KOTTAYAM l THURSDAY l JULY 16, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l CITY EDITION ELECTION COMMISSIONER LAVASA NAMED V-P OF ADB Ashok Lavasa was next in line to head the poll panel. He can take the new job only after resigning from his current position 2ND PERSON TO LEAVE POLL PANEL MID-WAY Lavasa, who would have retired as the Chief Election Commissioner in October 2022, would be the second election commissioner to step down from the poll panel before the completion of his term. The last time an election commission put in his papers was in 1973 when CEC Nagendra Singh was appointed a judge in the International Court of Justice, Hague ■ CEC HAD OPPOSED CLEAN CHIT TO MODI, SHAH ■ During the 2019 LS polls, Lavasa dissented with ECI’s decision to give clean chit to PM Narendra Modi and former BJP president Amit Shah on charges of violating Model Code of Conduct Election Commission sources said Lavasa is yet to resign from the poll body as he is due to join the ADB only in September SUSHIL CHANDRA WILL NOW BE THE NEXT IN THE LINE FOR THE TOP POST CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Notice issued to rebels, Gehlot goes for the kill R A J E S H A S N A N I @ Jaipur A DAY after taking away all party and government positions from Sachin Pilot and his loyalist lawmakers to crush their revolt, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot went for the kill, as Assembly Speaker C P Joshi slapped disqualification notices on them. It also brought clarity on the size of the rebellion, as notices were served on 19 lawmakers, holding them accountable for anti-party activities for skipping two back-to-back Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meetings. They have till Friday noon to respond in writing. Pilot was Gehlot’s deputy and PCC president till the axe fell. Rajasthan Cong ress in charg e Avinash Pandey turned the screw further, saying if the 19 MLAs do not respond within two days, it will be presumed that they are giving up their CLP membership. While the dominant Gehlot camp hopes a few rebels would jump ship, it expects the disqualification of the rest will bring down the simple majority mark in the Assembly (101 now) and help clear the floor test. Gehlot claimed he already has the support of 106, including allies and Independents. For his part, Pilot said he had no plans of joining the BJP. “I would like to make it clear that I have no plans to join the BJP Pilot said. ,” But Gehlot was rather blunt in his counter. “Horse-trading was being done in Jaipur in Our deputy CM and PCC president himself was doing the deal and giving statements that there was no horse-trading... Speaking good English or giving a byte is not everything Ashok Gehlot, chief minister the run up to the Rajya Sabha elections. We have proof. We had to keep people at a hotel for 10 days at that point. If we had not done that, the same thing that is happening in Manesar now would have happened back then,” the chief minister pointed out. As for the Congress high command, it wanted all the rebels to refuse the BJP’s hospitality in Haryana’s Manesar resort and return, if there was to be any possibility of raproachment. “Stop all conversations with them (BJP) and come back to your home in Jaipur,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told Pilot. NIA, Customs turn the screws on Sivasankar Sleuths seize his mobile phone during nine-hour interrogation, raids his apartment for the second time EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ T’Puram NOOSE is tightening around Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s for mer secretary M Sivasankar, who was grilled by the Customs department for nine hours on Tuesday. Piling pressure on him, Arun Balachandran, the CM’s former IT Fellow, revealed that the apartment which was used by goldsmuggling case accused Swapna Suresh and two others, was taken on rent with the help of Sivasankar. Arun was removed from the post in the evening. The Customs had seized Sivasankar’s mobile phone on Tuesday night itself and it will be sent to the C-DAC for forensic examination to retrieve data and find out if it was tam- Noose tightens around bureaucrat Apartment used by gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh was taken on rent with Sivasankar’s help, says the CM’s former IT Fellow Arun Balachandran The Customs department seized CM’s former secretary M Sivasankar’s mobile phone during nine-hour grilling National Investigation Agency raided Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited, where M Sivasankar was the chairman and Swapna Suresh worked pered with. On Wednesday the , department raided Sivasankar’s flat for a second time. Further, the NIA raided Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL), where Sivasankar was the chairman. LAC TALKS WERE TOUGH, DRAGGED ON FOR 14 HRS M AYA N K S I N G H @ New Delhi A day after the 14-hour marathon meeting of the Lieutenant General-level commanders of India and China, there is no official word on its outcome, indicating the tough nature of the talks. The Army is still analysing the discussions, which began on Tuesday 11:30 am and stretched up to Wednesday 2:00 am, sources said. A senior Army officer said, “Internal deliberations are still on. Only after that can something concrete be said.” Depsang and Finger 4 were the important stress points for deliberations during the meeting between Indian Army’s Lt Gen Harinder Singh and Major Gen Lin Liu of the Chinese PLA at Chushul. