Woman injured in Nadapuram during black magic ritual

A 37-year-old Keralite from Purameri was apprehended by the Nadapuram police on Monday for performing black magic on a woman. The accused, A. Najima was detained and remanded to judicial custody on 20th February, after the victim, Shemina (27) was severely burnt when a black magic ritual went awry.

The victim approached Najima, who was staying in Purameri, to enlist her services, seeking remedy for some personal problems, according to the Nadapuram police. Shemina allegedly told the local police that a fire broke out in the flat due to the Najima’s failed attempts to stoke a fire. Najima poured petrol directly into the “Homa Kundam,” a ceremonial fire which was prepared as part of the ritual. Shemina, a citizen of Vellayil, was admitted to a private hospital in Nadapuram.

The victim suffered 60 per cent burns in the incident, and will require extensive treatment. The arrested individual was charged under sections 324 (voluntarily inflicting harm by dangerous weapons) and 308 (attempt to carry out culpable homicide). The accused was later sentenced to a 14-day stint in judicial custody.

 

SOURCES-

1.DNA INDIA-http://www.dnaindia.com: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-woman-held-for-practising-black-magic-injuring-one-in-kerala-2329775

2. THE HINDU-http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/black-magic-practitioner-arrested-from-nadapuram/article17337953.ece

3. Image Source: ipleader.in

Stray dog menace: Magic collars to the rescue

In the wake of rapidly increasing stray dog nuisance in Kerala, the state government hastily announced to cull ‘violent dogs’, setting off a huge uproar among animal lovers galore, earlier in August.

Pressures have been mounting upon the government, whilst instances of the menace intensified in the state. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court while accepting compassion towards the animal also declared firmly that these strays shouldn’t be an annoyance to the public.

With the stray dog population steeply snowballing, dog bites aren’t the only concern to be looked closely at. These canines are also the cause of numerous hit and runs, an on-going nightmare to motorists. Tackling this problem with a novel initiative is Chennai based animal welfare NGO, People for Cattle in India (PFCI), which has introduced glowing, reflective collars for strays, in an aim to prevent road mishaps.

“Low-visibility on roads is one of the pivotal reasons for the motorists to get into accidents. Wandering stray dogs aren’t doing these drivers any help,” explains Arun Prasanna, founder of the project.

PFCI which started out as an animal rescue service, used to get abundant calls regarding animal accidents in the city. Disturbed by the alarming number, the organisation first approached local truck drivers and motorists, which triggered Arun to ideate magic collars.

Made of reflective cloth with orange nylon, the collars are claimed to be visible at a distance of 1000 feet in the dark, giving the motorist enough time to swerve without any setbacks. Menially priced at Rs 65 a piece, these magic collars are not just restricted to canines. The NGO is looking at fitting these glowing Velcro collars to cattle too.

Inspired by a similar initiative in Pune (motopaws), PFCI has now covered over 2,000 dogs in the city and 4,000 in other parts of the country. They are further looking at a target of 10,000 dogs just for Chennai, by the end of the year.

“Stray dogs play a very important role in the society. To call them a menace is anything but appropriate,” he retorts to the SC announcement. “Culling programs are often futile and new dogs will replace the space in no time,” he continues.

“When the Government can tackle various problems like garbage, rodents, burglars and many others, why can’t they find an amicable solution to handle stray dogs,” he declares.

Former excise minister Babu’s residence raided

The former Kerala excise minister K Babu’s residence in Kochi has been raided by the Vigilance department and Anti-Corruption Bureau. Officials said to DNA that it is a case of disproportionate assets. The raid is being done by five groups of the Vigilance officials. It is been headed by two DySPs, from Vigilance special. The official said they started at 8 am.

The official told to DNA that the searches have been conducted at Babu’s residence in Thrippunithura and his daughters’ residences in Palarivattam in Ernakulam district and Thodupuzha in Idukki district. The officials added that raids are also being carried out at the residences of two of his friends–Baburam and Mohanan- at Vyttila and Kumbalam in Ernakulam district.

