In his petition, Shaji claims that the pamphlet is CPI(M) plant and was handed over to the police by a local CPI(M) leader.
  • Thursday, December 13, 2018 - 18:24

KM Shaji, the Muslim League MLA whose election was set aside by the Kerala High Court over communally coloured remarks during his 2016 campaign, has once again moved the High Court, this time filing a petition citing new evidence in his favour.

Shaji’s MLA status was invalidated by the High Court on November 9, 2018, following a petition by journalist and CPI(M) candidate MV Nikesh Kumar. The main evidence cited by the High Court for invalidating Shaji’s MLA status was a ‘pamphlet’, allegedly distributed by him during his 2016 election. The pamphlet contained communally coloured statements seeking to draw Muslim votes.

Shaji's election had been invalidated after Valapattanam Sub-Inspector Sreejith Koderi said that the pamphlet was seized in a police raid on May 12, 2016, at local UDF leader NB Manorama’s house.

However, in new evidence submitted to the Kerala High Court, Shaji states that the pamphlet was not seized in the police raid and the seizure Mahazar (a list of things seized) after the raid does not contain the pamphlet. This, Shaji says, is contrary to the police statements submitted to the High Court earlier.

Shaji has told the court that a person, identified as Abdul Nasar KT, son of Abdul Rahman KT, residing in Ferry house Valapattanam, handed over the pamphlet to the Valapattanam police. As proof, he has submitted the seizure mahazar, from May 13, 2016 to the High Court.  The document, Shaji alleges. clearly mentions that place of seizure of the pamphlet was the Valapattanam police station, which means that Nasar had gone to the station to submit the pamphlet.

The election of KM Shaji - the IUML MLA who won from the Azhikode constituency in Kerala, was invalidated by the Kerala High Court on November 9 this year. The verdict was delivered following a petition by Nikesh Kumar, a CPI (M) candidate who had contested and lost from Azhikode during the 2016 elections. The court also asked the MLA to compensate Nikesh Kumar with Rs 50,000 and asked the Speaker of the Assembly and State Election Commission to take necessary action following the verdict.

Nikesh Kumar’s demand to be declared the winner in the Azhikode constituency was, however,  rejected by the court which directed that re-elections be held. Nikesh had alleged that Shaji had distributed pamphlets asking Muslim voters not to vote for non-Muslim candidates.

On the other hand, a case was registered against Shaji for threatening and abusing the Valapattanam SI Sreejith Koderi, on December 8, 2018. 

PUBG is a mobile multiplayer game that has been a rage among players this year. It even has a dedicated e-tournament for gamers.
  • Thursday, December 13, 2018 - 09:05

A Tamil Nadu college is on the warpath against PUBG - a fresh 'addiction' that has gripped young mobile users this season. On Monday, the Chief of Warden of VIT's (Vellore Institute of Technology) men's hostel fired a stern e-mail to all boys, warning them to quit late night online games, especially PUBG.

"It has come to our notice that few students are playing online games like 'PUBG' which is NOT PERMITTED. Despite our repeated instructions by playing online games inside the rooms which disturbs fellow roommates and spoiling entire atmosphere of the hostel. It is strictly warned that playing online games and betting for such games are totally prohibited in VIT. Hence, the defaulters will be dealt seriously under VIT CODE OF CONDUCT. Students are asked to concentrate on physical games or sports and give more importance to their career growth," the circular read.

Confirming the news, Deputy Director of hostels in VIT said that the varsity did not want its students sitting in their rooms all day and night playing PUBG. 

"We received complaints that PUBG addiction among certain boys in the hostel has been causing disturbance and ruining the hostel atmosphere. We don't want our students to sit in their rooms all day and night on their phones. We want to encourage outdoor activities. Addiction to such games also results in poor academic performance by students," he said.

However, contrary to the circular's warning that 'strict action would be taken' against defaulters, the hostel authorities said that students found playing would only be advised and let off.

"We are just trying to advise the students. We won't take any strict action against them. We have a code of conduct for students and strict action will only be taken if they violate this," he said.

