre for Development Studies (CDS) has found.
Presenting the study here Monday, S. Irudayarajan and D. Narayana of CDS said the financial crisis that originated in the US impacted the Gulf Cooperation Council countries soon after.

'The impact of the global crisis on the Gulf Cooperation Council ( GCC) economies has been analysed in terms of sectors affected and changes in GDP growth and employment of expatriate labourers,' said Irudayarajan.

Study teams visited the six GCC countries and Malaysia to interview labourers as well as employers in various sectors.

It found that the global crisis affected the GCC economies by impacting oil prices, depressing property and equity prices, lowering investor confidence, and reversing of capital flows.

The study was funded by the Asian Development Bank, the overseas Indian affairs ministry, the central government and the state government's Department of Non-Resident Keralite Affairs.

It found out that the construction boom in GCC countries has come to a halt with 20-30 percent of bookings getting cancelled, the bulk of it in Dubai.

The phenomenal growth in employment over the past five or six years has come to a halt and about 40 percent of workers affected.

Expatriates did not leave in large numbers, the study noted, but added that there were salary cuts, freezing of increments, and scrapping of benefits and perks.

'We found that about 61,000 emigrants from Kerala have returned,' said Irudayarajan. 'Applying the methodology of the Kerala resurvey to South Asia as a whole, the return emigrants from the Gulf are estimated to be a maximum of 264,000.'

Ironically, the study said, despite the crisis and job loss, demand for expatriates continues in the Gulf as is evident from the outflow of migrant workers from South Asia.

Except for a 35 percent fall in numbers from India, the flows in 2009 are comparable to those in 2008. But the direction of flow has changed, with UAE attracting less number of labourers whereas there is hardly any change for Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unnithan suspended from Cong, says was trapped

Manjeri : Rajmohan Unnithan, a senior Congress leader in Kerala, was Monday given bail, a day after he was held allegedly for immoral trafficking. However, he was suspended from the Congress party pending further enquiry. The leader, however, insists he was trapped with a woman by ruling party activists and their allies.
Unnithan and the woman, who is said to be a Congress Seva Dal worker, were first confronted by locals Sunday night at a house here in Malappuram district. The woman hails from Kollam, Unnithan's hometown.

Police later took them into custody and subjected them to medical tests. After being kept in the police station for the night, both were taken before the Manjeri first class judicial magistrate, who granted them bail, officials said.

Unnithan is the general secretary of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee. The party has suspended him and initiated an inquiry into the incident.

After the bail, Unnithan told reporters he was trapped by activists of the People's Democratic
Party (PDP) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

'I was on my way to Bangalore and en route went to drop the lady who is an active Seva Dal worker. When i reached the home, a lot of PDP and DYFI workers collected around the house and started creating trouble. I only called the police. But they were demanding that TV channels be called,' Unnithan said.

'I have done no wrong and I believe in God. I will request my party to launch an inquiry into the episode. I am clean and have done no wrong,' added Unnithan.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Abdul Kareem told IANS that the two were charged with immoral trafficking.

'They were picked up last night (Sunday night) from a house. Today (Monday) the court has given them bail,' said Kareem.

As word spread that a senior Congress leader had been caught, members of the CPI-M youth wing began shouting slogans in front of the police station, demanding that immediate action be taken against Unnithan.

Kerala Cong leader held, suspended for ‘immoral act’

Dec 22, 2009
Thiruvananthapuram:Cong leader Unnithan held for 'indulging in immoral activity'

AICC member and prominent Congress leader in Kerala Rajmohan Unnithan was arrested on charges of alleged immoral activity at Manjeri in Malappuram district on Monday. Later, a local court granted him bail. Late in the night, Congress state president Ramesh Chennithala suspended Unnithan pending an inquiry by senior leader N P Moitheen.

Unnithan, known for his acerbic attack on rivals, was found along with a Congress Seva Dal activist in a house at Manjeri at 11 pm on Sunday. Local people, mainly comprising activists of CPM and People’s Democratic Party, cordoned off the house and informed the police.

Both were taken to the police station, where they were slapped with various sections of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act. Both Unnithan and the woman are from Kollam district. Unnithan said he was on his way to Bangalore to meet his son. The woman was picked up from her house in Kollam . “I had gone to the house at Manjeri only to drop her. She runs a tailor shop there. Senior Congress leaders should probe the incident, which was scripted by the CPM and PDP,” said Unnithan.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kerala’s terror trail

December 18th, 2009

With the exposure of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) in north Kerala and finger of suspicion pointing to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader and Islamist extremist Abdul Nasser Madani’s wife Sufiya, the politicians of Kerala are in a rush to prove their innocence. Nasir Tadiyandavede and his brother-in-law Shafaz Shamsuddin are both from Kannur in Kerala and are accused of carrying out the July 25, 2008 Bengaluru serial blasts with funding and instructions from the LeT.

Remember how the same politicians, in almost one voice, had moved the Kerala Assembly to ask the Tamil Nadu government to release the same Madani from Coimbatore prison where he was facing trial in the serial bombing case of 1998, set up to assassinate the BJP leader, Mr L.K. Advani. When finally Madani was able to win acquittal in the case, the same leaders from both the Left Front and the Congress made a beeline to the airport to receive him and even gave him a public reception.

After cosying up to the PDP leader in the May general elections, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and Kerala home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan staged a protest and declared that his department would not interfere with the ongoing police investigations into Sufia Madani’s alleged role in various terrorist activities.

The lady has sought anticipatory bail as the Kerala police was closing in upon her for allegedly directing the Tamil Nadu bus burning in Kalamassery, Kerala.

T. Nasir, yet another alleged kingpin in the terror machine, now held between the Karnataka and Kerala police on suspicion of multiple roles in the serial bombing incidents in Bengaluru and the detailed plans to blow up several places in Kerala and elsewhere, has turned out to be a major LeT operative in the state.

He has confessed to receiving funds from Pakistani agencies. Nasir had been the key LeT operative recruiting Muslim youngsters from Kerala to join the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian security forces, after gunning down five infiltrators in Jammu and Kashmir, busted the LeT activity that had been on for years, especially in Kannur in north Malabar — hotbed of the Communists where CPI(M) cadres have killed several RSS, Congress and other political workers.

In Kerala politics, the CPI(M) had long been suspected of supporting Islamic radicals. The revelations of Nasir only strengthen those suspicions.

Nasir’s activities for the LeT were widespread. He recruited young people for militancy in Kashmir. He conducted camps at many places where young people from his community were brainwashed and even trained in arms and bomb-handling.

For some years this went on and the Kerala police had little hint about them. When the police managed to locate Nasir after he conducted a camp at Vakathanam, near Kottayam in central Kerala, political interference prevented the police from following the trail.

The busting came only after four of the five militants killed in Kashmir were found to be from Kerala. The security forces there suspected that the fifth man had escaped. He was Jabbar, ultimately traced to Hyderabad.

The Central government’s instructions to the Kerala police to track this recruitment forced the Left Democratic Front state government to track down Nasir. He escaped while being led away by the police. Surely there was complicity at some level from powerful politicians that enabled him to escape from a posse of 100 policemen.

State home minister Balakrishnan now claims that he had informed the Research and Analysis Wing last April itself that Nasir had escaped to Bangladesh. The state home minister blames political rivals for drumming up a controversy over handling of terrorists.
In Kerala, the UDF and LDF are winning power and losing it by turn with clockwork regularity. It was during the UDF rule that Nasir-led terrorists burnt the Tamil Nadu bus to protest the Chennai government’s refusal to release Madani on parole from Coimbatore.

Many other terrorist acts took place during UDF rule. So, there is perhaps little to choose between the UDF and the LDF. Both are more concerned with their vote banks among Muslims rather than public safety against terror attacks.

Nasir was finally located in Bangladesh. The charges against this LeT operative are many. He is accused of not only recruiting for the militant cause but also actively helping militant activity in India. His most daring act was to steal 200 kg of ammonium nitrate, a potent bomb-making material, from an Alwa-based explosives shop. This material was used to fuel several bomb attacks in Kerala, Bengaluru, as well as in other cities.

