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Thiruvananthapuram

10 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands on Friday.
 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands today.
 
Four people were killed in south Kerala and five in south Tamil Nadu in rain-related incidents yesterday even as the authorities mounted a massive search and rescue operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
One fisherman, who was among those rescued today, died in hospital here today, taking the toll in Kerala to five, official sources said.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning of a very severe cyclone for Lakshadweep Islands this evening and said the system was likely to intensify further in the next 24 hours.
 
In a Red message issued at 1730 hours today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the system, now over the Lakshadweep  area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea, continued to move west-northwestwards with a speed of 15 kmph during the past six hours and intensified further into a "Very Severe Cyclonic Storm".
 
It lay centred at 1430 hours IST today near latitude 9.1º N and longitude 73.0º E, about 90 km north of Minicoy and 220 km south-southeast of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The IMD warned that, under the influence of the system, heavy to very heavy rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with isolated extremely heavy falls. There could be isolated heavy to very heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin also said that rainfall was very likely at many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
According to it, gale winds, with speed reaching 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradual decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds, with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be phenomenal over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and very high during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off the Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees; major damage to thatched houses, huts and kutcha houses; some damage to pucca roads; flooding of escape routes; and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops.
 
Storm surge of about one metre above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, the bulletin said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off the Kerala and Karnataka coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
Ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) were involved in the rescue efforts at sea while teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in the affected areas in the two states and units of the Indian Army were on standby to come to the aid of the civil adminstration, if necessary.
 
Official sources here said more than 220 people had been rescued from the sea by the Navy, ICG and IAF. Many of them were admitted to hospitals here for treatment, they said. 
 
Some of the fishermen were rescued by a Japanese cargo ship in the area. As many as 37 people were rescued by Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) of the Indian Navy which flew between Thiruvananthapuram and the sea.
 
The ICG said it had deployed nine ships and two Dornier aircraft in the area and rescued as many as 52 fishermen so far.
 
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The International Safety Net (ISN) had been activated to advise Merchant Traffic to render assistance to stranded fishermen, it said.
 
Among others, Indian Naval Ships Sagardhwani, Jamuna and Nireekshak were in the affected areas in the Arabian Sea. INS Sharda and Shardul are also sailing out soon to augment the search effort. Both ships were in final stages of embarking HADR items for assistance at Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, Indian Navy sources said.
 
In Poonthura, a coastal village near here, angry groups of fishermen and their families staged protests, alleging that the government had not acted in time and not done enough as far as the rescue efforts were concerned. 
 
Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, both senior leaders of the Congress, visited the area today to listen to the woes of the villagers.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told newspersons that the state government had received an alert about the cyclone only on Thursday afternoon. He said the rescue efforts were also hampered by the bad weather conditions.
 
Mr. Vijayan said all possible efforts were being made to locate and rescue the missing fishermen. He said the state government had urged the Ministry of Defence to deploy more aircraft for the search and rescue operations.
 
In Lakshadweep, the authorities had issued orders for the evacuation of people from low-lying areas in Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kavratti, Agatti, Androth, Kadamath and Amini islands.
 
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Booked for rape, Binoy Kodiyeri asked to appear before Maharashtra Police in 3 days

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The Maharashtra Police has asked Binoy Kodiyeri, son of Kerala CPI-M Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, to appear before it in three days, after a rape case was filed against him last week.
 
In her FIR, a 33-year-old Mumbai-based woman, who hails from Bihar, has alleged that Binoy sexually exploited her for several years on the promise of marriage and they have an eight-year-old child. She registered a complaint at Andheri's Oshiwara police station on June 13, after she came to know that he was already married.
 
According to her complaint, she entered into a relationship with Binoy while working at a dance bar in Dubai in 2008 and now has an eight-year-old child with him. She alleged that till 2015, Binoy even used to send her money every month.
 
The victim has handed over some crucial documents, including pictures, to the police.
 
According to the victim, she filed the FIR two months after she wrote about the matter to the CPI-M national leadership but failed to get a response from them. 
 
The CPI-M leaders now maintain that the case has nothing to do with the party. "A case against an individual needs to be defended by him," party's Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat said in New Delhi. State Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty repeated the statement on Wednesday.
 
State BJP spokesperson B. Gopalakrishnan questioned the silence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and veteran legislator V. S. Achuthanandan on the case. "Binoy should present himself for a DNA test and the CPI-M state secretary Balakrishnan should step down in the wake of this serious charge against his son," said Gopalakrishnan.
 
Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala wasn't as scathing. "Let the police probe the case but something is happening in the CPI-M, which does not augur well for them," said Chennithala.
 