PUBG or Player Unknowns Battle Ground is as an online multiplayer game for consoles last year. It belongs to battle royale genre and shot into immense popularity soon after it hit the market. In March 2018, the mobile version of the game was launched on Android and iOS devices and has been dominating the charts for the majority of the year. The phone version known as PUBG mobile basically has 100 players dropping in on a map where they find weapons to fight. They then use this eliminate other players till they are the last one standing. The game reportedly even has a dedicated e-sports tournament that draws professional gamers to the platform.

The game gained notoriety after several cases of PUBG addiction were reported in Bengaluru NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences). Reports also state that several schools in the city have advising kids of the ill-effects of playing the game for hours at a stretch. 

(With inputs from Priyanka Thirumurthy)

Director Shrikumar Menon said that the film has already made Rs 100-crore from pre-release business through advance bookings and sale of rights.
  • Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 18:10

Mohanlal's Odiyan is among the most anticipated Malayalam films of the year. Made on a huge budget and with a stellar cast, there's a lot riding on the film's success. It is expected to release in 3500 screens in 31 countries. And now, the film's director VA Shrikumar Menon has said that Odiyan has made history by becoming the first ever Malayalam film to make Rs 100 crores from pre-release business.

Tweeting on Monday, Shrikumar said that the movie had entered the Rs 100-crore-club 3 days before its release via advance bookings (including fan shows) and sale of satellite and remake rights. This is the third film from the South and 11th film in the history of Indian cinema to reach a 100-crore pre-release mark, he added. Here's a look at how Odiyan managed to make this business ahead of its release.

Satellite and remake rights 

According to Antony Perumbavoor's Max Lab Cinemas, which is distributing the film, Odiyan has made Rs 21 crore from selling satellite rights to Asianet (Rs 14 cr) and Amritha TV (Rs 7 cr). Sale of Tamil, Telugu and Hindi remake rights along with their satellite rights came up to Rs 19.2 crore.

Rights to Gulf Council Co-operation (GCC) and other countries to screen the films were reportedly sold at Rs 4.7 crore. Further sale of audio and other rights went for Rs 1.8 crore and the Rest of India (ROI) rights of the film was Rs 2 crore.

Pre-sales and advance bookings in Kerala and UAE make  Rs 11.5 cr

The film made Rs 11.5 crores from fan show pre-sales and advance booking sales from Rest of India (ROI) and Rest of World (ROW) and from Kerala and the Gulf Countries. The advance payments made by cinema theatres in Kerala came to a total of Rs 17 crores, according to the distributor's estimates.

"There are 430 screens in Kerala itself that will be screening Odiyan. Each multiplex will be playing 2 early morning fan shows and 2 shows each even for the regular times. Some malls such as the Mall of Travancore in Thiruvananthapuram are playing about 36 shows of Odiyan in a single day. And almost all these screens in Kerala have been booked out for one whole week," Lijinesh, a film exhibitor who is part of multiplex group Aries Visyama Max told TNM.

Branding rights sale come to Rs 15 cr

Finally, the movie even made a whopping Rs 15 crore from selling their branding rights. Odiyan's branding partners are Confident group, Myg, Hedge and others, Airtem SIM, Kingfisher and other sponsors. With this, the grand total of pre-release business done was pegged at Rs 101.2 crores.

Certain film screen owners are, however, wary of the film's startling commercial success before it even hits the screens, calling it a publicity stunt by the distributors. "There is no way that they can make Rs 100 crore from just pre-release business. A lot of big films are given such publicity to arose people's curiosity," owner of Liberty Cinemas, Basheer, told TNM.

However, others disagree with this. "In the Indian market, there are a few films which hit the Rs 100 crore pre-release business mark. All of Rohit Shetty's films in Bollywood, Murugadoss and Shankar's films and even Rajinikanth's hit the 100 cr- pre-release business mark. Therefore Odiyan making Rs 100 crore is not surprising as the film has made a big splash," film reviewer Maneesh Narayanan told TNM.

Odiyan will mark the directorial debut of ad filmmaker VA Shrikumar Menon in the Malayalam film industry. It has Prakash Raj playing a pivotal role and interestingly, he is sharing screen space with Mohanlal, after nearly two decades. The last time they worked together was in the Mani Ratnam directorial Iruvar.