Another mystery behind the whole series of events is that the explosives shop owner who had reported the theft of ammonium nitrate etc from his shop soon withdrew his complaint. The Kerala police also did not pursue the case effectively. Who was behind this complete lack of responsible behaviour on the part of the security forces is a matter to be found out. Sources say if this is investigated, further linkages of Pakistan-based terror organisations with some key Kerala politicians would be exposed.

Where does this cascade of revelations and finding of large quantities of explosive material lead to? Kerala, especially the Muslim-concentrated northern part of it, was yet another breeding ground of terror with organic linkages to LeT in Pakistan and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) in Bangladesh. The same part of Kerala is also a pocket borough of the CPI(M).

The CPI(M) might now declare itself untainted by terror and communal extremism. But the finger of accusation and mound of evidence point as much to it as they do to Madani and Nasir and a host of others. The prevalence of this politician-extremist-linked fifth column within — Kannur, Hyderabad, Azamgarh, the trail goes to Kashmir — forms a huge question mark before the country.

Lavlin case: Government submits affidavit in SC

New Delhi: Kerala Government submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court against the Governor's decision to allow prosecution in the SNC Lavalin graft case.

According to the affidavit, Governor's decision to sanction the prosecution of CPM State secretary Pinarayi Vijayanis unconstitutional as it was against the Government's recommendation.

Chief Secretary K Jayakumar represented for the government in the court submitted the affidavit, which justifies the government's stand in the case. Government took the decision after seeking the legal advice from advocate general and examining the documents of CBI. Howewer, Governor's action was against the recommendation of Government, said in the affidavit.

Sabarimala income goes up

Sabarimala: of the Sabarimala temple in Kerala has crossed Rs 62 crore with the two-month long pilgrimage season half way through, which is higher than the proceeds in the corresponding period last year.

Revenue through various sources stood at Rs 62.69 crore as on December 18, against Rs 54.50 crore in the corresponding period last year, accordingto a temple release.

Proceeds from distribution of 'aravana prasadam' (a delicacy) marked the highest source of revenue at Rs 27 crore.

The temple has been witnessing heavy rush of devotees in the last one week.

The first phase of the mid November-December pilgrimage season would culminate with the 'Mandala Pooja' on Dec 26.

The temple will reopen after a few days' recess for the Makaravilakku season, which would conclude on the eve of the 'Makarasamkranthi' on January 14.

Kalamassery bus burning: SIT to leave for Coimbatore

Kochi: Special Investigation Team, which is probing the Kalamassery bus burning case, will go to Coimbatore for further enquiry. The team led by Assistant Commissioner P M Varghese will Sunday leave forCoimbatore based on the statements made by Soofiya Madhani, who is in the judicial custody now.

The team will examine whether Abdul Nasar Madhani, who was in Coimbatore jail in connection with the Coimbatore blast case, used mobile in jail. The SIT will also take statements from the jail officials who were employed there while Madhani was serving his term.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Machinery for instant extraction of coir fibre developed

Kochi: A mobile machinery for instant extraction of coir fibre from green husk has been developed by the Coir
Board's Central Coir Research Institute,thus paving the way for higher utilisation of coir fibre in Kerala, besides
considerably reducing its cost.

Intended to revolutionise the highly labour intensive and export oriented industry, the machinery underwent successful
trial run before a large gathering, including Board members, exporters and other stake holders of the industry at the
institute premises yesterday, a Coir Board press release said.

Board Chairman, V S Vijayaraghavan, who inaugurated the trial run, said its commercialization was bound to
revolutionise the industry already affected by shortage coupled with mountingcost of fibre,arising out of the
non-availability of adequate quantities of green husks in Tamil Nadu and unprecedented export of coir fibre to China.

Vijayaraghavan said the new machinery would be a boon to the industry which was facing shortage of manpower due to its
comparatively low wage structure. The equipment would be subjected to extensive field trials before its commercial
launch, he added.

Institute director Dr U S Sarma said the new defibering process considerably reduced the fibre cost from rs 15 to Rs 9
per kg. It could also be easily transported to rural areas.

The CCRI has also developed a new technology for speedier processing of the brown fibres within four hours by spraying
an eco-friendly conditioner on the fibre to make it softer and spinnable.PTI

CPM’s electoral partner a terrorist: Kerala govt

18 Dec 2009,

NEW DELHI: CPM-led Kerala government on Thursday did a political U-turn and described Soofiya Madani, wife of its ‘ally’ in the last Lok Sabha election, Abdul Nassar Madani, as someone with links to dreaded terror outfits.

The Kerala government, which opposed Soofiya’s bail plea in the Kalamasseri bus burning case, told the high court that the government cannot be lenient towards people connected with terror groups. Within minutes of the HC rejecting her bail plea, the state police arrested Soofiya.

The prosecution had told the HC that Soofiya was among the choreographers of the bus burning incident carried out by a group led by Thadiyantevide Nazir, the arrested South Indian commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba. “She was passing on instructions to Abdul Rahim, Majeed Parambai and Sabeer Tajudeen. A day after the bus burning incident, Soofiya had told Tajudeen to follow the instruction of Thadiyantevide Nazir.

Justice K T Sankaran stated that there was prima facie evidence of her involvement in the terror activity. He said there was evidence pointing to the petitioner (Soofiya) waging war against the country. The development is a major embarrassment for CPM, which had associated with Madani in the Muslim-dominated areas of the state in the Lok Sabha elections. CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan virtually forced the central leadership to endorse the association with PDP. Chief minister V S Achuthanandan and allies like CPI were opposed to seeking the help of PDP.

The chief minister used the revelations against Soofiya to assert that the decision of the party to cooperate with PDP was a mistake. “Even the relationship that was there in the past with PDP should not have taken place,” Mr Achuthanandan said.

Madani's wife held for suspected Lashkar links

PTI 17 December 2009

KOCHI: Soofiya Madani, wife of PDP leader Abdul Nasser Madani, was on Thursday arrested from her residence shortly after the Kerala High Court dismissed her anticipatory bail application in connection with the burning of a Tamil Nadu bus in the state in September 2005.

Soofiya was named as the tenth accused by the Kerala police recently after the interrogation of suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba militant T Nazir, who was picked up by the Bangladesh Rifles along with an associate and handed over to Indian security agencies.

Her arrest came as Justice K T Sankaran dismissed her bail plea stating that, prima facie, there was evidence that terrorism took place and there were serious allegations against the petitioner of waging war against the country.

Within minutes of the verdict, she was arrested and taken away amid slogans raised in her support by PDP activists, according to police.

Soofiya was listed as an accused in the case a week ago. Assistant Commissioner of Police P M Varghese, who heads the investigation, filed a report in the Aluva Judicial First Class magistrate court today listing her as accused.

Though police had served her notice twice on December 9 and 10, she had refused to appear before police.

Justice Sankaran said in his order that narrow political consideration should be kept aside and the state was bound to protect the life and property of the people. Short and long term efforts to combat terrorism should be made by the government, the court said.

Security personnel were deployed in front of Soofiya's residence following the verdict. Soofiya, who was in Kollam, had arrived here early today since her anticipatory bail plea was coming up before the High Court.

The accused approached the High Court on December 11, the day she was listed as an accused, seeking an interim direction to police not to arrest her but the court rejected her plea.

According to Soofiya, she had been questioned by police several times and no material evidence was found against her.

A Tamil Nadu bus was torched allegedly by PDP activists at Kalamaserry near here in September 2005 during a protest against continued detention of Abdul Nasser Madani in connection with the 1998 Coimbatore bomb blasts which left 58 persons dead and over 200 others injured. Madani was later acquitted by the trial court.

Kerala politician's wife held for LeT links

17 Dec 2009
The Kerala High Court today rejected the anticipatory bail plea and arrested Soofiya Madani, wife of PDP leader Abdul Nasser Madani, who has been listed as an accused in the burning of a Tamil Nadu corporation bus near Kochi in 2005. LeT South chief T Nazir is the prime accused in the case. Kerala police had traced a link between Soofiya Madani and T Nazir.

Nazeer was arrested along with his associate by the Bangladeshi Rifles and handed over to Indian security agencies recently. He is being questioned by police in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in connection with different terror-related cases, including the 2008 Bangalore bomb blast that claimed one life and injured several others.