IANS
 

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Doctors on strike in Kerala over assault on counterparts in Bengal

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Doctors in Kerala from both private and state-run hospitals went on a token strike on Monday in the wake of the recent assault on their counterparts in West Bengal.
 
While medicos from the private sector opted for a day-long strike with just the casualty services to be made available; those in the government sector would remain off duty for two hours from all out-patient services from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
 
At the state-run Medical Colleges, teachers would be on strike for an hour from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
 
All private clinics including dental clinics have also been asked to down their shutters for the day, a medical official said.
 
The protests are against the attack on two junior doctors in Kolkata by the family members of a dead patient in the NRS Medical College and Hospital that took place late on June 10. Doctors across the West Bengal and later across India had stopped work.
 
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Kerala medicos on strike demanding hike in stipend

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Over 3,000 post-graduate medical students and house surgeons across state-run medical college and hospitals on Friday went on a token strike demanding increase in their stipends.
 
Services at the outpatient and in-patient departments at hospitals came to a standstill following the strike.
 
However, the doctors clarified that the strike had got nothing to do with the nationwide day-long strike by medicos to express solidarity with their Kolkata counterparts.
 
"This is just a token strike and if the state government does not take up our demands seriously, we will go on an indefinite strike from June 20. Even as we are on strike today the normal functioning of the casualty services and the intensive care units are not affected," said the striking junior doctors.
 
The stipend of medical students and house surgeons was last revised in 2015.
 
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Kerala honours veteran film star Sheela with J C Daniel Award

Sheela
Sheela
Veteran actress Sheela, 76, has been honoured with the prestigious J. C. Daniel Award in recognition of her contribution to the Malayalam film industry.
 
This award is the Kerala government's top film award for a film veteran.
 
The award, which includes a cash prize of Rs 500,000 and a citation, was announced, here on Tuesday, by State Minister for Culture and Cinema A. K. Balan. It will be presented next month. 
 
Sheela, still active in the industry, along with late actor Prem Nazir holds a world record for acting in the largest number of films -- 110 -- together as heroine and hero in the 1960s and 1970s.
 
Even though she began her career in the Tamil film "Paasam" opposite M. G. Ramachandran, Sheela reigned supreme in the Malayalam industry in the sixties and seventies alongside giants such as Sathyan, Nazir, Madhu and Jayan. 
 
In the latter part of her career, she shared screen space with present-day superstars Mammootty and Mohanlal.
 
After almost a two-decade break, Sheela returned to the screen in 2003 with Malayalam film "Manassinakkare". In 2005, she won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film "Akale".
 
In a career spanning more than five decades, she has acted in close to 500 films in South Indian languages besides trying her hand at direction.
 
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Kerala youth tests positive for Nipah: Minister

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Kerala Health Minister K.K.Shailaja on Tuesday confirmed that a youth being treated at a hospital near Kochi has tested positive for Nipah virus (NiV). The test was confirmed by the Pune-based National Institute of Virology.
 
She also assured that elaborate arrangements have been made to tackle the emergency and there was no need for panic.
 
The state that witnessed 12 deaths due to NiV, with 22 positive cases reported from Kozhikode and Malappuram districts last year in May, was waiting fir the blood reports of the youth since Monday. 
 
The Ernakulam health authorities said the youth was being treated at a private hospital near Kochi.
 
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Ex-MLA axed from Congress in Kerala for praising Modi

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The Congress in Kerala on Monday expelled senior party leader A. P. Abdullakutty after he praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi following BJP's stunning victory in the Lok Sabha polls.
 
The two time Congress legislator was removed from party rolls after he pointed out that Modi is following the Gandhian model of governance. When served a show cause notice Abdullakutty failed to give a satisfactory explanation for his action, the party said.
 
The reply given by Abdullakutty was contemptuous and not satisfactory, state party chief Mullapally Ramachandran said in a press release.
 
"His explanation was not acceptable and even after being served a show cause notice for praising Modi, he continued to criticise the state party leaders. 
 
"Hence, for violating party discipline he has been ousted from the Congress party," Ramachandran's statement said.
 
Reacting to the development, Abdullakutty said the moment Ramachandran had said there was "no need to even seek an explanation, it was clear, that I will be ousted".
 
Keeping his cards close to his chest, Abdullakutty refused to clarify whether he was moving to the BJP camp.
 
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Vijayan rules out quiting as Kerala CM after poll rout

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, here on Saturday, broke his silence and told those asking for his resignation after the Left Democratic Front's (LDF) Lok Sabha polls debacle in the state that it was not a verdict against his government and therefore there was no question of him stepping down.
 
"This defeat was not expected and we see this only as a temporary setback. This verdict is not against our government and the question of stepping down does not arise," Vijayan told reporters.
 
The Chief Minister has mostly kept away from the media glare, since the Left's poor show in the Lok Sabha elections. 
 