He also added that the process had taken place after a Thrippunithura-based anti-corruption organisation filed a complaint. Earlier in February, Babu had been given a clean chit by the Vigilance department in a Quick Verification Report (QVR) in a special court. It had been reported that there was no evidence to support the case. He had also been accused of taking the bribe for the renewal of bar license.

With the series of accusations, Babu resigned, but later he came back to the cabinet completing the QVR. He was defeated by CPI  (M)’s M Swaraj in Thrippunithura constituency in Kerala elections 2016.

Source: DNA  The Indian Express

Bharat Bandh creates stir in Kerala and West Bengal; Maharashtra, Delhi least affected

The nationwide trade union strike, which commenced on September 2 has hit some parts of India majorly, but has not created much impact in states like Maharashtra and Delhi. Kerala, West Bengal and some areas of Karnataka have been badly affected by this strike.

Public transport services in Kerala were dismissed, with schools,shops and companies also being closed. Many passengers remained stranded on the roads of Thiruvananthapuram and other places of the state due to this occurrence.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had declared that factories and transport would run as usual in West Bengal, however clashes did take place between the strikers and police there with the left parties supporting the strike.
Bharat Bandh has also affected the banking sector in India. Except for State Bank of India, all other Public sector banks remained shut. But the private sector banks have continued their functioning in many parts of the nation. The workers of Coal India Ltd. have also gone on strike.
Millions of workers have joined this strike to protest against the investment and new labor policies of the Modi government. Finance minster Arun Jaitley tried to convince the workers to call off the strike by announcing the release of state employees bonus, however the unions rejected this offer and went ahead with the protest.

Kerala’s canine trouble

Ever since a 65-year-old woman was killed by a pack of 50 stray dogs in Thiruvananthapuram a few days ago, Kerala has been fuming over the increased stray dog attacks in the state and the government inaction towards curbing this menace.

Stray dog attacks are not unfamiliar to people of Kerala. Over the years, the state has been witnessing a steep rise in number of stray canine attacks and the demand for culling of dogs has been getting louder and louder by each passing year. Statistics from Kerala’s health department show that more than 1 lakh cases of dog bites have been reported in the state from 2014. However, due to proper awareness and access to health care facilities, the death toll in past two years has been contained at less than 15.

With people taking to streets to express their anger, the newly formed LDF government in the state has come out strongly on the issue. Local administration minister KT Jaleel said that strong measures would be taken to control stray canine attacks and said that there was no legal bar on killing violent dogs. The statement, however, did not go down well with animal lovers and animal rights activists in the state as well as the country. The minister’s comment drew a lot of flak from Maneka Gandhi, Union minister for Women and Child Development. Ms Gandhi, who is also an animal right activist, said that killing of dogs is unlawful and unscientific. “I am totally with the people of Kerala but killing dogs is not the solution and the law would be broken,” she said. Adding to this, she blamed the stray dog menace on the rapid urbanisation and poor waste management in the state.

Noted Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan also wrote to the Kerala government saying that he would go to the court against the government’s decision of culling stray dogs. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, however, was prompt in replying. Clearing the air, the CM said that the government was only planning to carry out mass sterilisation camps for the stray dogs and that Mr Bhushan got carried away by misleading reports in the media. Further, in his reply letter, the CM also ensured Mr Bhushan that sterilisation would be done only by qualified veterinary doctors and that the dogs undergoing surgery will be given all necessary health care facilities.

This is not the first time that Kerala is at the receiving end of backlash from animal lovers across the country. In July 2015, amidst reports of increased stray dog attacks, former chief minister Oommen Chandy passed an order asking local administrators to carry out euthanasia on aggressive and rabid dogs. Several petitions were filed against the government and protest marches were held across the country asking people to boycott Kerala and its tourism.

Coming back to the current crisis in the state, the government is now facing a dilemma with respect to formulating a perfect solution to the stray dog menace.