Based on the statement of T Nazir, Madani's wife Soofiya has been named by Kerala police as an accused in the burning of a Tamil Nadu corporation bus near Kochi in 2005, during a protest against detention of Madani regarding Coimbatore bomb blast in 1998 that killed 58 and injured over 200 others.

Sufiya denied bail, arrest imminent

Kollam : The Kerala High Court Thursday rejected the bail plea of of Sufiya Madhani, who is accused in the Kalamassery bus burning case.

High Court, which began its hearing on the anticipatory bail plea of Sufiya Madhani on Thursday morning, gave its verdict in the evening.

In the wake of the court verdict, the arrest of Sufiya madhani, wife of PDP chairman Abdul Nasar Madhani, is imminent.

Thoughthe police are making elaborate preparations for the arrest, it is learnt that Sufiya, along with her close aides, had left her residence in the morning to Kochi. The police say that depending on the court verdict she will be arrested from wherever she is.

The Kerala Police had last week named Sufiya as the 10th accused and a notice was sent to her to appear before the police, but she failed to do so and filed for anticipatory bail.

Last week, the court posted the case for Monday, which deferred hearing of her anticipatory bail till Thursday.

Monday, December 14, 2009

HC deferrs anticipatory bail plea

December 14, 2009

The Director General of Prosecution did not oppose the request of the Petitioner
Decision on arrest depending on verdict

Kochi: The Kerala High Court deffered the anticipatory bail plea submitted by Soofia Madhani, wife of Abdul Nazar Madhani and the tenth accused in the Kalamassery bus burning case to the 17th of this month The verdict by the court assumes significance as a decision on arresting Soofia Madhani depends on the verdict. A new lawyer appeared for Soofiya today in the court and demanded more time to study the case. The Director General of Prosecution did not oppose the request and the court pointed out as a reason for upholding the request.

The govt informed the court that they cannot give guarantee that Soofiya could be omitted from arrest, till the case is settled. The counsel for Soofia Madhani had pleaded for an assurance in this matter. The counsel also informed the court that Soofia would appear before the investigating official on Tuesday, if an assurance on arrest is given.

CPI (M)-PDP nexus: BJP

December 14, 2009

Kannur: PK Krishnadas, BJP state president alleged that the arrest of Soofiya Madhani is being delayed because of the hidden nexus between CPI (M) and PDP. Accusing that there is political conspiracy behind the terror operations in the state, the BJP president demanded inquiry into thus aspect by a central agency.

Mr Krishnadas also urged that the role of Ommen Chandy and Pinarayi Vijayan regarding this should also be brought under the limit of inquiry.

Vijayan defends Maudany, Kerala police

13 December 2009

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan Sunday defended Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman Abdul Nazir Maudany, now under the police scanner for his links with alleged South India chief of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) T.Nazeer, as well as the state police's investigations.

It was Vijayan who was largely instrumental in roping in Maudany to campaign for the Left Democratic Front in the May 2009 Lok Sabha polls, much against the wishes of Chief Minister V.S.Achuthanandan, who refused to share the platform with the PDP chief.

"There was no agreement between the Left and the PDP. After the elections, our central committee found out that the sharing of the platform with the PDP did not do any good," said Vijayan but refused to criticise Maudany.

"Maudany, after being exonerated and released from the jail (2007)in the Coimbatore blast case, said that he is turning a new leaf and will not go the way he took prior to 1998. It was the Congress and their allies who sought Maudany's help in the 2001 assembly elections. Then he was an accused in the case. After they won the elections, leaders like Oommen Chandy went and visited Maudany in jail to thank him for the support," Vijayan said.

Complimenting the Kerala police for naming Maudany's wife Sufiya as an accused in the 2005 bus burning case, he said it was not the Karnataka police but the Kerala police which implicated Sufiya. Media persons contended before him that Kerala police were forced to name her after the Karnataka police had found out her links with Nazeer.

"Why did not the Congress government do anything in the bus burning case which happened in 2005 when they were in power? It was just because our government is committed to root out terror that a strong stand was taken," said Vijayan.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (CPI) state secretary Veliyam Bharghavan said with the exposure of links of PDP leaders with terror activities meant the Left was right in its stand to keep away from Maudany's party

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sreesanth suffers swine flu

India paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth has contracted swine flu and has been admitted to a hospital in Chandigarh for treatment.

Sreesanth, who made a comeback to international cricket after a gap of 18 months in the recently concluded Test series against Sri Lanka, was ruled out of the second Twenty20 game against Kumar Sangakkara's side on Saturday in Mohali due to what was believed to be a viral infection. Sreesanth had already missed the first Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka in Nagpur on Wednesday due to the same illness.

"Sreesanth was admitted to the Fortis Hospital and was seen by physician Dr Vikas Bhutani prior to admission," the Punjab Cricket Association said. "Due to persistent symptoms of cough, fever and body ache, a throat swab was sent for H1N1 (swine flu) testing."

He added: "The report was found to be positive and he was immediately put on medication.

"He will remain in the hospital for a day or two.

"He is recovering well and all his vital signs are normal."

It's still unclear if Sreesanth will miss any of the five matches in the one-day series which begins on Tuesday.

CPM regrets PDP link

New Delhi: The election alliance with PDP during the last parliametary election was a mistake, admitted CPI (M) Polit bureau member M.K Pandhe.

It was a big fault of CPM to share stage with PDP leaders during the election campaign. CPM will not make any electoral tie with PDP in future,party has taken steps to ensure it, Pandhe added.

Meanwhile, CPM minister P K Gurudasan said that the party will oppose PDP or any other organisation if they are proved to protect the terrorists. CPM had not shared stage with PDP. It can't be viewed as sharing of stage if the leaders of these two parties were seen together.

Search for more explosives in Kannur

Kannur: Police began search for the hidden explosives at Aayikkara near Kannur. Police conduct the search operation based on the information obtained from interrogation of suspected LeT terrorist Thadiyanatavida Naseer, who is under the custody of Bangalore police.

According tothe information obtained to the police, explosives are kept under water at Aayikkara harbour. Police officials have stopped the raid as they were waiting for the diving experts to come.

Thursday, Police recovered 1kg of Ammonium Nitrate from a house compound at Chairakkal following the revelation of Thadiyanatavida Naseer.

Banglaroe blasts : Five arrested in kochi

Kochi : A team of kerala and Karnataka police arrested five people in kochi for providing Naseer aid for blasts in Bangalore, the arrested are being interrogated. However, the Police did not mention who were arrested and the case was not yet filed.

Thearrested are accused of providing explosives for the Bangalore blasts. It is also assumed that Thadiyantavida Naseer collected explosives from a merchant at Perumbavoor. The accused terrorists, Thadiyantavida Naseer and Shafas will be bought to Kochi this evening for further Investigation.

Opposition in Kerala trying to spark controversy: Kerala Home minister

PTI - 11 December 2009

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan alleged that Congress led UDF Opposition in Kerala was trying to create controversy over the arrest of terror suspects T Nazir and Safaz.

Earlier also UDF had tried to 'save' persons involved in militant activities and divert people's attention from the real issue, Balakrishnan alleged in a statement here.

Eight cases in which Nazir was involved were pending in Kerala and out of this, four incidents connected with the case happened during UDF rule during 2001-2006. Three incidents occurred in LDF rule and another one was the conspiracy to kill former chief minister late E K Nayanar in 1999, he said.

Investigation into Nayanar's case was completed during the LDF rule, but UDF that came to power later failed to follow up the case, Balakrishnan charged.

UDF government even did not file charge sheet during its five year rule. It was the LDF government that came to power who filed charge sheet on September 23, 2006.

UDF campaigned that it was a concocted case and also took steps to withdrew the case, Balakrishnan said. It was due to freezing of the case against Nazir and Shafaz during UDF rule, they were able to carry out their activities, he alleged.

Balakrishnan wanted Opposition to desist from creating row over cases connected with terrorism and co-operate with the government in dealing with militants.

Terror suspect Nazeer is back

12 Dec 2009

KOZHIKODE: Thadiyantavide Nazeer and Shafaz, who are in the custody of the Karnataka police, were brought to Kannur from Bangalore as part of the investigation process. They are now lodged at an undisclosed place in Kannur with tight police security.