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has decided to visit the frontlines both at the Line of Actual Control with China and the Line of Control with Pakistan on July 17 and 18. A person aware of the developments said the minister may announce the salient points of LAC deliberations when he visits Leh on July 17. On Wednesday, a Defence Acquisition Council meeting chaired by the minister granted special powers to the armed forces to purchase weapons and equipment worth up to `300 crore to meet their emergent operational requirements. Don blinks, lets foreign students have visa Police assault on Dalit couple after suicide bid; Collector, SP suspended P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi IN what appeared to be an attempt to normalise excesses, the Guna district administration in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday defended police assaults on a Dalit couple who had attempted suicide after their standing crops were crushed to evict them. The state government later tried to limit damage by suspending the Guna District Collector and Superintendent of Police while ordering a high level probe. The assault happened in the Jagatpur Chak area of Guna on Tuesday. FOLLOWING outrage and several lawsuits. the Donald Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded the order that would have barred the entry of foreign students, with full online classes, into the US. The Immigration and Custom Enforcement, in an order on July 6, had said no foreign students would be allowed to continue residence or enter the US if their classes had shifted completely to online mode due to the coronavirus p a n d e m i c. The move was likely to affect thousands of Indian students. Following the order, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on July 8 dragged the Trump administration to court saying that the order was both reckless and unlawful. On Tuesday, before the hearing in a Boston district court, the judge announced that the US government and the two universities had come to an agreement to drop the new guidelines and restore status quo. “The government has agreed to rescind the decision,” District Judge Allison Burroughs said. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Bhopal Also, the couple’s children were roughly pushed away and their relatives allegedly assaulted by the police. While the revenue department claimed the family was squatting on land allotted for a college, the Dalits claimed they were doing share-cropping on the land since long and had paid `3 lakh for it. “We’ve been farming on it for a long time. When our standing crop was destroyed by a JCB, we didn’t have any option other than committing suicide. We’ve a debt burden of `3 lakh on our heads,” the couple Ram Kumar and Savitri Bai said. The JCB was brought in as the revenue department wanted them evicted so as to build a boundary wall. Before his suspension, Collector S Vishwanath said, “Our team acted only after the couple consumed pesticide to rush them to hospital. Had they not acted, the couple could have died and the situation snowballed. The couple is now out of danger.” According to the administration, around 45 bighas land at that site was grabbed by local mafia don Gabbu Pardi. He loaned `3 lakh to the Dalit family and used them as a front to prevent eviction, the sources claimed. Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta is expected to submit a report on Sivasankar soon Swapna had worked there before being shunted out for her alleged role in smuggling. Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta is expected to submit a report on Sivasankar soon. Rape convict ex-priest seeks bail to marry survivor E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Kochi ROBIN Vadakkumcheril, former vicar of St Sebastian Church, Kottiyoor, who was convicted of raping a minor, approached the Kerala High Court on Wednesday seeking a two-month interim bail to marry the survivor, who is now 20. Robin said the Pope has dispensed him from all priestly obligations including celibacy , hence nothing stops him from getting married. He added their three-year-old child is in a children’s home in Kannur under the supervision of the C h i l d We l f a r e Committee (CWC). The Pocso special court in Thalassery had sentenced Robin to 20 years’ rigorous imprisonment and slapped a `3-lakh fine on him. According to the prosecution, the first accused lured the survivor to his bedroom in May 2016 and raped her. The girl became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy on February 2, 2017. Robin stated in the petition that though the families of both him and the survivor had repeatedly approached the CWC seeking custody of the child, it was denied saying that they were not married. The panel further stated since the father of the child is a prisoner, the custody application could not be considered on ● More on P4 merit. STRUGGLE CONTINUES Employment is a mirage in rural Jharkhand M U K E S H R A N J A N @ Ranchi AFROZ Kotwar (25) has made several rounds of his city Gumla (Jharkhand) looking for a job ever since lockdown forced