Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Safety lapses exposed in Kerala boat tragedy

30 Sep 2009. ET Bureau

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The magical experience of a boat cruise on the Thekkady lake, a premier tourist destination in Kerala's Idukki district, turned into one of deep mourning, as a boat carrying an estimated 75 tourists and boat crew went down, killing many. None of the passengers was known to be wearing a life jacket.

The accident occurred around 5 pm, in the lake that is known for the tree stumps that dot the waters, some of them submerged, making boat navigation the exclusive domain of experienced boat drivers.

Idukki additional district magistrate V Jayaprakash told ET that 23 bodies had been recovered by 8 pm, with reports that many more bodies were expected to be located. The local administration pressed the services of police, ambulance and medical staff into service. However, poor lighting and the difficulty of operating rescue boats in the lake in the dark owing to the possibility of submerged tree stumps causing another accident, severely hampered rescue efforts.

There was no immediate confirmation of the number of passengers on board, but Mr Jayaprakash said each boat that was operated on the lake had a specific carrying capacity
and that unofficial reports he could gather put the number of passengers at 75, many of them learnt to be tourists from Karnataka.

The tragedy has once again brought attention to the issue of implementing safety standards for tourism services in general and for boat cruises in particular, that are talked about at seminars but forgotten soon after.

In February 2007, 15 school children and three teachers of the St Antony's Upper Primary School, Elavoor, drowned when their cruise boat capsized at the Thattekkad bird sanctuary. The accident had happened around sunset, at almost the same time as the Thekkady tragedy, making rescue efforts difficult. As was the case in Thekkady, none was wearing a life jacket.

On that occasion, the owner-cum-driver of the boat, PM Raju, had been awarded a sentence of five years' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1.5 lakh for being guilty of rash navigation of vessel and culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The sentence was later suspended on appeal.

A bigger boat capsize had happened in 2002 at Kumarakom, another premium tourist destination, when 29 people drowned, with the only difference being that the victims were local commuters and not tourists.

34 drown as boat capsizes in Kerala

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Agonized shrieks and wails filled the night in Kerala's Periyar tiger reserve in Thekkady where at least 34 vacationers drowned when a boat capsized on Tuesday evening. The toll is expected to rise as search operations slowed due to adverse weather and fading light.

The tragedy occured at 5.15pm at Manakkavala, roughly 5km from the main boat landing station in Thekkady on the Periyar Lake formed by Mullaperiyar dam bordering Tamil Nadu. The boat sunk at a place where the waters enter TN under strong currents. The identity of those killed — mostly tourists from north India, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu — is yet to be established. About 20 persons have been rescued, but fate of others is yet unknown. There were foreign tourists on board the ill-fated 'Jala Kanyaka' belonging to the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation.

State water resources minister N K Premachandran said the accident occurred when tourists moved all of a sudden to one side of the double-decker boat to see a herd of bisons that had emerged from their forest habitat to graze on the grass. As a result, the boat lost its balance and sank stern down, he said. The minister also said the vessel was fit.

Shabir Talim (62), a businessman from Mumbai, was on the upper deck with his wife Nishreen. He told TOI that the accident occured when the driver took a sharp right turn. The bisons, he said were towards the left side of the boat. The couple knew swimming and thus saved themselves.

The state governement has ordered a probe. Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan rang up Union Home Minister A K Antony, who in turn asked the Southern Naval Command to render all possible assistance. A team of Navy divers and an advance light helicopter with floodlights was rushed to help in search operations.

There were also conflicting reports about the number of people on board. While some said there were only 64, others pegged the number at 76. KTDC chairman Cheriyan Philip said there were 74 tourists. Eyewitnesses said there was no life jacket on board, only rubber tubes

Kerala boat capsize: 4 more bodies recovered;toll mounts to 35

Thekkady (Kerala), Oct 1 (PTI) The death toll in the tourist spot tragedy at Thekkady in the southern state of Kerala rose to 35 with four more bodies recovered from the ill-fated boat in the wee hours Thursday.

According to official sources, a team of rescuers which included divers extricated the bodies from the partly submerged boat which capsized yesterday in the famous Thekkady Lake in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Idukki district.

District collector Ashok Kumar Singh had confirmed last night that a total of 31 bodies, including 14 women and six children, were recovered from the state-run double-deck boat which carried 74 tourists.

According to eyewitnesses, the tragedy occurred when the boat 'Jalakanyaka' tilted after several tourists moved to one side on sighting elephants in the Wildlife Sanctuary on the banks of the lake. The boat was half submerged in the mishap.

Kerala HC asks police to probe 'Love Jihad'

30 September 2009

Kerala, Sep 30 . The Kerala High Court Wednesday directed the police to prepare a report in three weeks on instances of women in colleges being lured into embracing Islam by their classmates professing love.

Justice K.T. Shankaran asked the director general of police to conduct a detailed study after he denied anticipatory bail to two people, who allegedly forcibly converted two of their women classmates at a college in Pathanamthitta district after professing their love to the girls.

Conversions to Islam on the pretext of love, now commonly referred to as 'love jihad', came to the limelight when the parents of these two girls in Pathanamthitta complained earlier this month that their daughters were cheated by two Muslims who converted them after luring them by promises of love.

The court also asked the police to inquire if these conversions had the backing of any organisation and if those involved were getting paid for it. It directed the police to look into similar incidents in the past three years.

Shankaran also ordered that a letter be sent to the Union Home Ministry regarding such cases and asked the police to verify if similar incidents had been reported in other states as well.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Exclusive 'Kerala Pavilion' in Dubai festival

27 September 2009

Thiruvananthapuram: For the first time, there would be an exclusive 'Kerala Pavilion' at the Global Village land of the Dubai Shopping Festival starting from November 22, promoters of Kerala section has said here.

'As part of the Global Village at Dubai Land in connection with the 14th edition of Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF),India Pavilion is carrying an exclusive and dedicated Kerala section this time," Briji Bhalla General Manager of Radio Asia Network and Nissar Syed Asia Vision, Dubai, promoters of the Kerala section, told reporters here.

There would be 50 dedicated stalls in the Kerala section and 20 persons had already booked for space, Syed said adding based on the demand and request the number of stalls and space cuold be increased. 'The 97-day long DSF is a right occasion for Kerala businessman to promote their products', he said.

Ethnic handicrafts, artworks, traditional and modern furniture, garments, home appliances, jewelery and fashion accessories, gems, footwear and leather goods were some of the products products in the Kerala section, he said. 'We are also planning to organise some cultural programmes from Kerala in front of Kerala pavilion during the festival days', Syed said.

Pinarayi surrounded by coterie: Sebastian Paul

25 September 2009

Kochi, September 25: CPM fellow traveller and former Ernakulam MP Sebastian Paul Friday said Pinarayi Vijayan is in the grip of a coterie.

Accusing the CPM state secretary of believing in the canards spread by this coterie and acting against the media, the way Indira Gandhi acted in the run up to Emergency, Sebastian Paul said this will create severe consequences for the CPM.

He was reacting to an article written by Prabha Varma in Desabhimani daily which is the offical mouthpiece of the CPM.

Dr. Sebastian Paul who was voted an MP with LDF support three times and once as an MLA, hinted that he was denied a seat in the last parliamentary election because of this coterie. He said he had appraised Vijayan of the reality but he continued to criticise him in public venues despite conceding privately that beleived in what he said. This will create problems for Pinarayi Vijayan and the party in long term. Several friends of CPM have distanced themselves from the party because of this.

Sebastian Paul said while Vijayan has the right to criticise or reprimand him privately, but not in a public venue.

Left Front struggling to tick in West Bengal

Kolkata, Sep 26: Once regarded as electorally invincible, West Bengal's ruling Left Front is facing the biggest crisis in three decades with a united opposition determined to dethrone it in 2011.

There are enough signs that the coalition led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is finally facing the heat for the first time since taking office in June 1977.

Left Front veterans admit they are under siege. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee looks as if he is losing his earlier zeal for governance and industrialization.

"The Left is falling apart. They have remained in power so long by adopting strong-arm tactics. The people are fed up and the opposition is united. All their strategies are failing," Trinamool Congress central minister Sougata Roy told IANS.

Added Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee: "Recent trends reflect a general desire among the people for a change of government. People are determined to throw them out in 2011. The Left is in total disarray."

PWD Minister and Revolutionary Socialist Party leader Kshiti Goswami admitted that all was not right in the multi-party Front. "There have been exchanges among us. Some steps were taken which were against the interests of the farmers."