Manju Warrier plays the female lead in this film and the rest of the cast includes Innocent, Siddique, Manoj Joshi, Nandhu, Narain, Kailash, Sreejaya Nair, Sana Althaf and Appani Sarath. The film is scripted by National Award winner K Hari Krishnan.

M Jayachandran has composed the soundtrack of the film while Sam CS is in charge of the background music. Shaji Kumar is the cinematographer for this venture and John Kutty is the editor.The film has been produced by Antony Perumbavoor under his banner Aashirvad Cinemas.

A creation of Bengaluru-based Invento Robotics, Mitri can process details and performance records of employees.
  • Monday, December 10, 2018 - 18:17

Remember Nila, the super smart and resourceful humanoid assistant played by Amy Jackson in 2.0? Last week, Bengaluru's Invento Robotics presented to the world somebody who has striking similarities to Nila. She is Mitri and her creators claim that she is India's first female robot receptionist.

At one glance, Mitri does not possess any obvious human-like exterior. Her dome-shaped, antenna-fitted head, fully plastic body frame and blue LED eyes give her an R2D2-esque look if anything. Yet, five minutes into interacting with her, one cannot help but grasp her subtle mannerisms - something that makes her so endearingly human-like.

Mitri is constantly blinking her eyes and turning her head to check the people around her. And it's not just the blinking; once you register your details with her - a process where she will ask you questions and will register your name, age, workplace and other details - she will recognise you. And once she recognises you, her eyes widen.

“She will even raise her hand to give you a handshake," says her creator Balaji Viswanathan.

Mitri, a robot with social skills 

Two years ago, Balaji returned from his job in the US and set up a tech exhibition in Bengaluru, along with his spouse Mahalakshmi.

“We had an array of items on display at the tech exhibition. But our biggest hit was a humanoid. Everybody was drawn to it," says Mahalakshmi, the Chief of Operations at Invento. This led them to explore the idea of a robotics firm.

Gathering a team of technical experts, Balaji and Mahalakshmi set up their robotics firm in Bengaluru, the IT hub of India. With their team, which consisted of several women working and heading the marketing, tech support and testing verticals, they brought to life Mitri.

Being a robot with social skills is no easy task. Yet, Mitri does exactly this as she was conceived with a very specific purpose of being a 'people's robot'.

"We designed her to be a front desk and HR robot and hence she does a lot of tasks, which people will connect with,” Balaji says.

By adding social skills to the humanoid, Invento's goal was to use Artificial Intelligence to revolutionise front desk operations.

“Most times, data collection and processing is a cumbersome activity for the front desk. By giving this work to the AI and monitoring it, you are increasing the speed and efficiency at which data is collected and processed," he says.

Revolutionising front desk ops with Mitri

Mitri can collect and process personal details and performance records of employees. She can process this data at lightning speed, unlike her human counterparts, according to Balaji.

"She can process their performance, recognise them when they appear in front of her and give them personal inputs on how they can improve. She can move around and interact with employees at their workstations and can even sense when people are having bad days or are depressed. If she does sense this with employee mannerisms, Mitri will interact with them carefully to cheer them up," he elucidates.

She can also be coded to speak multiple languages. "Right now, she speaks only English. But we can code other languages based on the requirements of our clients," he adds.

Tech revolutions in traditional workspaces will take time to get accepted. Yet, Mitri's soaring popularity demonstrates that companies are willing to take the risk and invest in bots and humanoids who could transform workspace as they knew it.

Despite being a new arrival in the tech space, Mitri boasts of some high profile clients.

The Chennai International Airport recently invested in her and she now moves around the screening and check-in kiosks to ensure that passengers have a smooth boarding experience. Smartworks, a workspace experience firm and concierge service, has also invested in the humanoid to enhance their HR and front desk verticals. 

Mitri is surely going places. But she isn't alone. Along with her is Mitra - a male robot assistant created by Invento. And together, they are all set to supplement workspaces with AI.

Sanal Kumar Death
Sanal from Neyyatinkkara was pushed to death by the area DySP, B Harikumar. The Kerala government has not given them any compensation.
  • Saturday, December 08, 2018 - 08:30

Saturday marks 33 days since the passing away of Sanal Kumar, the 32-year-old from Neyyatinkkara who was pushed to death by the area DySP, B Harikumar, following a verbal spat. On Monday, Sanal's wife Viji and her two children will start an indefinite strike as the government has failed to provide any monetary compensation to the aggrieved family.