Of the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala, the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led LDF won just one (Alappuzha) -- down from eight seats in the outgoing Lok Sabha -- and that too by a slender margin. While the Congress-led UDF romped home with the remaining 19 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to open its account in the state.
 
The Left's rout came before the 75th birthday of Vijayan, who led the Lok Sabha poll battle with tall claims of winning as many as 18 seats.
 
The CPI-M State Committee will meet for two days later this month to discuss the poll debacle.
 
However, given Vijayan's stronghold on the party, there is no one to even initiate a talk on whether it should look for an alternative to him.
 
As the longest-serving secretary of the Kerala CPI-M State Committee from 1998 to 2015, Vijayan has used his position to become the be-all and end-all of the party.
 
Traditionally, the CPI-M State Secretary always prevailed upon its Chief Minister, but Vijayan carried on unquestioned even when he became the Chief Minister given his iron-like grip on the party.
 
The only one who can challenge Vijayan at the moment is party veteran Achuthanandan but, at 95, he has little support from the ranks.
 
Even in his prime, he had to play second fiddle to Vijayan. At the height of the feud between the two in 2007, when both were suspended from the CPI-M Politburo, only Vijayan was taken back. Achuthanandan could never return to the party's highest body.
 
Vijayan knows if he quits as the Chief Minister, it would be curtains for his political career, as age is fast catching up with him and he also has health issues.
 
But the first signs that his position was safe came when State Secretary Balakrishnan defended him the day the results came and reiterated on Saturday that every time the Left suffered a setback, it bounced back stronger.
 
He said the party would introspect on its failure later this month, but maintained a stoic silence on whether there should be a change in the team's captain.
 
With none to bell the cat, Vijayan's position appears safe for now.
 
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UDF sweeps away Left in Kerala whitewash, BJP draws blank again

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With counting of votes almost done in Kerala, the Congress-led UDF had won or was winning 19 of the state's 20 seats, including Wayanad from where Congress President Rahul Gandhi contested, while the ruling CPI-M-led LDF was ahead in just one seat and the BJP again drew a blank.
 
The UDF tally included the Congress with 15, the Indian Union Muslim League with two and the Kerala Congress-Mani and the Revolutionary Socialist Party with one each.
 
This time, the UDF candidates has won with substantial margins, led by Gandhi who won by the state's highest margin of 431,770 votes.
 
A total of 10 UDF candidates won with margins of over one lakh - Shashi Tharoor from Thiruvananthapuram, P.K.Kunhalikutty in Malappuram, E. T. Mohammed Basheer in Ponnani, Remya Haridas in Alathur, Benny Behanan in Chalakudy, N. K. Premachandran in Kollam, Thomas Chazhikadan in Kottayam, Dean Kuriakose in Idukki and Hibi Eden from Ernakulam.
 
Two of them won by over 90,000 votes - K. Sudhakaran in Kannur and T. N. Prathapan in Thrissur - while K. Muraleedharan (Vadakara) and M. K. Raghavan won with over 80,000 votes.
 
The other winners include Adoor Prakash (Attingal), V. K. Sreekandan (Palakkad), Rajmohan Unnithan (Kasargode), Kodikunnil Suresh (Mavelikera), and Anto Antony (Pathanamthitta).
 
The lone LDF candidate ahead was sitting CPI-M legislator from Aroor, A. M. Ariff, who was leading with a margin of 9,213 votes in Alappuzha.
 
The highlight of the UDF's victory is that it has won the Kasargode seat for the first time since 1984, Alathur since 1991, and Palakkad and Attingal after 1996. However, the Alappuzha seat seems set to return to the CPI-M after two terms.
 
"I will like to thank (Chief Minister Pinrayi) Vijayan for the way he ran the Kerala government for three years and that was the biggest reason, I won and so did all others," said Congress strong man Sudhakaran, who won from Vijayan's home district Kannur.
 
Vijayan, who is getting "credit" from the winning UDF candidates for their victory because of the way he conducted himself after coming to power three years back, preferred to interact with the media through a statement, which termed the result "unexpected".
 
"There was a strong resentment against the BJP-led Union government and that was our campaign highlight. The electorate took up our issue and the beneficiary of this was the Congress-led UDF. We will surely introspect on what went wrong," he said in the statement.
 
E. P. Jayarajan, who is seen as the number two in the Vijayan government, contended that there was religious grouping in voting patterns and it favoured the Congress-led UDF.
 
"This is a setback and we will look into what happened. This is not against the state government. Just look, nationally the Congress has been wiped out," he said.
 
The emotive Sabarimala row in which senior BJP leaders played a key role failed to help the party open its account in the Lok Sabha battle in Kerala.
 