Ever since the CPI-M and its allies suffered a rout in the April-May Lok Sabha polls at the hands of the Trinamool and the Congress, the chief minister has stayed away from CPI-M leadership meetings.

Naturally, there is speculation that he may step down. He has denied this, but the rumours persist.

People who have seen the chief minister for decades insist that his body language and lacklustre speeches betray his drooping spirits.

The main reason for this is the collapse of his dream of making West Bengal an industrial hub again. Instead of boosting the Left's electoral fortunes, it only caused its electoral decimation.

While the government shelved a chemical hub at Nadigram following violent protests led by opposition parties, Tata Motors shifted its famed Nano car project from Singur to Gujarat after a Trinamool-sponsored campaign.

In 15 months, the Left has suffered heavily in all levels of elections.

The Lok Sabha elections saw the opposition grab almost two-thirds of all seats from the state.

Now the opposition is on a high. Ministers are suddenly talking at cross purposes, the CPI-M's allies pillory the government at every opportunity while inertia has gripped the administration.

The Left's downhill journey has continued even after the Lok Sabha ballot.

It fared poorly in civic body polls in June. In August it suffered humiliation when an independent backed by it lost her security deposit in a by-election from Bowbazar in Kolkata -- for the first time since 1977.

The Congress-Trinamool alliance wrested the Siliguri Municipal Corporation in north Bengal, ending 27 years of Left hegemony.

Indirectly blaming the CPI-M, Minister Goswami told IANS: "There were issues of attitude. Front partners were not taken into confidence on some decisions. There is no doubt that public support for us has waned."

CPI-M central committee member Mohammed Salim told IANS that it was too early to make any forecast about 2011.

"The Trinamool-Congress combine won in Siliguri by mobilising the votes of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) which was happy to ensure the defeat of the Marxists at any cost.

"We are neither heart-broken nor complacent. We will expose the Trinamool and how it is using Maoists to kill our comrades in the three districts of Bankura, West Midnapore and Purulia," he said. "We are rejuvenating. Come 2011, the scene may be absolutely different."

But Amulya Saha, in his late 20s, wants the Left to go.

"My father was all through a CPI-M supporter. He is also now totally disenchanted. He hates the lack of readiness on the part of CPI-M leaders to carry out development work to benefit all sections."

However, 70-year-old Swapan Giri of West Midnapore still swears loyalty to the CPI-M. "The opposition can never run the government. The Left is the best bet for the toiling masses."

Tharoor says he'd tweet, but in moderation

26 September 2009

Tharoor says he'd tweet, but in moderation
New Delhi: Unfazed by the controversy surrounding his comments on the microblogging site Tweeter, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor is upbeat about using this "innovative method of communication" used by the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

"(US President) Barack Obama uses it, (Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton used it while she was in Delhi and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd does it," Tharoor said in an interview to the India Today magazine.

Describing tweeting as "an innovative medium of communication", he said he will continue it but with "some moderation."

"So, twitter will continue and I will not exercise self-censorship but some moderation," said the former UN official who believes he is in politics to make a difference.

Tharoor drew flak from some of his colleagues in the Congress party for his "cattle class" remark on Twitter to describe airline economy class travel.

He was responding to a question by a journalist whether, in view of his party's austerity drive, he would continue to travel "cattle class" - a popular slang for economy class. He reacted by tweeting that he would travel "cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows".

"Of course. I was disappointed as I had come here to make a difference," Tharoor said when asked about his party spokespersons taking offence to his 'cattle class' tweet.

Tharoor met Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee after his return from two African countries amid the controversy over his remarks seen as offensive and insensitive by some of his party leaders.

Some Congress leaders like Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi even demanded Tharoor's resignation for the remarks. However, Manmohan Singh sought to downplay the remarks at his Iftar party, saying it was just "a joke".

Saturday, September 26, 2009

CPM antagonises another fellow traveller

September 25, 2009

The CPI (M) doesn't seem to end its ongoing exercise to turn even friends as its sworn enemies. The latest fellow traveller to fall out of party's grace is Sebastian Paul, former MP, noted media person and former member of Press Council.

The party organ Desabhimani has unleashed a tirade against Paul (62) for having criticised the leadership's recent onslaught against the media for criticising the party and the Left Democratic Front government. In an edit page article penned by Prabha Varma, prominent CPI (M) intellectual and poet has taken Paul to task for having written an article in a leading journal slamming the party leadership for trying to silence the media.

"Paul is trying to defend the media's biased attack against CPI (M) and its leaders" noted Varma a director of Kairali, the CPI (M)-backed television channel and who was Press Secretary to former Chief Minister E K Nayanar.

"Party and its secretary Pinarayi Vijayan are attacking media like Indira Gandhi during Emergency. He should be more tolerant to criticism. A caucus around him is leading Vijayan to antagonise even friends" retorted Paul who was thrice the CPI (M)-backed independent MP from Ernakulam and twice an independent MLA. Paul who had worked as a journalist earlier joined politics in 1997 when CPI(M) successfully fielded him to wrest the Latin Catholic church-dominated Congress citadel of Ernakulam. That Paul was a member of the Latin Catholic church too had helped his victory. Paul was denied seat in the last Lok Sabha polls allegedly due t party's suspicions about his loyalty. In the internal rivalry in CPI(M), Paul is said to be closer to Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan than his bete noire Pinarayi Vijayan, party's state secretary.

Former Kerala MP Dr Sebastian Paul condemns Vijayan


Kochi: Dr Sebastian Paul, the three-time Member of Parliament and a fellow-traveller of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) ended his 12-year bond with the party with a scathing attack on its attitude towards the media yesterday.
“The CPI-M Kerala secretary Pinarayi Vijayan’s utterances against the media remind me of the pre-Emergency Indira Gandhi (who later imposed strict censorship on newspapers),” said Dr Paul, noted media person and former member of the Press Council. “It frightens me,” he added.
His outbursts followed an edit page article in the party mouthpiece Desabhimani criticising Dr Paul’s article in a leading Malayalam newspaper defending media freedom.
Vijayan had repeatedly alleged that journalists in Kerala were on the payroll of the “imperialist forces”.
“Vijayan is controlled by a caucus that makes him hostile to the media. He publicly chided me for voicing my thoughts against the attack on the media. I did not do anything that could embarrass the party, personally or ideologically,” he said.
Dr Paul’s bonhomie with the CPI-M began when he captured the Congress stronghold of Ernakulam for the party in the 1997 by-elections to the Lok Sabha. He was also once elected to the state assembly — all with the CPI-M backing.
“He should be more tolerant to criticism. The caucus around him is leading Vijayan to antagonise even friends and he has been continuing this for long,” said Dr Paul who contested six elections from the same constituency within a span of seven years and won four. “Many times I tried to reason with him but to no avail”.
A member of the powerful Latin Catholic Church, Dr Paul was denied a seat in the last Lok Sabha polls allegedly due to party’s suspicions concerning his loyalty. He is believed to be closer to Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan than Vijayan, his archrival.
Achuthanandan, who has recently been ousted from the party’s highest decision-making body politburo for indiscipline, however, refused to react to the latest development. “I’m not in a position to offer my comments on this,” he told reporters.
The party-controlled Kairali TV recently scrapped Dr Paul’s weekly media review programme, Madhyama Vicharam.
Forbidden Zone-Essays on Journalism is Dr Paul’s latest book in English. He holds a PhD in law.
Senior Congress leader and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi came out in support of Dr Paul saying it was the best example of the Marxist party’s “Stalinist nature”.

Pinarayi Vijayan fails to appear in court

Kochi, Sep 24 (PTI) CPI(M) Kerala secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, arraigned as an accused in a graft case relating to award of contract to a Canadian company in 1998, failed to appear before the CBI special court today.

The court granted bail to five other accused who were present.

Vijayan's counsel M K Damodaran, a former Advocate General, appeared before special court judge K P Jothindranath and filed a petition explaining his absence on medical grounds.

The special court had on June 23 issued summons to all the nine accused, including Vijayan, in the SNC Lavalin case, to appear before the court today.

Lavalin official Klaus Treindl and Lavalin company did not accept the summons, following which the court issued fresh summons to both today.

Those who were granted bail are K Mohanachandran, R Shivadasan, Kasturiranga Iyer, Siddharta Menon, A Francis.

Vijayan's request unheard of: Chandy

Alappuzha, Sep 25 (PTI) Leader of Opposition in Kerala assembly Oommen Chandy today said the request of CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan to question Defence Minister A K Antony in Lavalin graft case was only a ploy to prolong it.