The two terrorists were brought from Bangalore by road, hoodwinking the mediapersons who flocked the Karipur airport following information that they were being brought to Kerala by air. Nazeer and Shafaz, accompanied by Karnataka police personnel, we re brought via Bavali check post in a convoy of four vehicles.

It is learnt that Nazeer will be taken to places like Kannur city where the conspiracy behind the Bangalore blasts was hatched and Chakkarakkal where the explosive substances were buried. The police recovered ammonium nitrate from the area following Nazeer's disclosure.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

C.M:Thachankary had not been sent by the government to Bangalore

09 Dec 2009

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The row over the deputing of IG Kannur-range Tomin Thachankary to Bangalore to quiz Thadiyantavide Nazeer has taken a fresh turn with the Chief Minister publicly airing his displeasure at the move.

Thachankary was backed by the Home Minister who said the deputation was done by the Home Department.

On the sidelines of a function to give away e-governance awards, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said that Thachankary had not been sent by the government to Bangalore.

"It is your duty to find out who sent him," he told reporters.

This comment was conveyed to Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who was holding a press conference at the same time in his chamber. "It is the Home Department which sent Thachankary to Bangalore," Kodiyeri told reporters.

"It is not necessary that a decision to send a police officer to another state for investigation be discussed in the Cabinet," he said.

The Home Minister accused the Opposition of destroying Thachankary's morale by raising such allegations.

He also alleged that the UDF was trying to torpedo the investigation as most of the terroristrelated incidents in the state had occurred during the UDF term.

Thachankary held sensitive posts during the the previous UDF term also, he said.

There are eight cases pending against Nazeer in the state, of which four are in Kannur. Hence Thachankary went to Bangalore.

Members of the special investigation team led by DIG Internal-Security T K Vinod Kumar have also gone to Bangalore. Vinod Kumar is in the US and will join the investigation as soon as he returns, Kodiyeri said. He said the SIT was only probing the case registered at the Edakad police station pertaining to recruitment of Malayali youths.

The state police had provided vital information to RAW in April 2009 regarding Nazeer's presence in Bangladesh, he said, terming baseless the allegations that Thachankary was sent to Bangalore to torpedo the probe.

Kodiyeri said that though Nazeer was held in 1999 in connection with the E K Nayanar murder attempt he absconded after getting conditional bail. The UDF had then alleged that it was a fabricated case, and the UDF govt that succeeded had not made any effort to trace Nazeer. The UDF had dismantled the anti-terrorist squad constituted by the Nayanar government, providing a congenial atmosphere for extremist organisations to grow. About ten extremistrelated incidents, including the Kalamassery bus burning and Kozhikode twin-blast, occurred during the UDF term, Kodiyeri said.

He asked why the UDF was averse to a CBI probe into the conspiracy angle of the Marad riot, as recommended by the Justice Joseph Thomas commission.

Kerala leaders fixing responsibility for rise of T Nazir

8 Dec 2009, ET Bureau

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While there is increasing concern about the sheer breadth of operations that Lashkar-e-Taiba may have established in Kerala, political leaders in the state have begun sparring over fixing responsibility for the startling rise of Lashkar-suspect Thadiyantavide Nazir as a key suspect in international terrorism.

Political point-scoring touched a new low today when chief minister VS Achuthanandan and home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan made discordant notes about the decision to send north zone IG Tomin Thachankary to Bangalore to question T Nazir.

While the chief minister said it was not the government that sent Mr Thachankary to Bangalore, the home minister said it was with the knowledge of the home ministry that the IG had gone to Bangalore.

The differing notes by the CM and the home minister come even as the opposition United Democratic Front and the BJP are critical of the manner in which the state government is going ahead with its probe into T Nazir’s suspected role in a number of terror incidents in the state in recent years.

BJP state general secretary MT Ramesh has accused the government of trying to avoid a probe that will expose links between T Nazir and People’s Democratic Party leader Abdul Nasser Madhani.

Earlier, UDF convenor PP Thankachan said the state government owed an explanation for its decision to send Mr Thachankary for questioning T Nazir instead of sending ATS chief DIG TK Vinod Kumar. UDF leaders say that the Left government cannot shirk its responsibility for having left Nazir off despite having nabbed him twice.

Nazir and his associate Shafas Shamsuddin who hail from Kannur are believed to have played key roles in a number of criminal activities in the state, and the former is also wanted in a murder case in the state. State police are hoping to get clues from the duo about a number of cases including the burning of a Tamil Nadu bus at Kochi, and an attempt on the life of former chief minister EK Nayanar.

More than that, the interrogation of the duo is expected to provide valuable leads into the extent of penetration that the LeT may have achieved in Kerala and the rest of the country.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nazeer came into Kerala police net twice: Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 6 (IANS) Kerala leader of opposition Oommen Chandy Sunday said arrested Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative T. Nazeer had reportedly come under the state police scanner twice but had been let off.

The former chief minister was criticising Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan for complaining that the state was not informed of Nazeer’s arrest.

Balakrishnan Saturday said the state government was not informed of the arrest of Nazeer and his accomplice at the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya early this week and called for the central government to improve intelligence sharing with the states.

Speaking to IANS, Chandy said this statement was “baffling” because reports indicated that Nazeer had been arrested – both times during the Left government’s tenure – but let off.

It is strange that Balakrishnan is blaming the centre for arresting Nazeer and not sharing the information with the state government. According to reports twice, Nazeer had come into the Kerala police net – once he appeared in a court and on another occasion in 2007, police had rounded him up,” he said.

Newspaper reports suggest that Nazeer was let off following pressure from the top,” said Chandy.

Nazeer and his accomplice, Shafaz, hail from Kannur district in the state and have been involved in a number of cases in the state, police say. Nazeer was allegedly involved in the 2005 terror attack on the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, in which a retired Indian Institute of Technology professor M.C. Puri was killed.

The statement of Balakrishnan blaming the centre that arrested Nazeer is a possible cover up because they did not do their job on two occasions. We are not interested in politicising this but we are certainly concerned about the security of the nation,” Chandy said.

A team of Kerala police officials is now in Bangalore where the two LeT suspects are now being kept and interrogated.

Nazeer has reportedly admitted that he was a member of the banned Islamic Sevak Sangh (ISS) and was later with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), both founded by Abdul Nazir Maudany.

Maudany is expected to be called up by the National Investigationg Agency (NIA) for questioning.

Meanwhile, a man, identified as Arif, was picked up by the police Friday from Kochi after it was found out that Nazeer reached Bangalore in a vehicle rented out by him.

Police are also on the look out for Arif’s friend Afsal.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Kerala's Headley nabbed thanks to Bangladesh

3 Dec 2009, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: South India’s terror kingpin and the alleged Lashker-e-Toiba mastermind behind last year’s Bangalore blasts, Tadiyantavide Nazeer, has landed in the custody of the Indian security agencies.

Thanks to some active help from the Bangladeshi authorities, Nazeer and his accomplice, Shamaz, were picked up by BSF from near the international border in Meghalaya.

The arrested will be handed over to Karnataka police for further investigations into the Bangalore serial blasts that left one woman dead and eight others injured. The interrogation of both Nazeer and Shamaz will help unravel the deep penetration of LeT in Kerala as well as other south Indian states. Nazeer is not only wanted for organising the serial bombings in Bangalore last year but also for supplying electronic circuits used by Indian Mujahideen to put together IEDs used in other strikes.

Nazeer, who hails from Kannur district of Kerala, is alleged to have recruited several Muslim youth from the state to volunteer for jihad training in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan.

Only last year, police and troops had shot dead four Kerala residents who were training with a Lashkar unit in the mountains above Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir. The four — Fayas, Fayis, Abdul Raheem and Muhammed Yasin — were later found to be linked to Bangalore blasts as well.

Nazeer was reportedly in regular touch with fugitive Indian Mujahideen commander Riyaz Shahbandri, also known as Riyaz Bhatkal. Bhatkal, wanted in several blasts cases, is believed to have fled to Karachi in 2008 in the wake of nation-wide police sweep that led to the arrest of several key Indian Mujahideen operatives.

Nazeer started out as a follower to former Islamic Sevak Sangh(ISS) leader and now PDP chief Abdul Nasser Madhani.