him to return to his village Malgo under Bharno block. There is no job for him. Soon, he would have to go back to Mysore to earn a living to support his five-member family, which includes his ageing mother, two sisters and his wife. Afroz worked as a labourer at a stone crusher plant in Mysore, ear ning `10,000 a month along with free food and lodging. When lockdown forced a sudden halt to commercial activities, he had no place to go other than his home in Gumla, which he reached in 16 days, cycling and hitchhiking. “I am without work for more than a month. No one from the state government has contacted me for a job under MGNREGA or under any other scheme. If the situation persists, I will have to move out looking for job opportunities in other states,” says Afroz. Another youth, Sheikh Ar- The revelations made by A r u n d i re c t ly p o i n t s t o Sivasankar’s role in the issue. According to him, the apartment near the Secretariat was taken on rent for Swapna’s husband Jayashankar. The Customs had earlier received infor mation that an official named Arun was the one who arranged the apartment. Its caretaker had claimed that Arun introduced himself as an official at the CMO and placed a query for taking an apartment on rent. Arun told mediapersons that he was the one who contacted the caretaker. Arun said Sivasankar had asked him to check the availability of the apartment saying it was for his friend and family . As per the screenshot of the ch at b e t we e n A r u n a n d Sivasankar which is now on public domain, the latter had asked Arun to check for a twobedroom service apartment from May 31 for a maximum of six days. Sources said Arun was told that the apartment was for Sivasankar’s friend who wanted to shift his house. Since the new place was not ready, the family required a temporary stay for six days. The rent was apparently negotiated by Arun on behalf of Sivasankar. The Customs had earlier found out that the plan to smuggle gold was launched in ● More on P4 this apartment. RESULTS OUT 99.28% 85.13% pass rate for T’Puram region in CBSE X exams students pass state Plus-Two exams Students from Kerala and Lakshadweep once again recorded the highest success rate among various regions in the country. The success rate this time is 0.8% higher than last year’s pass percentage of 84.33. Of the 3.75 lakh students, 3.19 lakh passed. Monsoon has been playing hide and seek, leaving the mercury level fluctuating in the state. And for this elderly person who could not bear the afternoon heat, the water kept in a tank at Poojapura, Thiruvananthapuram, for the public to clean their hands in the time of Covid-19 came in handy | VINCENT PULICKAL 60% asymptomatic as local spread spirals EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @T’Puram THE rapidly worsening coronavirus situation in the state turned grim with the revelation that 60 per cent of the infected were asymptomatic. Cases due to local transmission also registered a new high on Wednesday as 432 people contracted the virus through primary or secondary contact. While the source of infection remains unknown in 37 patients, new cases crossed the 600 mark for the second consecutive day as 623 cases were reported on the day . Thiruvananthapuram remains a major concern with 157 new cases, of which 137 resulted from local contact. Wayanad has been put on high alert as the district shares borders with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The BSF camp in Thrissur and the ITBP camp in Alappuzha are the two other concern 432 of Wednesday’s 623 fresh cases were due to local spread 37cases with sources of infection unknown The state’s death toll goes up to 35 The Greenfield Stadium and the adjacent international convention centre at Karyavattom will be converted into a 750-bed first line treatment centre in a first-of-its-kind move areas. Further restrictions will be imposed in Kannur w i t h c a s e s i n c re a s i n g among services personnel there. While the coastal belt in the capital — comprising Manikyavilakam, Poonthura and Puthenpalli — remains critical, the virus spread further in Aluva municipality and Chellanam and Keezhmad panchayats in Ernakulam. ● More on P4 HC BANS PROTESTS TILL JULY 31 Some of the jobless returnee migrants in Malgo village in Jharkhand | MUKESH RANJAN man Kotwar (25), returned from Bhiwandi in Maharashtra recently and is jobless. He had worked at a cotton mill and earned at least `18,000 per month. “I have been telling my friends and relatives to arrange some work for me so that I can find a reason to live in my home state,” says Arman. With his savings fast drying up, soon he would have to weigh the option of migrating again. CONTINUED ON: P8 Kochi: The High Court on Wednesday banned all types of demonstrations, processions and agitations till July 31. The court also directed the state government and the state police chief to take preventive measures to ensure such gatherings do not take place and political parties do not violate the guidelines issued by the National Disaster Management Authority as part of measures to contain Covid-19 and the court’s order in this regard. The order came on the day when new Covid-19 cases in the state crossed the 600-mark for the second consecutive day.
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