"We haven't received any of the promised money from the government until now. Not even the basic Rs 10,000 that they are supposed to give us," Viji tells TNM.

Sanal Kumar's death in November had become headlines in Kerala as the main accused in the incident was the Deputy Superintendent of Neyyatinkara. Following Sanal's death, DySP - B Harikumar - was absconding for a week along with his close aid Binu, who allegedly helped him escape after the incident. Protests in delayed action by the police lead to the case being transferred to the Crime Branch, with Inspector General of Police Sreejith S taking over investigations.

On November 13, a week after he went absconding, Harikumar was found dead in his house in Kallambalam near Varkala, with further probe confirming that he had killed himself. Following the DySP's death, the police nabbed Binu and Ramesh, and a driver named Satish, in whose lodge the duo stayed after they escaped on the night of November 5.

Sanal was the sole breadwinner of the family and his death has left them broken, says Viji. "We were promised monetary compensation, but we have got it. Right now we have no money and we have a mounting loan of Rs 25 lakhs to pay. We are fully dependent on our relatives now, to the extent where I have to ask them money to buy even a book or a pencil for my children," the 26-year old mother of two adds.

Following Sanal's death on November 5, several political leaders from the local MLA to Ministers KK Shailaja and Kadakkampally Surendran and chief of Congress (S) Kadanapally Ramachandran had visited the family. All of them had promised financial compensation, Viji says.

"All of them had promised to provide us financial compensation but nothing has come so far. I have passed my 12th grade and was promised a suitable government job. I am yet to hear about that as well ," she says.

Sanal's family and the action council formed by local residents to seek justice for him have been constantly meeting authorities to request for compensation. But to no avail.

"On November 28, my family, children and the local leaders waited in front of the secretariat for a whole day before we could meet the CM. He had accepted our petition and said that he would help in whatever way possible. Prior to this, my family had visited the CM right after Sanal's death to request for help. But no support has been extended so far," she says.

On Friday, Sanal's family and the action committee had met and decided to begin an indefinite hunger strike to get the government's attention. Sanal's wife, children and mother along with Viji's father and members of the action council will sit in front of the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram from 9 am to 5 pm everyday to get justice.

"This is my last resort. I am pleading to the government to help me," Viji says.

Kannur minor gang rape case
Reports state that Nikhil C Thaliyil, a DYFI unit secretary in Kannur, had attended the march held two days ago against those involved in the gang rape case.
  • Friday, December 07, 2018 - 14:47

On Tuesday, a group of DYFI members marched in the Parassinikadavu area of Kannur district demanding that the police immediately arrest those involved in the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl at a lodge in the area. But things took an absurd turn when the media figured out that a local DYFI leader, who had marched for justice was in fact arrested later in the same case.

The march was conducted by the DYFI - the youth wing of the CPI(M) - supporters at Parassinikkadavu on December 4, before any arrests were made in the case. Sporting a red jersey and beard, Nikhil Mohanan (Nikhil Thaliyil), secretary of a DYFI unit from Thaliyil in Kannur was seen marching with the small crowd in a report published by Asianet.

However on Thursday, the Kannur police made four more arrests in the case, which included Nikhil. “The protest march was held two days ago when the news just broke and no arrests were made. Nikhil was arrested on Thursday after the police found his involvement in the gang-rape case,” a local media source from Kannur told TNM.

On November 19, a 16-year-old who had befriended a man on Facebook was taken to a lodge in Parassinikadavu and gang-raped. The men and his friends who had recorded the act later showed the video to her brother, and tried to extort money. The incident came to light after a case was registered by the Taliparamba station, on the basis of a complaint filed by the suvivor's brother and mother. This subsequently sparked much outrage.

The survivor was befriended on Facebook by a man named Mridul - one of the main accused in the case - who created a fake ID under the name ‘Anjana’ to speak with the girl. He later convinced the girl to meet him at a lodge in Parassinikkadavu, where the incident took place.

Following the police probe, it was later found that the girl’s father, too, had sexually abused her for a period of two years prior to this.