He then went on to dealing in fake currency minted in Pakistan, before graduating to level of a key recruiter of LeT cadres from south India. Besides several terror and murder cases, Nazeer is wanted for plotting to assassinate the then Kerala chief minister E K Nayanar to avenge the arrest of his leader Madhani.

Nazeer was also involved in planting a bomb at Coimbatore press club in 2002, besides the torching of a Tamil Nadu bus in Kochi in 2005 and the clandestine meetings of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India in Kerala in 2006 and 2007. The Kochi plan had the active backing of PDP.

Nazeer’s arrest by Indian agencies follows close on the heels of Dhaka’s crackdown upon some LeT-Huji leaders on its soil, based on a tip-off of their plans to target the US and Indian missions there. The police held several suspects involved in the plot during a raid on a seminary in the mountains near Chittagong. Shahidul Islam and Al-Amin, also known as Saiful, were held along with the influential Islamist cleric Mufti Harun Izahar.

Three Pakistani nationals allegedly linked to the Lashkar — Mohammad Munwar, Mohammad Ashraf Ali Zahid and Syed Abdul Qayyum — were also reportedly held following Mufti Izhar’s arrest. India believes funds for the assault on the diplomatic missions in Dhaka were despatched by Abdul Rehman Saeed, the Pakistan-based Lashkar commander responsible for managing its networks in Bangladesh.

Sources said that Nazeer was in fact netted by the Bangladeshi authorities as part of these raids, but, in order to avoid legal hassles in his extradition to India, he was escorted to the borders and quietly turned over to the BSF.

T Nazir, Shafas remanded for two weeks

Bangalore: Two suspected Lashker-e-Taiba militants T Nazir and Shafas, allegedly involved in the serial bomb blasts that rocked the city last year, were Saturday remanded to 14-days police custody by a local court here.

Police said the two were produced before a magistrate last night soon after they were brought here and also this morning.

The two were arrested along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya
and subsequently handed over by the Bangladesh Rifles to BSF on Wednesday. They were in Meghalaya police custody since then.

Nazir is the prime accused in the 2008 July bomb blasts that left one woman dead and twenty others injured and Shafas is also one of the accused.

Police said a senior police official of Inspector General rank from Kannur in Kerala is arriving here to assist the police in the questioning the duo, who speak Malayalam, Urdu and Hindi

NIA to investigate Kozhikode blast case

4 December 2009
New Delhi, Dec 4: The National Investigating Agency will take over the case relating to the Kozhikode double bomb blast case.

The Union home ministry has notified the decision to take over the investigations into the blast that happened on March 3, 2006.

This is the first time that a case from Kerala is being taken up by the NIA formed after the 26/11 Mumbai attack. An investigating team of the NIA will soon reach Kerala.

The case relating to the blast at Ernakulam collectorate will be investigated by the Kerala police. The centre had sought the opinion of the state government regarding this, but Kerala had informed NIA that since the investigations are on the final stage it will not be right to change the investigating agency.

NIA decided to take up the case after the role played by several Keralites in bomb blasts in several parts of the country became visible.

Debt-laden Dubai makes Kerala jittery

Dec 05, 2009

When the markets crashed in Dubai with the threat of Dubai World defaulting on its debt, the direct impact will perhaps be felt more in the southern state of Kerala as it sends hordes of workers to the Emirates, reports CNBC-TV18’s Naveen Nair.

Economists call Kerala a money order economy. Precisely for this reason that every third house in Kerala has a man working in the Gulf. It is this Malayali's dream to making it big in the Gulf that was in the line of fire when the markets tumbled in Dubai.

Finance Minister of Kerala, Thomas Isaac says, “Malayalis constitute a majority of the workers in Dubai. So, they are going to come back in large numbers. We will have to take certain measures to provide safety net to them. It is very much worrying. Lakhs will lose jobs and return and then it could be a social problem.”

And many workers who are home for Bakri -Eid holidays fear the worst when they go back.

Fatharuddin, Employed in the UAE, “We don’t know what the exact picture is since the government is keeping it a secret. There is no surety that our job will be there when we return.”

From among 50 lakh Indians who work in the gulf, The Malayali diaspora alone account for more than 20 lakh. And they bring in more than 25% of the state's GDP as remittance.

So if the markets crash in the Gulf, the direct impact will no doubt be on the economy of the state. Not just that the future of two of Kerala's multi-crore projects, the Smart City and the Vallarpadam Shipping Terminal is also uncertain as both have Dubai World as partners.

But some others are still optimistic that the sun will never set on Dubai.

Overseas Indian Affairs Minister, Vayalar Ravi says, “I am not expecting a serious adverse impact on the Indian economy over Indian workers. This is just a continuation of what struck the Wall Street. There isn’t anything to panic. There will not be any exodus at this point in time. I am sure in two to three weeks time, things will normalise.”

Amidst all the fear and insecurity there is still hope because not many people have returned from the Gulf saying they have lost their jobs. But if the crisis deepens in Dubai World, it could very well be the case. That could very well leave the state's economy in complete ruins in the coming months.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cruise liner for Indian tourists flagged off

Kochi: Union Tourism Minister Kumari Selja launched a cruise liner, MV Aquamarine which is targeted at Indian tourists, here Tuesday.
The vessel is owned by the Cyprus-headquartered Louis Cruises, the fifth largest cruise operator in the world that started its Indian operations earlier this year with Kochi as its home port.

Maintaining that cruise tourism had a vast scope in the country, Selja said: 'The country's strong domestic tourism sector and growing middle class and of course, the 7,517-km long coastline are the advantages.'

MV Aquamarine has a capacity to carry 1,200 passengers and will offer itineraries on the Kochi-Maldives-Kochi and the Kochi-Colombo-Kochi routes, in addition to a one-night high sea sailing itinerary.

Louis Cruises India managing director Oneil Khosa said the two-night, three-day itineraries to Maldives and Sri Lanka are ideal for Indians as they are not inclined towards long sailing.

Packages start from Rs.5,000 per person
per day for a three-night tour package.

Kerala Tourism has tied up with the company to market and promote cruise tourism from Kochi.

Kerala Tourism director M. Sivasankar said the venture would be a unique product for the Indian market, which is craving for new experiences.

'This new development will make Kochi as a cruise hub and destination,' said Sivasankar.

Kochi will be MV Aquamarine's home port from Dec 2 to April 25, 2010. The vessel will make the debut voyage Wednesday from Kochi to the Maldives.

Around 60,000 Indian tourists are expected to cruise on MV Aquamarine this season.

Besides 525 state rooms and suites, passengers will also get to enjoy world class facilities including restaurants, a swimming pool, fitness centre, massage and sauna facilities, a casino and duty free shopping.

The vessel has also been modified to include a cricket pitch -- giving Indian travellers the experience of playing the game on the high seas.

Nazir arrest: Police hopeful of breakthrough in terror probe

Kozhikode: The arrest of T Nazir, alleged to have masterminded a series of subversive activities, including recruitment of youths from Kerala to Lashkar-e-Taiba outfit, would provide a major breakthrough in the ongoing probe into series of terror related cases in the state, police said.

The Kerala Police was trying to get the custody of Nazir to resolve the series of terror related cases, Inspector General of Police (North) Tomin J Thachankary told PTI here today.

Nazir, also allegedly involved in the 2005 IISc Bangalore attack, was arrested along with another LeT suspect along the Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya.

had allegedly masterminded a major terror network from Kerala by recruiting youths from the state and sending them to PoK for training.

Nazir had also plotted the twin bomb blasts at two major bus stations in the crowded Mavoor Road in Kozhikode in October 2003 in which two persons, including a police constable sustained injuries.

His alleged involvement in the blasts cropped up based on information provided by Halim, a native of Kannur, who was
arrested in connection with the District Collectorate bomb blast in Ernakulam earlier this year.

A Special Investigation Team had been formed to probe the terror related cases in Kerala. PTI

Terror mastermind T. Nazir held

4 December 2009

New Delhi: In a prize catch for security agencies, wanted terrorist T Nazir, allegedly involved in the 2005 IISc Bangalore attack and in sending Muslim youth from Kerala for militant training in PoK, was arrested along the Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya.

The arrest, which apparently came following a joint operation by BSF, central security agencies and Bangladesh Rifles, was expected to solve many terror cases which include the 2005 attack at the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc) in Bangalore that left an IIT professor dead.