In a recent announcement, the local self-government department has ordered the setting up of a stray dog rehabilitation zoo in every district Panchayat. The order has also called for a pet policy, which will make licensing mandatory for pet owners. A slew of other measures have also been proposed by a cross-section of society.

Even though the state government is bombarded with solutions to deal with the stray dog issue, the final call rests with the Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition seeking legal clearance for culling of stray dogs.

Kerala to be declared India’s first open-defecation free state on November 1

Adding another feather to its cap, Kerala will declare itself as India’s first open-defecation free state on November 1, coinciding with the date on which the state was officially formed. This would be one among the many milestones Kerala has achieved in terms of social indicators of development.

It is no surprise that the newly formed LDF government in the state, led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a grand ceremony to celebrate the achievement as the toilets were constructed under the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, a brain child of PM Modi.

A total of more than 1.90 lakh toilets are being constructed across 941 gram panchayats in the state. Suchitwa Mission, a nodal agency for sanitation in Kerala, is spear-heading the campaign and is undertaking all the necessary efforts to complete its target by November 1. With a total budget of Rs 308 crore, the agency has been building toilets for individual houses along with government institutions and community toilets.

After the state government declaration on November 1, a central team will later visit the state and endorse the declaration after due inspection.

The first step towards achieving the status of an open-defecation free state started with the Muhamma Panchayat in Alappuzha district declaring itself as Kerala’s first open-defecation free panchayat on 2 June, 2016. The local administration had built around 281 toilets for houses that lacked sanitation facilities.

In terms of the funding, after carrying out a proper inspection, the Panchayat provided a total of Rs 13,500 for each house that constructed a toilet. Of the total amount, Rs 10,000 was funded by the Suchitwa Mission and Rs 3500 came from the Panchayat.

However, replicating the Muhamma model in every Gram Panchayat of Kerala was not an easy task for Suchitwa Mission, considering the state’s geographic conditions. Talking about the challenges that came in the way of execution of the scheme, K Vasuki, Executive Director of Suchitwa Mission said that the team experienced technical difficulties at various stages of construction work in areas that were affected by water-logging and water scarcity and also hilly regions. However, the agency overcame these problems by adopting right construction strategies and region-friendly toilet designs after taking into consideration the advice of technical experts.

Adding to this, she said that the agency is also planning to carry out awareness campaigns across the state about the importance of following good sanitation practices and other related matters. This is an extremely important element of the ODF programme as mere construction of toilets does not put an end to the practice of open defecation. Many sections of the society refrain from using toilets due to variety of socio-cultural reasons.

Hence, this aspect of ODF programme has to be given special importance, especially in areas like Attappadi, which is dominated by tribal population.Having constructed toilets, the state government should now focus on ensuring that these toilets are used by people, failing which it will remain as a mere construction bonanza.

DIFFERENCES OVER CPI(M)’s LATEST APPOINTMENT

 The appointment of Harvard Economist Gita Gopinathan as the economic advisor to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has created a wave of tension within the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in the state.

The reason for such differences is, she is thought to advocate neo-liberal economics while the CPI(M) stays farther away from such grounds. Her appointment has brought in criticisms from several Left sympathizers and Party leaders. Their concerns largely revolve around the potential ideological clashes that might occur within the party due to this appointment. 

Her extensive period of service in the West and associations with the US Government, World Economic Forum and the International Monetary Fund-names that do not go hand-in-hand with socialist activities may be a major cause of concern for CPI(M). The party at the center has asked for answers regarding such an appointment from the state.

As reported by Livemint, an MP of the party expressed concerns over the party’s developmental agenda for the state and Gopinathan’s potential diversion in neo-liberal agenda. On the other hand, Pinarayi Vijayan told The Indian Express, “For us, she is one of the leading world economists with roots in Kerala. What is wrong in asking her views and opinions on world economy and make use of whatever we want? As long as our stand is clear, there is no need for a worry on any departure from the party line.” 

With differences within the party in the state, further developments in the case is yet to be seen.