The usual best showing for the BJP came in Thiruvananthapuram where it finished second while ending up in the third spot in all other 19 constituencies.
 
State BJP President P. S. Sreedharan Pillai, while declining to elaborate on the impact of Sabarimala issue, told the media here their vote share has gone up, showing that the support base of the party has increased.
 
"In 2014, we had a share of 10 per cent and this time it has gone up to 16 per cent. We expected to win in a few seats but it did not happen as the two traditional rival fronts here spread canards, but our support base has grown. We will continue to be the real alternative in Kerala," he said.
 
State Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala demanded that Vijayan should step down in the wake of the near wash out of the CPI-M.
 
"The people of Kerala have rejected Vijayan and hence he should step down," said Chennithala.
 
Meanwhile, the CPI-M's M.B. Rajesh, aiming for a hat-trick of wins from Palakkad after his 2014 win with a margin of over one lakh votes, ended up losing to his Congress rival by 11,637 votes, which was the lowest margin of victory this time in the 20 constituencies.
 
All exit polls and pre-poll surveys had predicted an easy victory for Rajesh. In response, Rajesh told the media: "Not just exit polls can go wrong. But it's also too early to come to any conclusion and one thing what is happening is, there is a definite trend is emerging."
 
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Rahul wins Wayanad in Kerala with record margin

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi won from Kerala's Wayanad constituency -- the second Lok Sabha seat he contested in the 2019 polls -- with a record margin of 431,770 votes.
 
Gandhi defeated his nearest rival P. P. Suneer of the Communist Party of India who secured 274,597 votes, while Gandhi got 706,367 votes.
 
This margin of victory is the highest in the state for any Lok Sabha constituency.
 
Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who was the first person to announce the candidature of Gandhi expressed happiness at the huge victory .
 
"This result was a foregone conclusion , as right from the day his name was announced, we could sense that the people in Wayanad had accepted him. His visits to the constituency... first when he came to file his nomination and then for a day's campaign, really made every Congress worker excited," said Chandy.
 
"His presence as a candidate boosted the confidence of all the candidates and that's one reason, why we could register such a huge victory in Kerala," added Chandy.
 
In the 2014 polls, Congress candidate M. I. Shanawas won the seat with a margin of 20,970 votes. He passed away last year and since then the seat was lying vacant.
 
Gandhi, however, lost his traditional Amethi seat in Uttar Pradesh, to Union Minister Smriti Irani, by over 50,000 votes.
 
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Congress leading in 19 seats, set to sweep Kerala

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With 35 per cent counting of votes done in Kerala, the Congress-led UDF showed lead in 19 seats while the ruling CPI-M-led LDF was all but washed out as it was ahead in just one seat. 
 
Congress president Rahul Gandhi is leading the pack with a margin of over 1.60 lakh votes in Wayanad.
 
E. P. Jayarajan, senior CPI-M cabinet minister and number two in the Pinarayi Vijayan government said what has happened in Kerala is due to religious grouping in voting patterns and it favoured the Congress-led UDF.
 
"This is a setback and we will look into what happened. This is not against the state government. Just look, nationally the Congress has been wiped out," said Jayarajan.
 
In the 2014 polls, the CPI-M-led Left won eight seats.
 
At present the CPI-M is leading in just one seat -- Alappuzha, where sitting party legislator A.M. Arif is ahead of Congress candidate Shanimol Usman by around 4,000 votes.
 
While at Kasargode, Congress spokesperson Rajmohan is fighting a cliff- hanger against former CPI-M party legislator K. P. Satish Chandran, where the lead is shifting from one to the other, as each round passes and after close to 40 per cent votes was counted, Unnithan after trailing is now ahead by over 10,000 votes.
 
While the BJP was expecting to perform well and even win at least one seat, if not two, things at the moment do not look rosy for them as in Thiruvananthapuram, sitting Congress member Shashi Tharoor is ahead by over 16,000 votes, with BJP leader Kummanem Rajasekheran in second place.
 
Likewise in Pathanamthitta, where the Sabarimala temple is located, after showing initial promise, BJP candidate K. Surendran, after leading for a while, slipped to third position.
 
Congress candidate Anto Antony at Pathanamthitta said that signs are very positive as the lead has crossed 25,000 and he was extremely confident about the outcome.
 
For the CPI-M, the biggest shocker has come in three constituencies Palakkad, Alalathur and Attingal, all of which they have held for the past several terms.
 
In all these three constituencies, Congress candidates at present are sitting comfortable.
 
CPI's M. B. Rajesh, aiming for a hat-trick of wins from Palakkad after his 2014 win with a margin of over one lakh votes, was seen trailing by over 23,000 votes.
 