Nazir, hailing from Malappuram district in Northern Kerala, was being wanted by the security agencies to unravel the conspiracy behind sending Muslim youth from his district to Kashmir and for further militant training to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Nazir was arrested along with another suspected militant Shamas after intelligence was shared about their presence in Bangladesh, official sources said. Union Home Secretary G K Pillai said two suspected Lashker operatives were detained along the Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya and "we are trying to find out their antecedents and links and their activities."

The duo was being interrogated by a combined team of the BSF and central security agencies, the sources said, adding Bangalore police had already sent a team to take Nazir's custody.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Colourful start to Kerala shopping festival

02 Dec 2009

Kannur: The Grand Kerala Shopping Festival got off to a colourful start with a variety of entertainment and cultural programmes at the Municipal Jawahar Stadium here on Tuesday.

Inaugurating the festival, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said that the government was planning to make trade a strong force in the development of the state. He said that the planners had overlooked the importance of trade in the development process over the years. The Grand Kerala Shopping festival was designed to turn Kerala into a major shopping destination of the world, he said.

Thomas Isaac said that the government had visualised several schemes for marketing the traditional products of the state. A handloom village would soon come up at Azhikkal in the district here and the visitors to the village would get the opportunity to meet the weavers directly and ask the latter to produce handloom items of their choice. The government has also initiated steps to revive the Weekly fair at Kodungallur, he said.

Kerala police mistaken for robbers, roundly thrashed

Mission to pawnbroker’s house turns nightmarish as wife’s yells bring in neighbours

Bangalore: Little did a four-member Kerala police team anticipate what was in store for them when they rapped on the doors of a pawnbroker in the city early on Tuesday while tracking stolen goods.

The pawnbroker’s wife, who later said she mistook the plainclothesmen for robbers, raised a hue and cry, startling the neighbourhood on Jain Temple Street in Bharathinagar.

Some 20 locals rushed in, rained blows on the policemen and pelted stones at them, injuring three of the four-member team and damaging their cars.

The incident, which took place at 5.10 a.m., forced the Kerala police to beat a hasty retreat, though they have not filed any complaint.

Kochi burglary

So what led them to the unfortunate predicament? According to the city police, a magistrate’s house in Kochi was burgled way back in 2005 and the suspects, Suhail Pasha and Taukeer from Bangalore, got away with booty worth several lakh rupees, which they allegedly sold to Nirmal Kumar Bora of Jain Temple Street.

About a month back, the city police nabbed Suhail here. During interrogation, he reportedly revealed his alleged involvement in burglaries in Kochi and other parts of Kerala.

Later the city police handed him over to the Kerala police for further investigation.

On the basis of information provided by Suhail, the Kerala team arrived here Monday evening, an officer of the Bharthinagar police station said.

When they turned up around 5 a.m. on Tuesday to search the house of Mr. Bora, who allegedly bought stolen property from Suhail and Taukeer, Mamatha, the lady of the house, greeted them and told them that Mr. Bora was away.

Even before the Kerala police could proceed, Ms. Mamatha went berserk, yelling for her neighbours, said the officer quoting the Kerala police.

“Instead cooperating, she created an uproar and provoked her neighbours to attack us. She also egged them on to pelt stones at our vehicles,” a Kerala police officer reportedly told the Bharthinagar police.

“But so far we have not received any formal complaint from the Kerala police,” Bharthinagar Police Inspector K.R. Ganesh told The Hindu.

Meanwhile, in her statement to the police, Ms. Mamatha is understood to have said she had mistaken the plainclothesmen for robbers

Sabarinath and friends remanded

Thiruvananthapuram: Thiruvananthapuram Judicial Magistrate Court has sent Sabarinath and his friends, who were arrested on the charges of immoral trafficking, to remand for two weeks.

Fort police caught Sabarinath along with his friends Alan Sebastionand Abhilash Surendran from Sabarinath's residence in Kalady Monday as they were spotted them with a girl under suspicious circumstance.

The police have registered a case following the petition filed by the girl's father. The accused were charged with abduction of a minor girl for sexual exploitation.

Sabarinath, who was the main accused in Total4U money swindling case, was released on parole last week.

Bangalore terror suspects arrested from Banladesh

New Delhi: Bangladesh Rifles Wednesday handed over two suspected Lashker-e-Taiba militants, believed to be involved in the 2005 Bangalore terror attack at the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc) that left an IIT professor dead.

Police in Shillong said, T Nazir alias Nazir Paryan (33)and Shafiquq alias Shasaz Samsuddin (25), hailing from Kerala, were caught by the Bangladesh police on their soil.

Union Home Secretary G K Pillai said two suspected Lashker operatives were detained along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya and 'we are trying to find out their antecedentsand links and their activities.'

The duo was being interrogated by a combined team of the BSF and central security agencies, the sources said.

On December 28, 2005, terrorists barged into the prestigious IISc campus and opened fire indiscriminately killing retired professor of IIT Delhi, M C Puri, and injuring four others.

Puri, Professor Emiratus of Mathematics Department of IIT Delhi, fell a victim as the gunmen sprayed bullets from an AK-47 rifle as delegates attending an international conferencewere proceeding for dinner outside the J N Tata Auditorium.

Recession leaves 37000 Kerala expats jobless: Study

Thiruvananthapuram: At least 37,000 emigrants from Kerala have lost jobs overseas because of the global recession, says a report released Tuesday by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), a city-based think tank.

The study, titled 'Impact of Global Recession on Kerala Emigrants: Unemployment, Return Migration and Remittances', was conducted by demographers K.C. Zachariah and S. Irudaya Rajan and funded by the state government's Non-resident Keralites Affairs Department.

Zachariah, while presenting the findings of the study, said most non-resident Malayalees returned for reasons not related to recession.

'We estimate that the number of emigrants who returned due to recession would at most be 63,000. This number could be as small as 37,000 also,'the study noted.

About 173,000 emigrants from Kerala returned home between October 2008 and June 2009.

Interestingly, 142,000 new emigrants reached Middle East on employment visas apart from another 97,000 people who had worked in the region earlier and again got jobs in the Gulf on fresh employment visas.

The report said 53 percent of unemployed emigrants are from the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia accounts for about 14 percent, Kuwait 6 percent, and Oman and Bahrain account for 4 percent each.

Irudayarajan said cash remittances to the state rose seven percent during the period under study.

'This is quite an unexpected result. Recession is supposed to decrease remittances, not increase it,' he told.

According to Irudayarajan, remittances could have increased as some emigrants were returning home permanently bringing with them all their accumulated wealth.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mohanlal honored with Chithira Thirunnal Award Monday, November 30, 2009

Lt.Col.Padmasree Mohanlal With His Highness Sri Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma

Lieutenant Colonel Padmashree Bharath Mohanlal is honored with the Chithira Thirunnal Award. The award was presented to him by the Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor in Thiruvananthapuram.

Buzz up!The award is organized in the memory of the Travancore King, and is instituted by Sree Chithira Thirunnal Trust. The award includes a cash prize worth one lakh and a citation. Mohanlal said that he is very much obliged to receive the award that is in the name of a legendary king.

'No fixed term for CPM state secretary'

Monday,30 November 2009
Thiruvananthapuram: A senior leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) Sunday said the party's 'rectification document' prepared to reverse its electoral slides and strengthen cadre base does not limit the state units chief's term to three years.

T.Sivadasa Menon, a veteran CPM leader and party secretariat member, said no such decision has been taken.

"There is not a mention of such a thing in the document because such a decision just cannot be taken by the central committee of the party. It can be done only through an amendment at the party congress," said Menon at a meeting organised by the party mouthpiece Deshabhimani.

Reports of this surfaced soon after the party top brass met in Delhi in October and gave the nod for initiating a "rectification campaign" to overcome shortcomings within its ranks.

Speculations soon began that a cap on number of terms for state party secretary was put to take out Pinarayi Vijayan, who has been the CPM Kerala secretary since 1998.

Kerala wants Centre to compensate Gulf returnees

New Delhi, Nov. 28

Fearing a large influx of laid-off workers from Dubai, the Kerala Government has sought Central aid for compensating them. The Kerala Finance Minister, Dr T.M. Thomas Isaac, told Business Line that the State will be seriously hit even if around 50,000 workers return.