Talking to reporters here, Chandy said the request of Vijayan, an accused in the case, to question Antony, a former Chief Minister, was unheard of.

"An accused in a case deciding a prosecution witness was unheard of. It was an attempt to prolong the case," he alleged.

Vijayan had yesterday filed a petition before the CBI special court seeking a direction to the investigating agency to question Antony in the case.

The case relates to the alleged corruption in the award of renovation contract of three hydel projects in the state to Canadian company S N C Lavalin.

Vijayan wants CBI to question Antony

25 September 2009

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: CPM politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan has petitioned a court in Kochi seeking its direction to the CBI for questioning defence minister A K Antony in the multicrore SNC-Lavlin case.

Vijayan failed to appear on Thursday before the special CBI court hearing the Lavlin case in which he is an accused. The court allowed his counsel M K Damodaran’s plea that Vijayan, the CPM state secretary in Kerala, be exempted from personal appearance for the day as he was not in good health.
Vijayan through his counsel also petitioned the court to direct the investigating agency to question Antony in connection with the scandal.

Vijayan’s lawyer said Antony was a ‘‘necessary and material witness’’ because it was during his tenure as chief minister that the MoU (with Canadian company SNC-Lavlin for modernising power plants in the state) was entered and contracts concluded and it was during his tenure that the MoU got lapsed.

‘‘If Antony and other officials are questioned, it would come to light that the renovation of the three hyrdro-electric projects and setting up of the Malabar Cancer Centre were distinct and different, he said.
The CBI case is that the two were related and that the money for setting up cancer hospital was in return for the award of the renovation project to the company.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hippocratic Oath - A Reality from Kerala

Asianet Investigation Report

I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:
To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art.

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.

Tharoor's taunt on austerity angers Congress

16 September 2009
New Delhi, Sep 16: The Congress Wednesday said Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor's remarks that he would travel in "cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows" were not acceptable and the party high command may also decide if any disciplinary action is to be taken against him.

"The party strongly disapproves the statement of the minister. It is unacceptable, not respecting political or any other sensibilities," said Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan.

On his page on the micro-blogging site Twitter, Tharoor was asked, "Tell us minister, next time you travel to Kerala, will it be cattle class?" His reply: "Absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows."

Asked whether any disciplinary action would be taken against the former UN diplomat, the spokesperson said: "This is something that the high command will decide."

The Congress and the government it leads have launched an austerity drive against the backdrop of drought in some parts of the country and rising prices of essential commodities.

Tharoor as well as External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna were asked earlier this month to move out of five-star hotels where they had been staying for over three months - though at their own expense.

Tharoor, who was staying at the Hotel Taj Mahal on Man Singh Road, is now staying at an Indian Navy guesthouse.

All Kerala govt employees to get e-mail IDs

16 September 2009

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Tuesday inaugurated the 'Email to All Employees' project, whereby over 475,000 government employees will get e-mail IDs in a phased manner. More than 4,000 employees received their official email IDs here Tuesday through a web-based mail service using an open source software package.

Rathan Kelkar, director of Kerala's state IT mission that is implementing the project, said there would be an improvement in the efficiency of government functioning once this project is completed.

"We have already published a set of rules and policies regarding managing e-mails approved by the government based on the guidelines of the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances," said Kelkar.

The project was developed on a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) platform, configured and tested for hardware and software and finally rolled out by the state-owned Centre for the Development of Imaging Technology

Monday, September 14, 2009

UDF stages walkout over press freedom

14 September 2009

Thiruvananthapuram: Congress-led UDF opposition members on Monday staged a walkout in the Kerala Assembly alleging that the government was trying to gag the press even as Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan made it clear that there was no plan to impose any control over the media.

Referring to the statement made by State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan yesterday that the LDF government was planning to "take evidence" from the media on reports regarding controversial cases, the opposition alleged that it was an attempt to "infringe" on the Freedom of Press.

Balakrishnan made the remark while referring to the media reports on the progress of investigation into the murder of a Kerala-based businessman Paul M George. Replying on behalf of Balakrishnan to the submission on the matter raised by UDF, state Law Minister M Vijayakumar said he was only referring to the existing rules and "there is no proposal to bring any new law for summoning journalists for taking evidence."

Vijayakumar said Balakrishnan was in Delhi to receive an award, instituted by 'India Today' magazine, as Kerala was selected the best state in the country with regard to maintenance of law and order.

Pinarayi-Isaac axis against media

13 Sep 2009

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The tirade of CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan against the media on Friday was part of a script he had co-authored with Finance Minister Thomas Isaac. Sources in the CPM told 'Express' that the second part of this script will be released soon in the form of a book penned by Isaac. In his research series, Isaac is planning to bring out a book that will expose the anti-Communist role of the media. Isaac and Kairali TV executive editor N P Chandrasekharan will complete the book soon.

The book, it is learnt, is a logical attempt to put on record the unfair treatment meted out by the media against the CPM.

One of the hidden agendas behind Pinarayi's outburst against the media is setting an atmosphere conducive for the marketing of the book. The brains behind the book see this as "a perfect opportunity" to launch the book. To step up the attack against the media, the party cadres will need to buy the book and the party organs will have to give maximum possible coverage to it.

But this is just one of the agendas and probably a minor one of the Pinarayi-Isaac axis. Many in the party see Pinarayi's attempts as a veiled attack against Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. Earlier, Pinarayi dared to challenge the Opposition to name the son of the Minister in connection with the Paul George murder case. The name of Bineesh Kodiyeri was shouted by the BJP and the Youth Congress and eventually Kodiyeri had to convene a press conference to say that his son "was not involved in the murder".

The second appearance of Pinarayi was also at the wrong time. It was after the dust had almost settled down with the arrest of Omprakash and Puthenpalam Rajesh that Pinarayi provoked the media and the Opposition. By dragging the name of leaders like V M Sudheeran, he ensured that the entire Congress party will stand united and fight against the failure of the Home department

Yuva Morcha flays Kodiyeri

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Yuva Morcha state president K Surendran alleged that the Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and his sons have turned the Home Department into a ``band of dacoits’’.

The Home Department is trying to torpedo the investigation into the Paul George murder case. ``The role of City Police Commissioner while bringing gangsters Omprakash and Rajesh from Tirunelveli remains mysterious. Though the Commissioner has no responsibility in connection with the Paul George murder case, he had accompanied the gangsters in the same vehicle,’’ Surendran said, while speaking to mediapersons here on Friday.

Surendran alleged that the commissioner was entrusted with the `duty’ of telling them the story framed by the police. ``The delayed recording of statement from Manu strengthens this doubt,’’ he said. The police have totally failed to investigate the allegation that the S-shaped knife was made on the orders of police, he said.

``Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had said in the Assembly that the ADGP would investigate the allegation. Even after considerable time, the police is yet to initiate any action,’’ hesaid. The State Government had lost lakhs of rupees by giving fancy number to the Home Minister’s son at a meagre price, he said.

Nothing to hide in Muthoot murder: Kodiyeri

Kozhikode, Sep 13: Stating that he had "nothing to hide", Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan Sunday asked those who have alleged his son's link-up with criminals involved in the murder of Muthoot business group scion Paul M. George to come forward with the evidence.

Balakrishnan said this to reporters after state Youth Congress president M. Liju alleged that it was Balakrishnan's son Bineesh Kodiyeri who was protecting one of the murder accused, Om Prakash, when he was in Dubai.

"I request those who have voiced the allegation to hand over all the evidence," said Balakrishnan.

Paul M. George, 32, son of Muthoot Finance Group chairman M.C. George, was killed Aug 21 midnight near Alappuzha while he was travelling in a car with Om Prakash and P. Rajesh, who face several criminal cases.

Eyebrows were raised when the police arrested 19 others but did not arrest the two.

Early this week, the men surrendered in a court in Tirunelveli and the next day they were handed over to the Kerala Police. They are in judicial custody.

"We have nothing to hide and investigation in the case is going ahead in the right direction. It is unfortunate that a section of the media and political parties, for some reason, have been trying to mislead the investigation by coming out with stories and theories. This will not help. Let the court decide if the investigation was right or wrong," said Balakrishnan.

Three top Congress leaders Ramesh Chennithala, V.M. Sudheeran and Kannur Lok Sabha member K. Sudhakaran had in three separate meetings with the media Saturday said they suspected foul play in the probe into the George murder case.

Chennithala also alleged that Pinarayi Vijayan, state secretary of Kerala's ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), had a "hidden agenda" in the probe into the murder.

