KOLLAM l Thursday l December 02, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION Heavy rainfall TO CONTINUE in southern states till Feb WARMER WINTER LIKELY IN nORTH iNDIA The India Meteorological Department has forecast above-normal rainfall between December and February in most southern states The weather department said coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, south interior Karnataka, inner Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Kerala will continue to get abundant showers. In its winter forecast released on Wednesday, the IMD predicted normal or above normal (warmer) minimum temperature over north Indian states during the 3-month period ■ 169% La nina conditions may play out: IMD ■ However, below normal minimum temperature is most likely over some parts of north-interior peninsula that comprises north Karnataka, parts of Telangana and Marathwada, the IMD said La Nina conditions are likely to strengthen and peak to moderate conditions during the upcoming winter season, it added Excess rainfall in andhra, Tamil nadu, Kerala & interior k’taka in november 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 Periya case: Police’s prosecution witnesses turn murder accused in CBI probe G e o r g e P o i k ay i l @ Kasaragod The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested five more men, all linked to the CPM, in connection with the murder of Youth Congress workers Kripesh, 19, and Sarath Lal P K, 24, on February 17, 2019. The arrests ripped apart the investigation by the police as they had named three of the five accused as ‘prosecution witnesses’ in their chargesheet. The CBI identified the arrested persons as CPM Echiladukkam branch secretary Rajesh, 38, popularly known as Raju; Reji Varghese, 44, of Echiladukkam; Surendran, 47, alias Vishnu Sura, who is a friend of first accused A Peethambaran; Sastha Madhu, 40, paternal uncle of fifth accused Gijin; and Hariprasad M, 31, also from Echiladukkam and who recently got a job in CPM-run cooperative bank at Periya Bazaar. They will be produced in the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Ernakulam on Thursday, said CBI deputy superintendent of police (DySP) T P Ananthakrishnan. The officer said they were di- Slain Kripesh and Sarath Lal rectly involved in the double murder and conspiracy “They . arranged the weapons and vehicles and kept trailing the victims and communicated their whereabouts to other assailants,” he said. The Crime Branch had named CPM branch secretary Rajesh, Hariprasad and Reji Varghese as ‘prosecution witness’ in its chargesheet submitted in May 2019. Back then, Kripesh and Sarath Lal’s families said they were baffled by the list of prosecution witnesses because 40% of the 229 persons named as prosecution witnesses were affiliated to the CPM or linked to the crime. “They had no evidentiary value to help prosecute the accused. We stand vindicated today,” said M K Baburaj, a lawyer and friend of Sarath Lal’s father Sathyanarayanan. Sources privy to the CBI investigation said the premier agency was likely to arrest five more persons before submitting its chargesheet. The CBI took over the investigation on December 14 last year. The Crime Branch had earlier arrested 14 CPM supporters and members, including CPM leader and Kanhangad block panchayat president K Manikandan, in connection w i t h t h e c a s e. I t a l s o concluded the CPM workers, led by the first accused Peethambaran, killed the two YC workers because of person● More on P4 al enmity . turn of events Feb 17, 2019: Sarath Lal P K and Kripesh hacked to death Sept 30: HC quashes charge-sheet, transfers case to CBI Sept 12: State govt moves SC against division bench order Feb 19: A Peethambaran, the main accused, arrested Oct 26: State govt moves the division bench of HC against CBI probe Dec 1: SC dismisses state government’s petition Feb 21: Investigation handed over to Crime Branch Oct 29: HC refuses to stay Single Bench order, but govt refuses to hand over case diary to CBI Dec 14: CBI begins investigation May 20: CB submits chargesheet, names 14 accused, all linked to CPM Aug 25, 2020: Division Bench upholds single bench order transferring probe to CBI Aug 5, 2021: HC directs CBI to submit chargesheet in four months Dec 1, 2021: CBI arrests five persons Suspended since March ’20 to deal with second Covid wave; special flights, however, operating since July last year International flights back UPA is over, says Mamata after on hold to handle Omicron meeting Pawar K u m a r V i k r a m @ New Delhi Arriving passengers leave a terminal at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on Wednesday | AFP The decision to hold back resumption of int’l flights came days after the Prime Minister asked officials to review plans to ease international travel restrictions by factoring in the Omicron outbreak in countries labelled at-risk. Jab-o-meter Take your shot Nov 30 72,49,189 doses Dec 01 71,55,049 doses Total: 1,24,86,09,652 2% random sampling Further revising its advisory, the Ministry of Civil Aviation on Wednesday said only 2% of passengers from non ‘at-risk’ countries will be subject to random sampling for Covid as against 5% earlier All such passengers will be permitted to leave the airport after giving the samples, the ministry explained in a set of Frequently Asked Questions NATIONWIDE nov 30 dec 01 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 