There are over 2 million people in the Gulf from Kerala. Around 4.5 million Indians are living and working in the Gulf. Remittances from the Gulf account for a quarter of the State's domestic product.

“Our Government has already announced an Rs 100-crore loan corpus from the Kerala Financial Corporation at an affordable interest rate for potential entrepreneurs among the Gulf returnees,” Dr Isaac said. “A flat interest rate of 7 per cent will be valid through out the period of the loan for such potential entrepreneurs,” the Minister said. He said the Kerala Government has already allocated a welfare fund of Rs 10 crore, adding that there is a Budgetary provision regarding the same.

Though the Centre had proposed a ‘return and resettlement scheme' for the returnees, such a scheme would not work as it is contributory in nature, Dr Isaac said.

“People moving to the Gulf for work spend around Rs 2 lakh just to get there. Since most of them are lowly paid, especially following the financial crisis, it takes around 2-3 years to recoup their investment. Therefore, the Centre's package for Gulf returnees should allocate greater compensation for workers whose duration of stay there is short, and comparatively lesser compensation for those who have managed to stay and work there for a longer period of time,” Dr Isaac said.

The Minister said the feedback he has received from Keralites in the Gulf, including some prominent businesspersons, was that the Gulf region would be severely affected in the short-term due to the Dubai debt crisis and it could spill over to India as well. He said apart from workers returning from the Gulf due to job loss, some important projects in Kerala that were funded by Gulf money - including the Smart City project near Kochi and Vallarpadam International Container Trans-shipment Terminal near Kochi - may find it difficult to raise money.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dubai World debt worries kins of expats

27 November 2009

New Delhi, Nov 27: The $59-billion debt woes of state-run Dubai World, one of the largest global conglomerates, has left thousands of Indian families worried, as the region accounts for half of the country's $25-billion remittances.

Gulf countries employ five million Indians, out of the 25 million total strength of the Indian diaspora in 130 countries, and Dubai being a key driver of the region's economy, a shakeout there is seen unsettling the job market -- and the incomes of relatives.

"The Middle East meltdown has been there for the past one year. People have been coming back to India for the past one year," said E. Balaji, director of a leading headhunting firm, Ma Foi Management Consultants.

"Now, there will be at least 25-percent contraction in the job market. There may be a ripple effect on most Middle East countries because of Dubai World bust," Balaji, whose company is part of the Netherlands-based Randstad group, told IANS in Chennai.

Former governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Y.V. Reddy also expressed concern over the prospect of Indians employed in the Gulf losing their jobs. "Much would depend on its impact on the real economy there and employment," he said.

"It's one thing if property prices or share prices come down. That will affect only one section of people. But how's it going to affect the living conditions, employment, real economic activity in those countries where we are employed?" queried Reddy.

Said K.T. Thomas, a retired state government employee in Changanacherry in Kottayam: "My son doesn't work in Dubai. He is in Sharjah. But things are not particularly good there either. He called me this morning. He is really worried about his job."

"We have this loan we have taken to build two more floors at our house. If my son is unable to send money, it will be impossible to repay the loan with my meagre pension," Thomas said, sounding despondent like many other relatives of Indian expatriates in the Gulf.

In Andhra Pradesh, which accounts for the largest share of remittances from the Gulf after Kerala, the realty industry feel there is an underlying worry that the Dubai World episode may just be the tip of the iceberg.

"Things might go from bad to worse when the Dubai companies announce their financial results in December and January," said A. M. Imran, a real estate dealer in Dubai, currently on vacation in Hyderabad. "Many more could lose jobs," Imran told IANS.

Analysts, nevertheless, maintained that while the future plans of Dubai World in India may be affected, the existing ones may not suffer much. These projects include:

Full ownership of the container terminal in Chennai

A joint venture with Bharat Hotels for five-star properties

A venture with Tata Realty and Infrastructure for logistics parks

Ownership of international container terminal near Kochi

A $12-billion realty project near Bangalore with DLF to house 750,000 people

Interests in Kulpi port project near Kolkata

Pact with Tata Strategic Management Group for consultancy outsourcing

Major stake in Nhava Sheva container terminal near Mumbai

-Major stake in Mundra international container terminal near Kandla

Major stake in Visakhapatnam port in Andhra Pradesh

Dubai World's default won't hit us: Kochi port

27 November 2009

Kochi, Nov 27: A debt default request by Dubai World will not affect the ongoing construction of the international container terminal near here, being funded by one of the subsidiaries of the Dubai firm, the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) said Friday.

Hit by mounting debts, the state-run holding firm of Dubai that manages several businesses of the emirate Wednesday asked creditors for an extension of six months for debt repayments.

DP World, a subsidiary of Dubai World, is funding the Rs.2,118-crore ($451-million) International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam near here, which, according to CPT, is "fast nearing completion".

"This is news to me that Dubai World faces financial problems. Here, the work is progressing smoothly as there's no crisis for funding from DP World," CPT chairman N. Ramachandran told IANS.

The first phase of the terminal will be completed as per schedule and commissioned April 1 next year, Ramachandran said.

DP World signed the agreement with CPT in 2005 to develop the terminal.

The company is building the 1,800-metre long, 14.5-metre deep container berth, while the basic infrastructure like roads and railway lines will be built by CPT.

"The construction began in 2007 and till today work has gone well with no problems at all. According to initial estimates, the budget for the first phase is around Rs.1,500 crore, but it is likely to go up," Ramachandran said.

"The developer has informed us that the work for second and final phase will begin after the inauguration of the first phase, and they expect to complete it in two years."

ICTT, billed as the country's first global hub terminal, is expected to alter the development map of the state and attract huge investments, government officials said.

A series of ventures including a Rs.1,600-crore LNG terminal, a port-based special economic zone (Rs.1,510 crore) and an international ship repair complex (Rs.315 crore), is also coming up in the area along with the ICTT project.

Dubai shock waves shake London stock market

London: The London Stock Exchange felt the shock waves of the Dubai World debt moratorium call Thursday, with the FTSE 100 index dropping 3.2 percent.

Banking shares were particularly hard-hit as the index closed at 5,194.13 points, down almost 171 points from Wednesday's 5,364.81

Barclays and the nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland both fell almost 8 percent in Thursday's trading, which was also interrupted for some three hours by a technical breakdown. It was the second such major technical breakdown within 14 months

Dubai World crisis bad for Kerala

November 27th, 2009

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 27 - Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, a former economics professor at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) here, Friday said the $59-billion debt woes of state-run Dubai World will hit the state’s economy.

“This is certainly going to hit the Middle East, which means this is bad news for Kerala. Anyway, it is early days yet but we will have to closely watch the situation,” Isaac told IANS.

“Initial indication is that what happened in Dubai is a real estate collapse and one has to wait and see how they tackle it,” he added.

The financial woes at Dubai World, one of the largest global conglomerates, has left thousands of Indian families worried, as the region accounts for half of the country’s $25-billion remittances.

Gulf countries employ five million Indians, out of the 25 million total strength of the Indian diaspora in 130 countries, and Dubai being a key driver of the region’s economy, a shakeout there is seen unsettling the job market — and the incomes of relatives.

For Kerala, the Middle East too has been the backbone of its economy for close to three decades now.

A CDS study says the number of emigrants from the state went up from 1.84 million in 2003 to 2.19 million last year, while remittances shot up from Rs.18,400 crore to Rs.43,300 crore.

The United Arab Emirates accounts for the largest share of Kerala migrants.

According to the study by the CDS — an autonomous research institute — remittances from expatriates was the single-most dynamic factor in driving the otherwise dismal economic scenario of Kerala between 1975 and 2000.

The Dubai crisis comes at a time when Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has challenged the financial health of Dubai-based developer Smart City, which has tied up with the state government to execute a Rs.1,500-crore IT park project in Kochi.

The foundation stone for the IT city was laid in November 2007, but there has been no progress since then due to unresolved issues between the government and the Dubai-based developer.

Referring to the proposed project, Isaac said the chief minister was right when he said Smart City Dubai was “financially broke”.

“See, they (Smart City) are also into real estate and the collapse there appears to have hit them too. So Achuthanandan was right.”