All exit polls and pre-poll surveys had predicted an easy victory for Rajesh. Reacting to it, Rajesh told the media: "Not just exit polls can go wrong. But it's also too early to come to any conclusion and one thing what is happening is, there is a definite trend is emerging." 
 
Congress spokesperson Joseph Vazhakan, however is confident that it will be a clean sweep.
 
"It will be 20-20 for us. We are confident, we will win at both Kasargode and Alappuzha," said Vazhakan.
 
At present three Congress-led UDF candidates Gandhi, P. K. Kunahlikutty of the IUML and Young Congress candidate Dean Kuriakose at the Idukki seat have leads in excess of one lakh votes.
 
"It was a huge support from my electorate and we are really excited that we have regained Idukki seat," said Kuriakose.
 
Places where UDF candidates were leading with a margin of over 50,000 votes include Ponnani, Kozhikode, Ernakulam, Alathur, Kottayam, Thrissur and Kollam constituencies.
 
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Kerala doctor suspended for wrong surgery on boy

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Kerala Health Minister K. K. Shailaja on Wednesday ordered the suspension of a government doctor for performing a wrong surgery on a seven-year-old boy.
 
A statement issued here by the Minister's office said that the concerned doctor has been suspended and a detailed probe was launched into the incident that took place at the Manjeri Medical College Hospital in Malappuram district.
 
"There will be no leniency shown on those who err when they engage in treating patients. Those treating patients should do it with the utmost care. A detailed probe has been ordered and the boy will now be treated at state government's expenses," Shailaja said in the statement, adding that the boy was recovering well.
 
The surgeon performed a hernia surgery, instead of nose surgery, on the boy.
 
After the incident came to light, the surgeon had first defended his move saying the boy had a hernia and the surgery was performed to remove that. But he later admitted to his mistake.
 
The goof-up occurred after another boy, who had a similar name as that of the seven-year-old, had come in for a hernia surgery.
 
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Economist Piketty to study Kerala model of growth

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said a nodal officer would be appointed to help eminent economist Thomas Piketty study the state's model of growth.
 
Vijayan said this after returning from a visit to Europe, during  which he had a detailed discussion with Piketty.
 
"On my visit to the Paris School of Economics, I had a discussion with Piketty and he mentioned a detailed study of India's economic situation was not possible as the government was unwilling to share the country's economic data," said the Chief Minister. 
 
According to Vijayan, Piketty was keen to study the Kerala model of growth if the government shared the state's economic data. "Since he said that, we have decided to appoint a nodal officer for it," said Vijayan.
 
"The French economist also expressed a wish to visit Kerala and interact with economists and universities here. We have extended an invite to him," Vijayan said.
 
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Kerala: Senior Congress leader Kadavoor Sivadasan dead

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Veteran trade unionist and senior Congress leader Kadavoor Sivadasan passed away at a private hospital here early on Friday morning, party sources said. He was 87 and was under treatment for pneumonia.
 
A four-time legislator, Sivadasan was a minister in the Cabinets of K.Karunakaran and A.K.Antony.
 
Starting his political career as a trade union leader from his home district Kollam, Sivadasan was elected MLA on a Revolutionary Socialist Party ticket in 1980 and 1982. He later switched to the Congress, on whose ticket he won the 1991 and 2001 Assembly polls.
 
Sivadasan retired from politics due to his failing health after 2006.
 
His last rites will be held at Kollam, later in the day.
 
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Re-poll ordered at four booths in 2 Kerala LS seats

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Following complaints of bogus voting, Kerala Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena on Thursday ordered re-poll in three booths in Kasargode and one in Kannur Lok Sabha constituencies on May 19.
 
This is the first time in Kerala that a re-poll has been ordered on account of bogus voting.
 
Voting at three polling booths -- Number 19, 69 and 70 -- in Kaliassery that comes under the Kasargode Lok Sabha constituency, and booth number 166 at Taliparambu in the Kannur constituency will start at 7 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. The candidates have been allowed time to campaign till Friday evening.
 
On April 27 TV channels in the state started airing visuals of three women and a man casting votes on more than one occasion at different booths in Kaliassery. 
 
On this, Meena asked the returning officer concerned to submit a report, which found the incident to be true. Soon more reports came in. Meena found that the report of bogus voting in Taliparambu was also true.
 
Meena then asked the police to register cases against 13 people, found guilty of bogus voting in these polling booths. Those found guilty include workers of the CPI-M and the Indian Union Muslim League.
 
Welcoming the decision as the first step towards cleansing of the democratic process, Kasargode Congress candidate Rajmohan Unnithan said, "It will go a long way in eliminating bogus voting, which is rampant in Kasargode."
 