Minister Jose Thettayil down with swine flu

13 September 2009

Thiruvananthapuram: Newly appointed Kerala Transport Minister Jose Thettayil has tested positive for Influenza A(H1N1), an official confirmed Saturday.

The test result came Saturday night, confirming that Thettayil is down with swine flu, Amar S. Fettle, state nodal officer of H1N1, sad.

"Right now he is admitted to a private hospital here," said Fettle.

Thettayil, who belongs to a faction of the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) which owes its allegiance to the ruling Left Democratic Front, was sworn in last month.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Paul Murder: Pinarayi hits out at Media, Congress

Thiruvananthapuram, Friday, September 11, 2009:

Seething and trying hard to save the party’s image, CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan lased out at media saying the media is protecting the miscreants. Pinarayi Vijayan said, a section of media who does not want the truth to emerge is propagating false reports.

Pinarayi Vijayan said, according to Intelligence agencies, Kerala is ranked among having the best law and order situation in the country, but the media is trying to project a different picture, media should not take up the role of police or investigators. Where did media get reports that, police had approached and instructed blacksmith to prepare “S” shaped knife, the media is hatching conspiracies with some mysterious agenda. He said there was a concerted campaign by these parties with the help of some media “making false charges”against government.

Fuming at the opposition Pinarayi Vijayan said, it’s not the CPM but the Congress, which is keeping nexus with ‘quotation gangs’. The Changanassery quotation gang was bought to Alappuzha by Congressmen with the help of a RSS worker named Jayan. There is proof that, Om Prakash have had close association with a present MP and has stayed with him at MLA hostel. The goon named’Kodali Sreedharan’ who was arrested in connection with Havala money transaction have links with leaders like VM Sudheeran.

Pinarayi also added that, it was the Left government, which has acted against miscreants and issued warrant against Puthanpalam Rajesh.

Media probe makes Pinarayi see red

12 Sep 2009

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday attempted to pit the police against the media and suggested an inquiry into the activities of the media in the Paul George murder case.

Pinarayi's press conference held here carried enough hints to CPM cadres to 'handle' those media organisations which bring disturbing facts to the public attention.

According to him, the media should swallow whatever the police say regarding a murder inquiry and never try to question the logic in the police version. "If someone takes on the role of the police, it is not with a genuine reason," he said.

Venting his anger against the media in general, and the Asianet News channel in particular, Pinarayi alleged that a section of the media was actually shielding goondas.

"Do you possess the insight to know that the police commissioned a blacksmith to make the dagger?" he asked, alleging a mala fide intention behind the Asianet News investigation to find out the truth behind the S-shaped dagger.

When it was pointed out that there were visuals showing the confession of the blacksmith who was allegedly commissioned by the police to make the dagger, and another set of visuals showing the dagger being placed inside the house of Kari Satheesh, the first accused in the Paul George murder case, Pinarayi bluntly said he didn't believe those visuals.

"The media is trying to demoralise inquiry officers and divert the case. In fact, there should be an inquiry into the role of the media. Since there is protection for the media, the police are reluctant to initiate any action against them," said Pinarayi.

He lost his temper and evaded a reply when a journalist pointed out that arrested goondas like Hariprasad and Sukran Ranjith were CPM workers and asked what the logic then was in arguing that it was the media which was shielding goondas.

Karunakaran admitted to hospital

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 11 (PTI) Senior Congress leader and former Kerala Chief Minister K Karunakaran was today admitted to a hospital here with fever and cough.

Sources in Sree Chitra Thirunal Medical Centre, where the 90-year-old leader was admitted, said his health condition was stable.

"All health parameters are well and there is no problem", the sources said.

Congress mulls Jagan for AP chief ministership

Hyderabad/New Delhi: The Congress leadership is considering Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy for the post of Andhra Pradesh chief minister, said a close aide of late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, even as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee clarified that a final decision would be taken at "an appropriate time."

K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao, a long-time friend of Rajasekhara Reddy, told reporters that the central leadership would take a decision on this issue. YSR, as the deceased chief minister was popularly known, was killed in a helicopter crash in Andhra Pradesh's Nallamalla forest Sep 2.

In Delhi, senior Congress leader and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told women journalists that a decision on YSR's successor would "be taken at an appropriate time."

Asked about the chorus for naming YSR's son Jaganmohan Reddy as his successor in the chief minister's post, Mukherjee said it was "an emotional upsurge after his death". To further questions, he only said: "It is not a major issue. It may noy take longer to decide."

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, meanwhile, said the party would consider the demand of Jaganmohan's supporters provided if it came through a process.

"If at all there is a demand, which is reflective of people's sentiments; as long as it is routed through correct organisational process and brought to the AICC in-charge, then the party will definitely take it into consideration," he told reporters in Delhi. He was referring to the All India Congress Committee leader M. Veerappa Moily who is in charge of theparty's Andhra Pradesh affairs.

Referring to K. Rosaiah, who has been installed chief minister following YSR's death, Tewari added: "There is a chief minister in Andhra Pradesh. There is a cabinet in that state, which has taken oath and if at all at any point of time there is a change in the situation, we will inform you."

Meanwhile, K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao, who is also member of the Rajya Sabha, met YSR's son Jaganmohan Reddy at the CM's Camp Office soon after his return from Delhi where he pitched hard for his candidature.

Rao met party president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior leaders during the three days he was in Delhi and apprised Jaganmohan of the outcome of his talks.

He would return to Delhi after attending an all-party condolence meeting here Friday evening for further consultations with the leadership.

His visit to Hyderabad, meeting with Jaganmohan and return to Delhi triggered speculations in political circles in Hyderabad that the leadership was reluctant to name 37-year-old Jagan, a first time parliamentarian, as the next chief minister and has instead offered him the post of deputy chief minister or a berth in central cabinet.

The leadership is also reportedly ready to appoint him to some key post in the party.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bhagavan Sri krishna - Original rare image

This Photo was Created by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba many years back and presented to Saradamba a devote of Swami.The original photo is in black and white form and we have tried to identify the colors and features.

I wish the real krishna looks like this since it is created by Sai Baba himself

On this Auspecious day of Krishna Janmastami I am Posting it to the World to see.

Visit our exclusive Guruvayur website

Two-day talks on Smart City inconclusive

Thursday,10 September 2009

Thiruvananthapuram: The two-day talks between the Kerala government and Smart City Dubai to take forward the proposed Smart City Kochi software township project turned out to be inconclusive, but both parties were confident that the deadlock would be broken. Emerging after the meeting, Chief Secretary Neela Gangadharan, who led the Kerala delegation, said discussions were yet to be concluded and would continue. The talks were held Wednesday and Thursday.
"Certainly, the discussions are fruitful but not yet concluded, that is what I would say," said Gangadharan.

The proposed project, to be jointly launched by the state government and Smart City Dubai, 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.

The government has given a special economic zone status for 136 acres of the project.

But it has neither completed the registration of the land nor settled a contentious stamp duty issue.

Smart City Dubai chief executive Fareed Abdul Rehman said the next round of discussions would take place at the director board meeting slated for Sep 30.

"Nothing has been concluded because there are a few issues to be sorted out," said Rehman.

Chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan had laid the foundation stone of the Rs.1,500-crore ($316-million) IT township project Nov 16, 2007, but there has been no progress since then.

The project has hit a road block with over the issue of giving 12 per cent freehold land to the Dubai firm.

Omprakash, Rajesh sent to judicial custody

Thursday,10 September 2009

Thiruvananthapuram: Two alleged criminals who are suspected to have travelled with Paul M. George - scion of Kerala's Muthoot business group - the night he was murdered were sent to two weeks of judicial custody by a court here Thursday.

The judge sent Om Prakash and P. Rajesh to two weeks of judicial custody but told their counsel they could move a bail application Monday. The two had surrendered before a court in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, a day earlier and were brought to the Central Jail here amid heavy security.

While Rajesh remained grim, Prakash was seen waving his hand and nodding his head. Police say Prakash is an accused in 17 criminal cases while Rajesh is allegedly involved in 25 cases.

George, 32, was killed Aug 21 midnight near Alappuzha while he was travelling with the two, but they escaped and were on the run.

The Congress as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have cried foul over the manner in which the case is being investigated. They have alleged that police are under duress because of the alleged links between Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's son Bineesh Kodiyeri and the two and that is why they had not been arrested.

Police had a tough time controlling hundreds of people and a battery of news photographers who were present at the court premises here Thursday.