HC sets aside suspension of IAS officer

Kochi, Nov 26 (PTI) The Kerala High court today set aside the state government's suspension order against a senior IAS official who had made critical remarks about the functioning of the Chief Minister's office to the media.

A division bench of Justice Kurien Joseph and Justice C T Ravi Kumar said the suspension order against Suresh Kumar will have no impact on his service and he is entitled to all service benefits during the period.

The bench clarified that the petitioner was entitled to continuity of service for all purposes with effect from the date of suspension to the date of reinstatement.

Kumar was suspended on February 11 last year when he was holding the post of Managing Director of Kerala state Cooperative Agricultural and Rural Development board.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Shilpa Shetty ties the knot, becomes Mrs Raj Kundra

Clad in a red sari and flaunting diamonds and emeralds, actress Shilpa Shetty on Sunday exchanged wedding vows with London-based businessman Raj Kundra in a close-knit family affair in Khandala in this Maharashtra hill station.
'Everything went very well. All parents want their children to get married happily and that goes the same for Shilpa's parents as well. They are very happy,' said Kiran Bawa, Shilpa's friend and business partner, after the wedding.
'Raj and Shilpa both were very nervous before the marriage but now they are happy. We are going straight to Raj's house in Mumbai,' she added.
Wearing a red sari designed by Tarun Tahiliani, the 34-year-old exchanged vows with Kundra as per the Bunt tradition, according to the Mangalorean community that the Shettys belong to.
The groom was sporting a maroon sherwani with golden embroidery and a turban with his face veiled by a sehra (string of pearls). He was also holding a sword in his hand, as per Indian tradition.
Kundra left Amrit Villa, located about five minutes away from Bawa Villa, where the wedding was held, in a two-horse chariot.
Photographers scrambled to train their cameras atthe goings-on while curious star-gazers were kept at bay by both private and police security.
Sunday's wedding was the climax of the two-day festivities that included a sangeet ceremony Saturday night here.
The buzz around the marriage started early this year and had been steadily getting louder even though Shilpa denied it officially before getting engaged to Kundra late October.
Expected at the marriage were celebrities like the Bachchan family, Shah Rukh Khan and family, the Kapoors, Rekha, Farah Khan, Salman Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Karan Johar, the Deols and Sushmita Sen.
However, noticed prominently on the occasion were only actors Rohit Roy, Jackky Bhagnani and Tahiliani.
Shilpa also delighted fans by posting a blog entry titled 'This is it' on her D-day.
'Thanks for all the best wishes from family and friends...Will write to you very soon... As Shilpa Shetty Kundra. This is it,' she posted on her blog on Sunday morning.
Shilpa met Raj after her win on the British reality show 'Big Brother' in 2007.

Navya Nair to enter wedlock

Popular Malayalam actress Navya Nair, who has also acted in Tamil and Kannada movies, is getting married early next year.
'Yes, I am getting married and it should be sometime in January. Everything was decided just a few days back. Now I want everyone's blessings. Please pray for me,' the actress told reporters Tuesday.

Navya is marrying Santhosh, who is from Kottayam in Kerala and works with a multinational company in Mumbai. The wedding will take place at Navya's hometown in Muthukulam in Alappuzha district.

Navya was in school when she got her first break in Malayalam films in Dileep starrer 'Ishtam' (2001). She has not looked back since then. In the last eight years she has featured in about 55 films.

Navya, who is a good dancer too, has won several awards. For her third film 'Nandanam', she bagged the Kerala State Film Award for best actress.

It was followed by another state award in 2005 for her role in the movies -- 'Kanne Madanguka' and 'Saira'. She is now working on five projects that are in various stages of production.

Santhosh is the son of Maadayil Veetil Shanta Menon and Narayana Menon. Presently, Navya has six film assignments.

Kerala tourism authorities unshaken by 22% drop in international visitors

23 November 2009
Keralan tourism authorities remain unconcerned by a 22% drop in international visitors this year.

Speaking at the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) conference in Cochin, Kerala, secretary of tourism and cultural affairs for the government of Kerala, Dr Venu Vasudevan, said the destination will receive around 600,000 international visitors, of which 140,000 will be from the UK.

This is because the number of international visitors is dwarfed by the 7.5 million Indians who visited the state in 2008, with half the number of visitors being there for leisure purposes.

Dr Venu said: "The domestic consumer market is expanding by about 10% to 15% a year.

"This is probably the reason why Kerala is not desperate to get the foreign visitors and why we don't feel like the world will come to an end when the visitor numbers drop."

Kerala's tourist authorities will continue to focus their main efforts on increasing domestic visitors by spending 60% of their marketing budget on this market.

The remaining cash will continue to be spent on attracting the international market.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lt.Colonel.Padmasree Dr.Mohanlal was Blessed by Bhagavan Baba

Padmasree Mohanlal Seeks Blessings of Bhagavan Baba

Mohanlal Talks to Singer Kavitha Krishnamoorthy at Puttaparthi

Puttaparthi - November 20

Lt.Colonel Padmasree Dr.Mohanlal was today had the rare blesiings of Bhagavan Baba at
Sai Kulwant Hall in Puttaparthi.

Mohanlal reached yesterday at Puttaparthi by Noon and had the Darsan of Sai Baba in the evening and later today had a rare chance of meeting Bhagavan very closely and Offered a Red Rose at his Lotus Feet.

Transpiring a few words with Mohanlal Baba blessed him and returned the blessed rose to the Super star with love.

Back to Santhi Guest House after the Morning Bhagans Mohanlal found some time to interact with the Visitors and later by afternoon left to Bangalore.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mohanlal Visits Puttaparthi to seek blessings of Sai Baba

Mohanlal In Santhi Guest House at Puttaparthi

Puttaparthi-Thursday Nov 19

Padmasree Mohanlal today visited Puttaparthi and attended the Bhajans and sought blessings of Bhagavan Baba.He sat near to Bhagavan Baba's podium in the
Kulwanth hall and attended the Bhajans and special programmes on the Birth Day eve of Bhagavan Baba.Mohanlal was in the Kulwant hall from 3.30 P.M to 7 P.M till the Programme was over.Later he spend a sometime with the Malayalee community from Puttaparthi paused for photos with them at the Santhi Bhavan Guest house inside Ashram where he is staying tonight.

Mohanlal was very cool and in a very Happy mood and stays inside Asharam taking food from the canteen just like any other devotee.

Mohanlal looks more young and charming for those who visited him

Wish Bhagavan Baba's Blessing will be always with Lalettan


Monday, November 16, 2009

Blame game and the city of lost opportunity

Kochi, Nov 16: Two years after the foundation stone for the Smart City IT park was laid here, the ambitious project is yet to see any progress, thanks to the unresolved issues between the government and the developer.

The government signed an agreement with Smart City Dubai to develop the Rs.1,500-crore project and operate it.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan laid the foundation stone Nov 16, 2007, but the company has not started construction as the government is yet to complete the registration of the land allotted for the project and settle a contentious stamp duty issue.

Another hurdle in the implementation of the project is the issue of awarding 12 percent free-hold land to the Dubai-based firm.

The company wants free-hold rights on 12 per cent of land meant for the project, but the government says this demand is not part of the framework agreement signed between the two parties.

Smart City Kochi chairman and State Fisheries Minister S. Sarma told reporters Monday that talks between the government and the developer "are still going on" and the government "is hopeful of sorting out issues".

"See, there is a framework agreement to the project and we are bound to honour that. When demands come from outside the agreement it has to be discussed in detail," said Sarma.

The proposed project is slated to come up on a 246-acre plot with 8.8 million square feet of built-up space, of which 70 percent is earmarked for IT and IT-enabled services.

Meanwhile, the state Congress party has announced that it will organise a "memorial service" Monday evening near the project site as nothing has happened at the site after the stone-laying ceremony.

State Congress president Ramesh Chennithala, who will inaugurate the memorial service, told IANS that the Left government was "incapable" of doing anything constructive.

"Isn't a shame that this government has played spoilsport to one of the biggest projects in the state? In the last three-and-a-half years, have they successfully implemented at least one project?" Chennithala asked.

The last round of bilateral talks between the Dubai team and the government was held in September and it ended without any solutions to the contentious issues.

The date for the next round of talks is yet to be announced.