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Family issues behind Kerala mother-daughter suicides

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A suicide note recovered on Wednesday from the home of the 41-year-old mother and her 19-year-old daughter, who set themselves ablaze a day before, has revealed that family issues were behind the extreme step, and was not provoked by the risk that their home would be seized by bank officials for non-repayment of housing loan.
 
Lekha and her daughter, Vaishnavi, doused themselves with kerosene and ignited the fuel in their bedroom on Tuesday. Hearing their cries, neighbours rushed in to rescue by breaking open the doors. While Vaishnavi died on the spot, her mother passed away at the hospital.
 
The police probe team that arrived on the scene on Wednesday saw mother's suicide note stuck on the wall in another room. A message written on the wall held four people are responsible for the twin suicides - Lekha's husband, Chandran, her mother-in-law, her sister and the sister's husband.
 
The note also said that Lekha was taken to a person specializing in black magic.
 
Speaking to the media later, the police official investigating the case said there was no mention of any bank recovery proceedings in the note, which said that Lekha was being constantly harassed by her mother-in-law.
 
"The letter reveals everything and we have taken all the four into custody and have recorded their arrest. The charge levelled at the moment is that of abetting suicide and the probe will continue," the official said.
 
Chandran, however, told reporters that he has no clue about why he has been taken into custody by the police.
 
"I was abroad and returned just six months back. I knew that my mother and my wife were often engaged in verbal duels. I have no other clue at all," said Chandran, while his mother said she is also innocent and has done no wrong.
 
"I had given my consent to sell the house, after recovery proceedings began. I have done nothing wrong," Chandran's mother said.
 
There was a huge public outcry on Tuesday after it surfaced that Canara Bank officials have been after the family for recovery of the balance of housing loan.
 
On Wednesday morning, various political outfits protested against the Canara Bank, while Congress party activists went on a rampage here causing damage to the regional office of the bank.
 
Thereafter, three branches of the bank near the home of the suicide victims remained shut as a matter of precaution.
 
The protests were called off, however, when it emerged that the suicides were provoked by family issues.
 
In an official statement on Tuesday, Canara Bank had said Chandran had availed a Rs 5 lakh loan in 2005, which was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in 2010, and that legal proceedings had been initiated in the matter.
 
IANS
 

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2 in custody for smuggling gold worth Rs. 8 crore in Kerala

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Two people on Monday were nabbed from the Thiruvananthapuram airport and taken into custody for carrying 25 kg gold worth Rs 8 crore.
 
Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officials seized the gold bars and took into custody the two people, who had arrived from Oman. 
 
Officials have been maintaining a strong vigil at the airport after they made a few seizures in the past six months where the airport staff was also found to be involved in the smuggling. 
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Scoot commences daily flights between Trivandrum and Singapore

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Scoot, the low-cost arm of the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group, launched its daily Trivandrum-Singapore flights from Tuesday.
 
The inaugural flight took off from Singapore at about 8.40 pm local time and reached Trivandrum at approximately 10.00 pm local time.
 
Offering a capacity of 180 seats per flight, the daily return service is operated on Scoot’s fleet of narrowbody Airbus A320-family aircraft, a press release from the airline said.
 
According to it, the route had been transferred from sister airline SilkAir, and Scoot’s daily frequency is an increase from SilkAir’s previous five-times-weekly schedule. 
 
"This offers customers more choices and greater convenience, as well as boosts Trivandrum’s connectivity with Singapore and the world. For example, customers can book seamless connecting flights from Trivandrum to Singapore and onwards to the wider SIA group network destinations, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles in the US," it said.
 
In addition to cheaper fares, Scoot offers travelers a variety of convenient and hassle-free options for them to tailor how they want to travel, the release said.
 
Vinod Kannan, Scoot Chief Commercial Officer, said, “The transfer of SilkAir’s services to Scoot is intended to further optimise the SIA Group’s resources and present a better match of capacity to demand. Scoot is well-poised to provide competitive pricing for quality services that will appeal to customers in Trivandrum, thereby strengthening Scoot’s presence in the India market.”
 
Underscoring Scoot’s commitment to growing the India market, the airline has a dedicated India General Manager and a local General Sales Agent, Elements Aviation, overseeing overall sales for Scoot’s eight India cities, namely Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Lucknow, Tiruchirappalli, and Trivandrum. Scoot also has a dedicated sales manager to oversee sales in Trivandrum.
 
Johanes Ong, Scoot India General Manager, said, “Singapore is one of the preferred destinations for Indians for business and leisure tourism, and this new route will definitely strengthen the connectivity between both countries. We are confident that customers will consider Scoot their preferred carrier due to our affordable fares and comprehensive offerings.”
 
Customers from Trivandrum can connect to nearly 60 destinations on Scoot’s network, including in countries such as Singapore, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Greece, Germany and more, the release said.
 