6,990 8,954 10,116 10,204 190 267 2nd highest GST collections zoom to `1.31L cr in November E x p r e s s n e w s s e r v i c e @ New Delhi Signalling India’s gradual economic recovery, Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections grew 25% year-on-year to `1,31,526 crore in November, surpassing October’s `1.30 lakh crore mop-up. Tax collections from import of goods also contributed to the numbers, which were 43% higher, while revenues from domestic transactions, including import of services, were 20% higher compared to November 2020, government data showed. According to the government, rising demand and better compliance by taxpayers contributed to the growth in GST collection. Officials claimed the numbers will be even better in the coming months. November’s GST mop-up is the second largest on record. The highest was in April this year, at `1.40 lakh crore. Experts say GST collection will maintain healthy momentum for the rest of the fiscal. “We expect Central GST collections to rise to `5.8 lakh crore in FY22, exceeding the BE by `50,000 crore,” said Aditi Nayar, chief economist at ICRA. Another data set released on Wednesday, IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), bolstered the argument that economic recovery is gathering pace. The PMI survey showed manufacturing zoomed to a 10-month high in November on high domestic demand. STATEWIDE nov 30 DEC 01 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 4,723 5,370 19 5,405 4,538 96 Days after announcing resumption of international commercial flights from December 15, the Centre on Wednesday indefinitely put it off in the wake of concerns over the spread of the newly detected Omicron strain of Covid globally . “In view of the evolving global scenario with the emergence of new variants of concern, the situation is being watched closely in consultation with all stakeholders and an appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services shall be notified in due course,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said. The decision came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked officials to review plans to ease international travel restrictions by factoring in the Omicron outbreak in countries labeled at-risk. The at-risk na- tions are: Europe, UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel. International commercial flights have been suspended for as many as 21 months since March 2020. However, special passenger flights have been operating since July last year under air bubble arrangements with around 28 countries. Many state gover nments have already urged Modi not to resume flights from ‘at risk’ countries for now. Maharash- Six positive cases from at-risk countries Six Covid positive cases were reported on Wednesday after screening 3,476 passengers from 11 flights that arrived in India from ‘at-risk’ countries. Their samples have been sent for genomic sequencing, the health ministry said tra went much further and directed all international arrivals to take mandatory RT-PCR tests and 14 days of home quarantine, even if they are not from at-risk nations, prompting a rebuke from the Centre. It directed the Uddhav government to align itself with the guidelines already issued by the Union health ministry . Maharashtra had also made it mandatory for those from at risk countries to be placed in institutional quarantine of seven days, during which they had to take three RT-PCR tests (on the second, fourth and seventh days after arrival). A positive test during this period would land them in hospital. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan’s missive said the state’s order is in divergence with the Cnetre’s SoPs. “I would, therefore, urge you to align the orders issued by the state with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, Government of India,” he said. Brave teen catches harasser, hands him over to police Express News Service @Kozhikode A Plus One student caught hold of a man who tried to harass her while she was returning from the tuition class and handed him over to the police. The incident took place in Kozhikode city on Wednesday . Biju Kalathil, 30, a resident of Palayam, was arrested by Kasaba police. “Lakshmi Sajith and her friend were going to the bus stop from the tuition centre near Sreekanteshwaram temple. Biju touched Lakshmi inappropriately near Mananchira Square. He walked I could gather the courage to nab him because of my taekwondo training. I wish other girl students also learn martial arts for selfdefence — Lakshmi away before she could react,” said Prajeesh N, SHO, Kasaba police station. Lakshmi got enraged on seeing Biju misbehaving with another girl in the same manner. She ran and grabbed Biju by his shirt’s collar. When he tried to escape, Lakshmi, who is a taekwundo student, gave a kick on Biju’s back. Then, she grabbed his hands and neck together and shouted. By then, people gathered and a Pink police team that was on town patrolling reached the spot. The Pink police handed over Biju to Kasaba police station. “Biju was arrested after recording Lakshmi’s statement. He was charged under Pocso Act. He was produced before the court after a medical examination and remanded,” said Prajeesh. Lakshmi said: “I could gather the courage to nab him because of my taekwondo training. I have got red black belt now after four years of training. I wish other girl students also learn