K. Surendran, president of the youth wing of the state BJP who had come with a large number of supporters near the court premises, said police were playing a game.

"Who does not know that all this is a stage-managed affair that has been scripted and directed by police? Their surrender in a court in Tamil Nadu in another case tells the tale of how police are handling this case," said Surendran

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pinarayi Vijayan castigates C R Neelakandan

09 Sep 2009

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In his first public function after a brief hospitalisation, CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan has unleashed a scathing attack on anti-corruption activist C R Neelakandan who had written a book exposing Pinarayi’s role in the SNC-Lavalin graft case.

"Neelakandan is not an elephant, but a white elephant.

He is a bad model for our society. A section of the media is sponsoring people like Neelakandan,’’ said Pinarayi while inaugurating the state conference of Employees Federation @ Information Technology, an association of IKM employees, on Tuesday.

"Neelakandan has approached the Court with a plea that a public sector company would exist only if he worked there. Can any employee in the state imitate him as a model? He is an excellent model on how not to work in a company. There are some Neelakandans in our state who demand salary promptly without doing their work in the institution. This is a curse on our society,’’ Pinarayi said.

Referring to the delay in the completion of the work awarded to the IKM by the LSG Department, Pinarayi said those who are at the helm of IKM is responsible for that. "If there are any shortcomings in that work, it is not your fault. It is the fault of those who control you,’’ he said.

K.K.Jayachandran MLA presided over the function.

M M Lawrence inaugurated the website of the organisation.

CPM district secretary Kadakampally Surendran and CITU district secretary S S Potti spoke.

Lavalin, Muthoot cases put Kerala Left in a spot

9 Sep 2009, ET Bureau

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala’s ruling Left Democratic Front came under more opposition fire today in the state assembly, with the Congress-led United Democratic Front targeting CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan for allegedly getting hold of some cabinet documents.

The opposition walked out of the assembly alleging that Vijayan had used those documents in support of a case against him that is currently being heard in the Supreme Court.

Vijayan is one of the accused in the SNC Lavalin case that relates to alleged corruption in handing contracts to the Canadian company, worth Rs 374 crore, and the opposition is alleging that he took some crucial cabinet documents to fight his case in the Supreme Court. The contracts given to the Canadian company were for renovation of three hydro-electric projects in the state when Vijayan was state power minister.

Chief minister VS Achuthanandan denied the allegation, stating that the documents were given to Vijayan as per the rules and on the basis of an application filed by him under the Right to Information Act.

Vijayan is presently challenging the state governor’s decision to sanction his prosecution, and has used some documents pertaining to cabinet decisions to support his case.

Opposition leader Oommen Chandy and Kerala Congress (M) leader KM Mani said it was wrong precedence to provide cabinet decisions on a request through the RTI. When the speaker rejected the opposition demand for an adjournment motion on the matter, the opposition staged a walkout.

On Tuesday, the opposition had alleged police-criminal nexus in the killing of Paul Muthoot George (32), executive director of the Muthoot group, and demanded the resignation of home minister and CPM politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

The murder mystery took a bizarre turn on Monday when a blacksmith told a television channel that the knife that the police had ‘recovered’ from the home of the murder accused, had in fact been made by him on request by a circle inspector of police.

Kerala to set up Islamic bank shortly ?

9 September 2009

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government will set up an Islamic bank in the state, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac told the assembly Wednesday.

The share capital of the proposed bank has been fixed at Rs.1,000 crore, Isaac said, adding that an advisory committee would be set up shortly to work out the details.

"Non-resident Malayalees and Kerala-based businessmen like E.M. Najeeb are involved in the project," he said.

Later, Najeeb told IANS the core committee that has been set up has held three meetings following a feasibility study conducted by a consultant.

"The study has found that a bank under the Sharia rules of Islamic banking is feasible and viable here. By next year this would be a reality," said Najeeb, who is part of the core committee.

"The company would be registered by next month. Once the company is formed, we will move for clearance from the Reserve Bank of India," he added.

"The bank will not receive or pay interest and have Sharia compliant products. The profits made out of investments will be distributed among shareholders. A Sharia board will decide on what sort of investments will be made."

Muslims constitute the second largest community in Kerala, accounting for close to 24 percent of the 3.2-crore population.

According to a study done by the Centre for Development Studies, 48 percent of 18.5 lakh non-resident Malayalees are Muslims.

Of the total remittances of Rs.24,525 crore (about $49 million) to the state in 2007, Muslims remitted Rs.12,158 crore (Rs.24.3 million), the study found.

Can't say if Omprakash, Rajesh are accused

Wednesday,9 September 2009

Alappuzha: It is not possible to say at the moment whether the two surrendered goons, Omprakash and Puthanpalam Rajesh, are witnesses or accused in the Paul M George murder case, DGP Jacob Punnoose said on Monday.

The DGP, talking to reporters here after a meeting with officials involved in the investigation, said that some details cannot be divulged as it may hamper the course of investigation.

He said that steps will be taken to make the duo, who have surrendered in Tamil Nadu in connection with another case, available for interrogation and a plea will be filed in the court for that.

Meanwhile, a police official from Kerala has arrived in Palayamkotta court with the 'production warrant' to get the custody of the accused surrendered at Thirunelveli. A special team of police officials has also left Thiruvananthapuram to bring the duo to Kerala..

I am spending my own savings: Tharoor tweets

Tuesday,8 September 2009

New Delhi: After being asked to leave a five-star hotel, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor used the social networking tool Twitter to give his reaction, pointing out that he was spending his "own savings".

"I wld be ashamed if I was spending the people's money. But I'm not - I'm spending my own savings," Tharoor tweeted Tuesday afternoon, in reply to a question asked on Twitter.

Stung by a media report and also after the government enforced austerity measures, both External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his junior Shashi Tharoor moved out of the luxury hotels where they have been staying for the past over three months.

"I have requested both the ministers to vacate hotel rooms," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here Tuesday at a conference on indirect taxes.

Tharoor reacted that he would much rather be in his "official house".

On a suggestion that Kerala House could be a temporary place for stay, Tharoor said: "I need 2 things daily that Kerala House doesn't offer - a gym and some privacy. But I visit pretty often and meet people there."

Incidentally, Tharoor often gets questions on Twitter on whether the government pays for his trips to his constituency, Thiruvananthapuram.

He had replied on Twitter that he never uses government money, as he usually stays in his own or friends' residences.

Tharoor, who was staying at Hotel Taj Mahal on Man Singh Road, is now staying at the Indian Navy's guesthouse at Kota House.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Police plotted the muthoot murder story?-Media Investigation

Asianet News
Monday, September 07, 2009

North Police Station CI asked to make the ‘S’ shaped knife.

It was done on the same day when IG Vincent Paul had briefed the media about the details of the weapons used in the murder

The Asianet News team launched a sting operation after it came across certain loopholes in the statements issued by the police and by Satheesh’s family. Shocking revelations followed.

The investigations led our team to a blacksmith on the outskirts of the Alappuzha. The team introduced themselves as policemen from the North Police station

The said blacksmith revealed that the ‘S’ shaped knife, which the police claimed that it had recovered from Satheesh’s house, was made by him at the behest of the policemen themselves. Ironically, it was done on the same day when IG Vincent Paul had briefed the media about the details of the weapons used in the murder

The blacksmith revealed that the Alappuzha North Police station Circle Inspector, KA Thomas - who is part of the police investigation team - had gone to his home and asked him to make two knives - one S-shaped and another, smaller one. He wanted the S-shaped knife immediately. He also drew a picture of the same for the blacksmith to refer to. The small knife was supposed to be made with the following dimensions - 10 cm length and 3 cm width. He also gave the blacksmith five hundred rupees for this. However, the blacksmith later informed CI Thomas about the second knife he had made, but no policeman ever turned up to take it.

Paul murder: Satish's mother seeks CBI probe

Kochi : The mother of K. Satish, who the police claim stabbed Muthoot business group scion Paul M. George, filed a petition before the high court Monday, seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the incident.

Satish's mother Vilasini alleges that her son is being framed by the police. She said the police had made Satish place a bundle containing a knife that they say was used in George's murder.

Vilasini filed the petition through her counsel Ramachandran and the court is expected to look into the plea Tuesday.

George, 32, was killed Aug 21 midnight near Alappuzha while he was travelling with two men, Om Prakash and P. Rajesh, both of whom had criminal records. The police have since arrested Satish and 17 others for their role in the crime.

According to Inspector General of Police Vinson M. Paul, George was driving a Ford Endeavour vehicle, followed by a Scorpio vehicle that was being driven by George's driver.