Trivandrum is the first of three new cities in India that Scoot will launch in 2019 -- the others being Coimbatore and Visakhapatnam, the release added.
 
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Father of legal education Madhava Menon dead

N. R. Madhava Menon
N. R. Madhava Menon
Considered as the tallest figure in modern legal education, N. R. Madhava Menon passed away early on Wednesday, here at a private hospital, said family sources. He was 84.
 
Menon was unwell and was hospitalised a few days back.
 
He was the Founder Director of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and the National Judicial Academy, Bhopal, besides the Founder Vice Chancellor of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS).
 
Beginning his legal career as an advocate at the Kerala High Court in 1956, Menon shifted his base to Delhi, after first joining the faculty of Aligarh Muslim University in 1960 and then to Delhi University in 1965, where he became Professor and Head of the Campus Law Centre.
 
In 1986, Menon moved to Bangalore at the invitation of Bar Council of India to set up the National Law School of India University and to initiate a new model of legal education, the Five-Year Integrated LL.B. programme.
 
After his retirement, he settled in the capital city and served as the chairman of the prestigious Centre for Development Studies here for two terms, before calling it a day a few years back.
 
He is survived by his wife and son. His last rites would be conducted at the state-owned crematorium later in the day.
 
IANS

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Kerala expects Rs 3,596-crore World Bank loan for rebuilding

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Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, after a high level meeting here on Monday to discuss the 'rebuild Kerala' initiative in aftermath of the worst-ever floods that hit the state last year, indicated that the World Bank will provide a Rs 3,596 crore loan for rebuilding activities covering various sectors.
 
He said that the World Bank has, in principle, agreed to this sum, provided that state government also chips in with 30 per cent which would work out to be around Rs 1,541 crore.
 
"From what we have gathered is that the World Bank sanction of the loan is expected to come in June, when this would be taken up in their meeting then. In the present fiscal, an amount of Rs 1541 crores would be utilized for rebuilding activities," Vijayan added.
 
The disaster, which began with rains at the end of May last year and continued in three stages till the middle of August, had claimed 483 lives and at the height of the deluge, there were 14.5 lakh people in over 3,000 relief camps.
 
Various agencies had assessed the total damages to life and property in the deluge were in excess of Rs 30,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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10 voters drop dead in Kerala during LS polls

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At least 10 deaths were reported from various places in Kerala on Tuesday while polling was underway for 20 Lok Sabha seats in the state. However, the Election Commission said it had nothing to do with voting.
 
The state poll panel asked the district collectorate to compile the figures as the incidents were reported in Kasargode, Kollam, Kannur, Ernakulam, Wayanad among others when Kerala voted in the third phase of the staggered process. 
 
Among the dead was 84-year-old Rosamma in Kottayam, who fell unconscious as she was trying to enter an auto rickshaw to take her to the polling booth.
 
Three deaths were reported from Kannur district, where Venugopal collapsed soon after he returned home after casting his vote. He was rushed to a hospital, but could not be saved.
 
Mustafa, 52, from Tellicherry passed away at a polling station, while Vijaya, 65, collapsed while waiting in queue at a polling booth in Chokli.
 
Theresiyamma, 87, died after collecting her voter slip inside a booth near Ernakulam. 
 
The other deaths were reported from Kollam where a 63-year-old man while speaking to a polling official developed uneasiness, collapsed and died.
 
In Wayanad, a tribal man Balan, 64, collapsed when on his way to cast his vote. In Alappuzha, too, Prabhakaran, 74, died on his way to a booth.
 
Papachen, 67, from Ranni died while waiting in the voting queue.
 
One middle-aged Baburaj while on his way to cast his vote at a booth in Kasargode also collapsed and died.
 
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Three Indians killed in Sri Lanka blasts

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Three Indians are among those killed in the suicide bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced.
 
The Minister quoted the Indian High Commission as saying that it had been informed by the National Hospital in Colombo about the death of three Indian nationals: Lokashini, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh. 
 
"We are ascertaining further details," the Minister said.
 
Earlier, an IANS report from Thiruvananthapuram said a Kerala woman holidaying in Colombo was among those killed in suicide bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, authorities said.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed condolences over the death of 58-year-old P.S. Razeena, who arrived in the Sri Lankan capital along with her husband to meet their relatives engaged in business in Colombo.
 
Razeena and her husband, who hail from Kasargode in Kerala, live in Dubai and were staying at one of the three hotels in Colombo targeted on Sunday by suicide bombers.
 
A spokesperson for the state agency of the Kerala diaspora told the media that they were talking to the Indian High Commissioner's office in Colombo to see that Razeena's body was brought to Kerala.
 