martial arts for selfdefence.” S u d h i r S u r ya w a n s h i @ Mumbai West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, who is aggressively pushing the idea of a non-Congress opposition front against the BJP said on Wednesday that , regional parties must come together as the Congress-led UPA is defunct. “There is no UPA now,” she told reporters after meeting NCP chief Sharad Pawar at residence in Mumbai on Wednesday. “UPA is over. Now, the regional parties who are opposed to the BJP must come together and put up a joint fight,” she added. Earlier in the day Mamata , held a meeting with activists and civil society members. Taking a swipe at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, she said one can’t do politics in India by staying in a foreign country. “If a person wants to stay in a foreign country most of the time, how will it work in politics? If you are not on the ground, the BJP will defeat you,” she said. While extending support to Mamata, Pawar asked NCP ministers to meet her to boost their fight against the BJP in Maharashtra. On who will lead the anti-BJP front, Pawar said it will be sorted out after the polls through consensus. Meanwhile, the Congress pooh-poohed Mamata’s political moves. “Thinking that anybody can defeat the BJP without the Congress is merely a dream,” said party General Secretary K C Venugopal. Maharashtra PCC chief Nana Patole said only the Congress can give a strong alternative to BJP . On Tuesday, Mamata had met Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut and Maharashtra environment minister Aaditya Thackeray. She could not meet Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray as he was hospitalised for a surgery . Fat Pay Cheque Puzzle From April to September, this year, state government has spent over I40,000 cr for disbursing salary and pension. Periodic revision of salary and pension has added to the stress on state’s finances. P2 NCP president Sharad Pawar with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after their meeting at his residence in Mumbai on Wednesday | PTI KEL-EML set for inauguration E X P R E SS R E A D Story of a PSU revival: Promised `77 crore, released `0 Sudha Bharadwaj granted default bail reOpening likely on December 10 State government took over KEL-Electrical Machines Ltd from BHEL on September 8 Chief minister had announced the D77-crore package for revival and modernisation of the unit It was initially slated to be reopened on November 1 According to principal secretary of the Department of Industries, the reopening of the unit has been tentatively fixed on December 10 G e o r g e P o i k ay i l @ Kasaragod Kasaragod is likely to see another sham inauguration of a government establishment on December 10. After cutting the ribbons for incomplete hospital buildings, now the state government has decided to inaugurate KEL-Electrical Machines Ltd — which it took over from Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) three months ago — without even servicing the machines that had been lying idle for more than 20 months or fixing the asbestos roof of the factory in Mogral Puthur panchayat. The slow progress of work is because the government had not yet released a single rupee from the `77-crore revival package announced by the chief minister on September 8. But these details will not deter the government from reopening the defunct factory which used to make alternators for electric trains and the defence sector. “The reopening of the unit has been tentatively fixed on December 10. The minister (for industries P Rajeeve) will be in Kasaragod that day said ,” A P M Mohammed Hanish, principal secretary of the Department of Industries. He said the machinery is being overhauled, repaired and serviced. However, the trade unions dismissed it as half-truths. The minister has called for a “final round” of meeting with the four major trade unions — STU, INTUC, CITU and BMS — to finalise the guidelines for the functioning of the unit on December 2, the principal secretary said. The government is also likely to press the unions to sign an MoU, which will include the guidelines and the new retirement age, and details on clearing the salary dues. The trade unions said the government has not shared the agenda of the meeting with them. “And we don’t know if it is the final round of talks,” said K P Mohammed Ashraf, leader of the Swatantra Trade Union affiliated with the IUML. The unions are sceptical about the reopening, which was initially slated for November 1. “If the government reopens the unit on December 10, it will be another eyewash,” said A Vasudevan, general secretary of a trade union affiliated to the Congress’ INTUC. “Since the government’s takeover of the unit, it has not released a single rupee from the revival package,” he said. ● More on P4 Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted default bail to activist Sudha Bharadwaj who has been under arrest in the Bhima Koregaon case since August 2018. However, it refused bail to eight other accused. Bharadwaj will now be produced before the Special Court, NIA, Mumbai on December 6 to define the terms and conditions for her bail. A default bail is granted when the probe agency fails to file chargesheet within 90 days of arrest. The eight other accused who sought bail were Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira.
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