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party havecried foul in the manner the case is being investigated and have alleged that police is under duress because of the alleged links between state Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's son Bineesh and Om Prakash and P. Rajesh, who are now absconding.

Balakrishnan has, however, constantly denied allegations that his son was involved in George's murder.

The Congress party, meanwhile, staged a sit-in demonstration in front of the state secretariat Monday against, what it called, the criminalization of politics by the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led government and demanded that Balakrishnan resign.

'Balakrishnan is one of the worst ever home ministers that the state has seen. Today the scene is that Balakrishnan is shielding these goondas and not the people. It is a shame and it is time that he resigns. The police is yet to nab these two goons (Om Prakash and Rajesh),' said state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala.

George's murder is likely to dominate the state assembly session that begins Tuesday.

Kerala becoming goonda's own land: Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram: Opposition leader Oomen Chandy said the state has failed to maintain law and order and alleged that the state is turning out to be Goonda's own land and not God's own land. People are living under the constant fear of goondas, he alleged.

The state is trying to dilute the Goonda law introduced by the UDF. The government is trying to protect the goondas as is seen in the declining number of goondas in the goonda list prepared during the UDF rule. He flayed the government for not trying to arrest Om Prakash and Rajesh who were associated with the Paul murder. Though days have elapsed the police are unableto trace them and this is because of their strong political connections, he alleged.

Chandy was inaugurating the KPCC secretariat march against the Quotation gang and the goonda raj in the state. Continuing to attack the LDF govt, KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala asked if the state is devoid of any police rule. The state is becoming a haven for goondas, thieves and murderers. Kerala is witnessing a link between the CPM and the goondas. He alleged that the CPM is utilising these goondas for party activities and demanded the resignation of Kodiyeri.

P P Thankachan, G Karthikeyan, Thallekunnil Basheer, Thennala balakrishna Pilla, also participated in the dharna.

Paul murder :Several unanswered questions remain

Alappuzha: Mystery still shrouds the story coined by the police in the Paul Muthoot murder case as a lot of questions still remain unanswered.

1. Police said that George was driving a Ford Endeavour vehicle and at Pallathuruthy he hit a two wheeler. The vehicle which did not stop after hitting the two-wheeler irked a group of people who were waiting to get the tyre of their vehicle repaired. This group followed George's vehicle resulting in the murder. The Scorpio, driven by Paul's driver Shibu, which was following Paul's vehicle, stopped at Pallathuruthy to collect the keys of Chambakkulam guest house. When Shibu reached the murder spot in seven minutes he found Paul hacked to death. The report says that Paul succumbed to his injuries on the spot. Within seven minutes the whole incident happened ie. Paul's vehicle hitting a two wheeler, a group following him in a Tempo Traveller and killing Paul. The simple question is that how all these incidents happened in such a short period?

As per Inspector General of Police Vinson M. Paul. It is believable as per scientific evidence.

2. The persons who were with Paul belong to a goonda gang and those who came to attack Paul were also hired goondas. Is there any connection between thetwo gang?

IG's reply:
The group, which had 22 people, were hired goonds and were on the way to commit a crime near Alappuzha. They came in two tempo travellers, one Santro and one Scorpio. When the team stopped at Pallathuruthy to repair the tyre of one tempo traveller Paul's vehicle passed through the spot hitting a bike rider. Among the vehicles parked there one passed towards the Alappuzha direction following Paul's car. A probe will be conducted whether these groups have any relation.

3.The investigation team did not have any suspicion over the logic of a chase between Endeavour, which has the capacity to ride in high speed and tempo traveller.

IG's reply: As everyone in the traveller was in a drunken state there are chances for the same.

Another suspicion is that driver Shibu may have been sent to collect the keys inorder to prevent following Paul's car till the murder is committed. When the driver reached the house boat office to collect the keys he was told that the guest house is already open. When police reached the spot after the incident, the tempo traveller which was under repair, was still in Pallathruthy, IG also agrees that. But after some time the car went missing. Why did the police not take into custody the car at that time?

Paul murder: Biju discloses -Media Investigations

Asianet News
Tuesday, September 01, 2009

No vehicle chased Paul's Endeavour

In his statement Biju says that the vehicle that hit him was not followed by any other vehicle. Those who came to help him later went to the tempo traveller which was parked 20 metres away. To clarify this, Asianet News called Biju in his mobile, he repeated the same. He also said that he asked for help to the vehicles which were passing the area at that time.

KOCHI: In Biju's statement, after hitting his two wheeler by Paul Muthoot's Endeavour car it was not chased by any tempo traveller. Biju said to Asianet News that after the accident no heavy vehicle passed the road for around 20 minutes to Changanassery area.

In his statement Biju says that the vehicle that hit him was not followed by any other vehicle. Those who came to help him later went to the tempo traveller which was parked 20 metres away. To clarify this, Asianet News called Biju in his mobile, he repeated the same. He also said that he asked for help to the vehicles which were passing the area at that time.

The statement of Biju has vast difference with the statement that IG said in the press conference earlier. The IG said that the provoked youth in the tempo traveller chased the Endeavour car of Paul Muthoot after helping Biju to sit down. The quotation group followed the car and killed Paul Muthoot just after seven minutes of the said accident of the two wheeler.

187 marriages in a day at Guruvayoor temple

Sunday,6 September 2009

Guruvayoor, Sep 6: As many as 187 marriages were solemnised at Kerala's famed Sree Krishna Temple here from 5 a.m. till about noon Sunday, setting a record of sorts.

One of the main reasons for the large number of couples tying the knot is that the day is considered auspicious for conducting ceremonies, said Vijayan Nambiar, a senior temple official.

"All those interested in their marriage being conducted in the temple had to get their names registered the previous day or at least by 4 a.m. Sunday when the temple office opens. A fee of Rs.200 is charged and the approximate time of the marriage is given to them," Nambiar told IANS.

"At the appointed time, the marriage party is called and a maximum of five people apart from the bride and groom are allowed to go to the 'mandapam' where the marriage rites are conducted. The entire marriage ceremony gets over in about five minutes and soon the next couple is called out," Nambiar explained.

Last Sunday also saw a huge rush with 134 couples getting married. Sunday's figures beat the record set three years back when when 157 marriages were solemnised.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Onam Music Concert by K.S.Chitra at Prasanthi Nilayam

K.S.Chitra, popularly known as the “Nightingale of South India” who lends her voice in the South Indian Film Industry, whose foray into the field of playback singing earned her a distinct name in the Indian Music Industry; The stage was the seat of the Lord in physical, the dais in Prasanthi Nilayam; The occasion was Uthradam, the day preceding to Thiruvonam, Kerala’s most important festivity.

…And the popular playback singer would never forget the day when she was abundantly blessed by Bhagawan. On the beautiful evening that preceded the auspicious Thiruvonam, K.S.Chitra was fortunate to share the stage with her Mighty Lord, who was onstage enjoying the programme, to sing a collection of selected devotionals.
Starting off with Ganesha Vandana she had a string of ten songs that included one bhajan, a fruitful mix of variety songs including carnatic pieces that exhibited her rare talent of weaving vocal magic.

The songs included, Madhura Mukhada Sai Natha…, Bhaavayami Gopala Baalam….. Jai Jai Jai Jai Sai Janani…, Aalarey Giridhara Gopal…, Pashupathi Thanaya Vighna Vinashaka…, Krishna Nee Begane Baaro, Koi Kahiyo Re Prabhu Awan Ki etc… followed by the popular Prasanthi Bhajan “…Chittha Chora Yasoda Ke Bal, Navaneeta Chora Gopal”…

During one of her earlier visits to Prasanthi Nilayam, in the mid nineties, she had an opportunity to sing in His Divine Presence, in an unscheduled programme held in the Poornachandra Auditorium. And along with many other popular devotionals she had sung the same bhajan, “Chittha Chora Yasoda Ke Bal…”
Hers was melody that sounded soothing, often touching lower tones, suddenly pitching up to ecstatic heights, a sign of devotional ecstasy, bringing the audience spellbound with what one could call the ‘Nightingale Special’ for The Lord. The packed audience gave the singer rounds of applause when, one after one, she came out with a variety mix sung with elan.

After the programme Bhagawan spent quite some time with the singer talking and blessing her. Her seven year old child, Nandana, was specially called on stage at the instance of Bhagawan. Bhagawan materialized a gold chain for the little one and presented sari to the singer and safari pieces to the accompanying artistes. Bhagawan most lovingly posed for photo session making the day a most memorable one in her life.