IANS
 

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Congress' Wayanad message is appeasement: Modi

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Slamming Congress President Rahul Gandhi for contesting from Wayanad in Kerala, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed out that the only message that's being sent out is appeasement politics.
 
Modi arrived in the state capital on Thursday night to campaign for the NDA candidates contesting in Kerala.
 
Taking on Gandhi, Modi said what's happening now is not politics, it's only self-interest and opportunistic politics.
 
"The Congress says there is a message behind his (Rahul Gandhi) choosing to contest from Wayanad. But the message could have been sent if the contest was from Thiruvanathapuram. If not, the contest could have taken place in Pathanamthitta (where Sabarimala temple is located). Had it happened, an even bigger message could have been sent out," said Modi.
 
Modi assured the gathering that when votes are counted on May 23 and the new government assumes office, the faith, culture and traditions will be protected through democratic means.
 
"The BJP stand is very clear while the Congress is playing a double game. They say one thing in Delhi and another in Kerala. The CPI-M has no belief in faith, culture or tradition. What they have done here is to register false cases against those who protested to protect the culture and tradition. As long as I am the 'chowkidar', I will not allow these to be destroyed ," said Modi.
 
He also took on the Pinarayi Vijayan government and pointed out that it's a corrupt one.
 
"Even the Chief Minister is caught in the midst of the Lavalin case and so are other ministers. It has now come out that the floods that hit the state were manmade. Even the compensation for those affected has been diverted. Such a government cannot remain in office any more," said Modi.
 
He also reminded the people that his government in the past five years has put country on the fast track of development, be it in land, sea, air or space.
 
"The 'chowkidar' of the country has empowered the scientists of the country who have come out with technology which will ensure the country's protection. The Congress never had the courage to take such decisions and when it came to hounding scientists, they did that. Your own scientist Nambi Narayanan was a victim of the Congress party," said Modi.
 
He pointed out that the elections are not meant for just putting up a new government.
 
"This election will determine the aspiration of building a new India. It's whether India should pave the way forward or it should follow others," said Modi.
 
Modi said for a strong government which will protect the country, a 'chowkidar' is needed and for that, all should vote for the NDA.
 
Modi arrived almost two hours late and left after his speech.
 
The BJP does not have a single Lok Sabha member from Kerala. It is expecting to open its account this time: It has high hopes from Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency, where the party has fielded former Mizoram governor Kummanem Rajasekheran.
 
He is pitted against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor who is aiming for a hat-trick of wins. Also in the fray is senior CPI legislator C. Divakaran.
 
In 2014, BJP candidate O. Rajagopal finished a close second, while in all the remaining 19 constituencies , the NDA candidates finished a distant third.
 
IANS

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Nirmala Sitharaman visits Shashi Tharoor in hospital

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday visited Congress leader Shashi Tharoor in the hospital where he was admitted after suffering an injury in a freak accident a day earlier.
 
Tharoor was performing a ritual at a temple in the Kerala capital on Monday when he injured himself.
 
Praying while seated on the weighing balance, the chains holding the balance broke and fell on Tharoor's head, requiring him to get eight stitches.
 
The Congress MP said he was touched by Sitharaman's gesture of civility, which he called a rare virtue in Indian politics.
 
"Touched by the gesture of Nirmala Sitharaman, who dropped by today (Tuesday) morning to visit me in the hospital, amid her hectic electioneering in Kerala. 
 
"Civility is a rare virtue in Indian politics -- great to see her practice it by example," Tharoor tweeted.
 
Tharoor is engaged in a tough three-way electoral battle for the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat with former Mizoram Governor K. Rajasekheran of BJP and CPI's C. Divakaran, a sitting legislator and former state Minister.
 
IANS
 

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Shashi Tharoor injured as chain in temple gives way

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Shashi Tharoor, aiming for a hat-trick of wins as the Congress candidate for the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat, suffered a freak accident while performing a ritual at a temple near here on Monday, leading to eight stitches on his head.
 
After preliminary celebrations at his home here on Vishu, the traditional New year festival, Tharoor left for the popular Gandhari Amman temple.
 
Praying while seated on the weighing balance, as part of a temple ritual, the chains holding the balance broke and fell on Tharoor's head. He was rushed to the state-run general hospital. 
 
Tharoor's wounds needed eight stitches and he was taken for scanning, the doctors said, adding that the Congress leader's condition was now normal. 
 
Tharoor is engaged in a tough three-way electoral battle with former Mizoram Governor Kummanem Rajasekheran of BJP and CPI's C. Divakaran, a sitting legislator and former state Minister.
 
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Tharoor scraped through with a margin of around 15,000 votes aginst BJP's O. Rajagopal, who is now an MLA.
 
IANS
 

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