Watch Exclusive Slide show down this page

Onam Divine Discourse by / Sri Satya Sai Baba at Puttaparthi

2nd Sept 2009

Dear devotees of Kerala!
Emperor Bali used to rule the state of Kerala in ancient times. He used to treat his subjects as his own family members and provide several conveniences for their happy and comfortable living. He used to develop sacred feelings among the people and create a proper environment to foster them.

In order that the people tread the right path and to set an example to them, he once started a yajna (ritual, sacrifice) by name ‘Viswajit’. Several people gathered to witness that event. Emperor Bali performed the yajna on a grand scale by donating land and money to several people and gave away gifts to a number of people on the occasion. During the Yajna, his family members were also seated on the Yajna Vedika along with him.

While everyone was watching the grand spectacle, a handsome boy entered the sacrificial hall holding a small umbrella made of palmirah leaves. As He was approaching the altar, Emperor Bali’s daughter Ratnamala saw Him. She was captivated by the beauty and effulgence of that charming young boy. Immediately, she was lost in deep contemplation, thinking, “How fortunate it would be if I had a child like Him!” The boy went straight to the altar. While everyone present in the sacrificial hall was watching happily, Emperor Bali welcomed Him, washed His feet reverentially, offered a garland, and asked Him to sit on an ornate chair. He then asked the young boy, “Who are You? Where did You come from and why?”

The young boy replied, “I have heard that Emperor Bali is doing several acts of charity. I too have a desire to be fulfilled.”The Emperor then asked, “What is it?” The boy replied, “I don’t need much. I will be happy if small piece of land measuring three feet is given to Me in charity.”

Emperor Bali wondered, “What! Such a small request! I thought You would ask for some big things. I am surprised at your small request. Is that enough? You may ask for something more.”

The young boy replied that it would be enough if His request is fulfilled. He covered the entire earth with one step and the sky with the second and was waiting to take the third step. But there was no space left for the third step.

Emperor Bali then told the boy, “Dear one! You covered the entire Earth with one step and the sky with the second. Now there is no space to set the third step. Hence, put Your foot on my head, if You wish.” So saying, he bent his head before the boy, who was none other than Lord Vishnu come in the form of Vamana Avatar. The moment Lord Vamana set His foot on the head of Emperor Bali, Bali was pushed down under its weight to the nether world! That was how Lord Vishnu liberated Bali.

The people of Emperor Bali’s Kingdom were very sad at the developments. They expressed their feelings of forlornness thus: “Oh God! Our Emperor is no more with us. He used to rear us like his own children. He is our protector. How can you live without him?” Their helplessness and agony over the separation from their beloved King were very painful. The happy event of Yajna being celebrated on a grand scale came to an abrupt end. This is an example of the saying, “Pleasure is an interval between two pains.”

As the people were thus grieving, Emperor Bali declared from the nether world, “Oh my dear children! You are all very dear to me. I will always look after your welfare, wherever I am. I will see that you do not undergo any trouble. I will protect you. You need not feel that I am away from you in a different world. Every year on this day, I shall come and see you. Commemorate this day of my coming as a festival. Take a head bath, wear new clothes, and enjoy a feast with a variety of dishes on this day.”

Since then, the people of Kerala celebrate that day as ‘Onam festival’ in remembrance of their most beloved King and protector Bali.

Emperor Bali used to do a lot of good work for the benefit of people and make them happy. This is why the people could not bear separation from their beloved King. Even today, Kerala remains a land of plenty and prosperity. Nature showers its bounty on the people of Kerala. In fact, the rains start in Kerala and then spread to the entire country. There is no dearth of food grains and drinking water in Kerala, which is nature’s gift to the people of Kerala. It is customary to see people in other states worrying about the arrival of the monsoon saying, “Oh! The rains have not yet started in Kerala.” It is a land where the omnipresent God incarnated as Lord Vamana. He may incarnate in one place but is present everywhere.

God is omnipresent, though at times He incarnates in one form at one place. God is only one, not two, though people refer to Him by different names and forms. Ekam sath viprah bahudha vadanti (truth is one, but the wise refer to it by various names). It is only our illusion to ascribe different names to God like Rama, Krishna, Govinda, Allah, Jesus, etc. The sun is only one, and it appears in different parts of the world at different times. It is now 9.00 a.m.; but it is night in the U.S.A. Similarly, the one God dwells in different people in different forms.

Do not be under the impression that God has different forms. He is beyond names and forms. Ekoham bahusyam (God is one but manifests as several beings). Divinity is present everywhere and in every country and in every individual. It is omnipresent. Since your perceptions are different, you ascribe different names and forms to the one God.

The land of Kerala is the gift of God. The people of Kerala follow the commands of the noble Emperor Bali even today. That is why the state has developed in several ways. There is no dearth of food and amenities for a happy living in Kerala. Emperor Bali provided all comforts to the people before he left for his abode. It is a small state, and densely populated. Whatever may be the size of population, people enjoy a lot of comforts, peace, and happiness in Kerala.

Of course, changes in people’s aspirations and lifestyle are taking place in recent times due to the impact of Kali Yuga, but the core of their hearts and feelings remains the same. They still follow the Vedic injunctions Sathyam vada, dharmam chara (speak truth and follow righteousness). They respect the elders and serve them with love and affection.

What could be the reason for this? Love for God. It is a land where love for God exists even today. They have fear of sin. Those who have love for God naturally develop fear of sin. Consequently, such people will have a high degree of morality in society, which is very important for its orderly functioning. Thus, the people of Kerala scrupulously observe the three principles of Daiva preethi; papa bheethi, and sangha neethi (love for God, fear of sin, and morality in society). They respect elders and give due recognition to them.

One should have morality and integrity. The same principles have been enshrined in the Vedic injunction, Sathyam vada, dharmam chara (speak truth and follow righteousness). The people of Kerala follow these two principles scrupulously in their daily lives.

It is not enough to celebrate the Onam festival with a lot of religious fervour and devotion. You have to live up to the expectations of the noble emperor Bali. It is said Matru devo bhava, pitru devo bhava, acharya devo bhava, atithi devo bhava (revere your mother, father, preceptor, and guest as God). (Mother is God, father is God, teacher is God, and guest is God). First comes the mother in that order. She gives birth to you, brings you up, and teaches you good things in your formative years. Then begins the role of father. He is your second guru. Then the teacher (guru) teaches you education to enable you to make a living in the world. And finally God takes command. Thus, your life in this physical world begins with your mother and culminates in God.

Hence, do not under any circumstances forget your mother. Love your mother more than anyone else and show her due respect. You will find that the people of Kerala respect the elders very much, particularly their mothers. They lend a helping hand and take good care of them. They keep them happy always. How fortunate are the people of Kerala to have an Emperor like Bali, whom God Himself accompanied to Vaikuntha (heaven)!

What is Onam? It is a day in which people take a good bath, wear new clothes, and pray to God with a pure heart. The people of Kerala prepare a variety of tasty dishes, particularly with banana. In fact, they prepare twelve varieties of dishes with the banana fruit. It is a unique celebration. They prepare these dishes with a pure and loving heart. Hence, they will be very tasty.

They offer these preparations first to God wholeheartedly and with a lot of devotion and then partake of it along with their family members and relations. They serve these dishes one after the other. Both the cooking and serving of the dishes is done with a pure and loving heart in the true spirit of Onam celebrations. They keep their houses clean and maintain a sacred atmosphere for God to manifest. They consider them not merely as houses, but temples of God. It is only in Kerala that such a sacred atmosphere prevails.

Even if some people have some misgivings about the festival of Onam, they get them cleared and celebrate the festival in its true spirit as a day on which Emperor Bali conferred blessings on his people from Vaikuntha (the abode of Lord Vishnu), which he ultimately reached.

It is a tapas (penance) for the people of Kerala to remember the words of Emperor Bali on this day and lead their lives accordingly in a spirit of love and service. “Love all and serve all”! There can be no greater penance for anyone.

Whomsoever you come across, offer your salutations. Even if you encounter your enemy, offer your salutations to him first. Surely, he will reciprocate your noble gesture. Thus, people have to conduct themselves with mutual love and unity. It is only such people that deserve to be called human beings. They are, in fact, the people with morality.

You have to develop such morality today. Love for God enjoins one to develop morality in society. Hence, you have to develop Daiva preethi, papa bheethi, and sangha neethi (love for God, fear of sin, and morality in society). Do not ever forget these three principles.

Those who have no morality are not human beings at all! Can a nation or race exist without morality? No! You have also to develop the qualities of humility and obedience, besides morality. This was, in fact, the message of emperor Bali to his people. If you can cultivate and develop these qualities, your life will be sanctified. - Source-

KCBC Women’s Commission releases gender policy

06 Sep 2009

KOCHI: The Women’s Commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) on Saturday released its gender policy, which includes an action plan for ensuring gender equality and the uplift of women within the Church as well as in society.

The goals of the gender policy are violence-free homes and workplaces, equal participation of women in all social activities as well as change in the mindsets of men and women to promote gender justice within families, society and in the Church.

The primary areas identified for the implementation of the action plan include education, church activities, politics, health, financial independence, science and technology and the tribal communities.

The policy suggests that March 8 could be observed as the International Women’s Day, September 8 as the Girl Child Day and November 25 as the Anti-Violence Day.

The policy also include suggestions to ensure just wages for women employees and proper allowances for the women employed in Church-run institutions as well as equal pay for equal work and land and property rights for women.

The policy also calls for the disqualification of men who engage in domestic violence, extra-marital relationships and those who are confirmed alcoholics from positions of authority in Church bodies.

The policy suggests that there should be a forum to address violence against women and the girl children in households, work places and the Church-run organisations.

The Church should also design an integrated development programme for dalit women to eradicate poverty by making budgetary allocations for its social service centres. The gender policy was released at the valedictory function of the three-day regional assembly of the KCBC Women’s Commission held at the Pastoral Orientation Centre here.

Kannur Bishop Varghese Chakkalakkal, who is also vice-chairman of the Women’s Commission, released the policy by giving a copy to Sr Lilly Francis Poovelil, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India(CBCI) Women’s Commission.

KCBC Women’s Commission chairman Mar Mathew Anikkuzhikkattil inaugurated the function. KCMS vice-president Sr Styne, KCBC executive secretary Fr Stephen Alathara, Institute of Management in Government professor Neena Joseph, KCBC Women’s Commission secretary Beena Sebastian and Rosakkutty Abraham spoke.
Express New Service

A long political love story

K.P. NAYAR ,The Telegraph Calcutta
Washington, Sept. 5: Theirs was an eight-year romance that led to a sensational marriage, the contradictions of which posed a huge dilemma in the 1960s for boys and girls in Kerala, like this writer, who were at a very impressionable age.

It was impossible for many starry-eyed idealists in schools and colleges to identify with the politics of Vayalar Ravi and Mercy who died today in Chennai after a prolonged illness. She was 63.

Their politics then relied on the strength of the Christian church and the powerful Nair Service Society to oust Kerala’s first communist government and then checkmate legendary Marxist leaders like E.M.S Namboodiripad and A.K. Gopalan who were deified in the state almost like North Korea’s “great leader”.

At the same time, in their personal lives, Ravi, a Hindu of the “backward” Ezhava caste and Mercy, a Christian, were challenging deep-rooted prejudices and obscurantism of the kind that prompted Swami Vivekananda to exclaim in 1892 on a visit to what is now Kerala that “I have wandered into a lunatic asylum”.

Of course, Ravi came from a family, in which, both his parents were freedom fighters and committed Congress workers.

Theirs was love at first sight on the very first day that Mercy enrolled at one of the few co-ed colleges in Kerala, the Maharaja’s College in Ernakulam. In the Kerala of the 1960s, though, love at first sight meant just that: there was little more to love than mere sight.

Mercy, who belonged to a very prominent, but conservative Christian family in Ernakulam, used to marvel in later life that Ravi showed the same daring in their budding romance that he showed as a student leader in taking on the communists.

After watching her from a distance for many months, Ravi -- who had already acquired state-wide recognition as a founder of the Congress Party’s student wing, the Kerala Students’ Union -- broke taboos in college and got some girl students on campus to get himself introduced to Mercy.

Kerala was in utter turmoil during those years. In the college that this writer went to in Thiruvananthapuram, just half a dozen students could make sure that classes were suspended for an entire day and violence was rampant. A favourite target of students was the American Cultural Center in the state capital.

Mercy used to say that Ravi won her heart by ensuring that every time there was a strike or violence in college, which meant several times a month, he sent one of his sidekicks -- who were in plenty -- to escort her safely home.

In later life, long after Ravi had become a national-level Congress leader, parliamentarian and Union minister, he would still be as protective about his wife. She was drawn to Congress politics as a student and later into public life because of her husband.

Once, Mercy ran out of legislative funds for a development project in her constituency when she was a member of the Kerala legislature. Ravi helped complete the project by transferring money from his MP’s development fund, which he could do as a Rajya Sabha member.

As a couple, they always thought big. Mercy’s debut in Kerala’s electoral politics was from Mala, a constituency vacated in 1996 after 30 years by the tallest Congress leader in the state, former chief minister K. Karunakaran.

Outsiders think of Kerala as a pioneering Indian state on social issues like literacy and equality for women. But even at the turn of this millennium, Mercy proved that she could do another “first” as a woman in Kerala.

Eight years ago, she became the first woman to win election to the Assembly from the conservative Christian stronghold of Kottayam.

It is ironic that 36 years after Ravi and Mercy fell in love with each other, married and had three children, their inter-religious alliance should have become controversial in Kerala’s famous Guruvayur temple.

After Ravi’s son, Ravi Krishna and his bride went to Guruvayur to seek the deity’s blessings for their Hindu marriage, temple authorities performed a ritual purifying the temple premises because Ravi Krishna’s mother, Mercy, was a Christian. The committee regretted it after Ravi kicked up a fuss.

The lasting memory of Kerala’s longest political love story will be a huge photograph that prominently hangs on a wall in Ravi’s ministerial bungalow in New Delhi. It shows Ravi affectionately leaning over Mercy’s hospital bed in her last days and kissing her on her cheek, something the couple could not have dreamt of doing in the days when they were secretly in love in Maharaja’s College.

Feasts & flowers motifs mark Onam

3 September 2009

NEW DELHI: The Krishnans, who live in a modest two-room quarter in the Travancore House, meant for the staff of Kerala House, eagerly look forward to Onam every year. The malayalee family which has been living in Delhi for the past 30 years makes sure the festival is celebrated with a grand feast and prepares the traditional `pookalam' (flower rangoli) at the doorstep of their house.

Those who visit them for Onam greetings are offered a sumptuous vegetarian meal with a variety of dishes laid out on a plantain leaf. The traditional favourites are avial (semi-dry mixed vegetable), sambhar, rasam, kalaan (yam and plantains in a buttermilk preparation), olan (pumpkin in coconut milk), payasam (kheer), papad, inchi puli (tamarind pickle), inchi thair (ginger curd) and rice, without which a meal is incomplete.

On Wednesday, Raji Krishnan woke up at 5am to prepare around 10-12 exotic dishes. "One is actually supposed to make 32 varieties, but I didn't have help or the energy. We still try to stick to tradition as much as we can.''

Onam celebrates the arrival of demon king Mahabali. Legend has that when Mahabali, the Asura (demon) king, ruled the state of Kerala nobody was poor or rich. He was so fair and judicious that even the gods felt jealous and insecure of him. To teach him a lesson, he was pushed to pathala the nether world. But it's believed that once a year during Onam, Mahabali comes and meets his people. Families prepare traditional dishes and offer floral tributes in his welcome.

And while good food certainly makes Onam special, floral tributes are another significant aspect of the 10-day harvest festival. Raji's 20-year-old daughter Jiji, along with some neighbours, participated in a floral rangoli-making competition at Kerala House on Wednesday and won the second prize.

"Today is Thiruvonam, an extremely auspicious day. The family elders gift new dresses to the younger members. Women drape traditional sarees and kids wear a blouse and lehenga called `pattuvaada'. I have been taking part in the rangoli-making competition for the past 10 years and eagerly wait for Onam. We made a small rangoli outside the house and will change it every day for 10 days. Today is the last day for floral tributes,'' said Jiji.

M Krishnan, the head of the family who works in housekeeping in Kerala House, planted a banana tree right outside the house for Onam. "Banana is a key ingredient in all our preparations. This time when I visited Kerala I got the Keral bananas specially for Onam. It's only during weddings and festivities that we eat on the banana leaf,'' he said.

He added that every malayalee strongly believes in the famous saying "kaanam vittum Onam unaam'' (I will devour even if I have to sell off all my property). "No matter whether you are rich or poor, Onam is celebrated by all with equal pomp and show,'' he said.