Speaking to TNM, DYFI district secretary in Kannur, Sanoj VK said, “Nikhil used to be a unit secretary; but not anymore. We had some issues with him, including his drinking problem. Due to this, he wasn’t given any important positions in the party. He usually participates in such protests and other events. Regarding the protest march held on Wednesday, I am not sure if he has participated in it but media reports have said so. However, the march did happen near his area.”

16 cases in 5 stations

Sixteen cases have been registered and 12 accused have been arrested so far by the Kannur police. On Friday, the police arrested the DYFI leader Nikhil Mohanan and three others hailing from Matool.

Sandeep, Shamsuddin, Shabbir, Ayub and Pavithran, the receptionist of the lodge where the gang rape took place, Achit Valsaraj, Nikhil Thaliyil and Mridul M are some of the accused who were arrested on Thursday.

Police have registered cases in Valapattanam, Taliparamba, Pazhayangadi, Edakkad and Kudiyanmala so far.

Child sexual abuse
16 cases have been registered across 5 police stations in Kerala in what appears to be a case of grooming and re-victimisation.
  • Thursday, December 06, 2018 - 18:11

Perhaps nobody could have guessed just how convoluted an already deeply horrifying case, of a 16-year-old Kannur girl being lured by a group of adult men through social media and subsequently gang raped at a lodge in Parassinikkadavu on November 19, would turn out to be.

Preliminary inquiries have found that a 16-year-old child in question had been gang raped by a group of men on November 19. It has also been revealed that the girl in question had been continually sexually assaulted since 2015, when she was in class 8, by her father.

16 criminal cases have been registered in 5 different police stations across Kerala in this case.

Five men, including the receptionist of the lodge, have been arrested by Taliparamba police in relation to the November 19 gang rape case. They are Sandeep Matool, Shamsuddin, Shabbir, Ayub and the receptionist of the lodge where the gang rape took place, Pavithran. They were charged under sections 366(a) (procuration of a minor girl), 354(b) (use of criminal force to disrobe a woman), 376(2)f, 376(2)(i) and 376(d) (gang rape of a woman) of the IPC, in addition to section 8 read with 7, and section 6 read with 5(g) of the The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which deal with sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault of minors. They will be produced before the Taliparambu District Magistrate by Thursday evening. 

Meanwhile, three men, Achit Valsaraj, Nikhil Thaliyil and Mridul M, have been arrested by Valapattanam police, and charged with 354(b) (use of criminal force to disrobe a woman), 376(2)(f), 376(2)(i), 376(2)(m) of the IPC, and sections 10, 9(n), 6 and 5(n) of the POCSO Act, which deal with aggravated sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault of minors. Nikhil Thaliyil arrested by Valapattanam police is a DYFI leader from Anthoor.

A separate case has been registered on Thursday morning by the Valapattanam police station against the father of the child.

Given the nature of how the child was lured through social media, and her continual sexual abuse at the hands of her father spanning about three years, this appears to be a prime example of sexual grooming and re-victimisation. 

November 19 gang rape

Police officials told TNM that the 16-year-old minor girl had befriended one of the men, Sandeep, on social media, and he asked her to meet him at a lodge in Parassinikkadavu on November 19, where she was gang raped by numerous men. Visuals of the gang rape were recorded by the men, who then proceeded to call the survivor’s brother, telling him that they had a compromising video of his sister, and to come and meet them in Palakkad.

When the survivor’s brother met the men in Palakkad, he was taken to a lodge, where he was shown the video of his sister being gang raped, and then asked to pay up a large sum of money. In a rage, he got into a physical altercation with the men. He returned home and informed his mother about what had taken place, and the pair questioned the 16-year-old girl about this incident. 

Hidden history

Upon speaking to the child about the November 19 gang rape, it was discovered by her mother and brother that she had been continually sexually abused by her father for a period of over two years, ever since she was in class 8. Her mother and brother then approached the Kannur Women’s police station, who subsequently referred the case to the police stations concerned.

At this stage of the investigation, it appears that neither her mother nor her brother were aware that this was taking place. Prima facie, it also appears that the girl’s father does not know any of the men involved in the November 19 gang rape. 

Grooming and re-victimisation

‘Grooming’, in the context of child sexual abuse, is a variety of actions or behaviours undertaken by the abuser that are designed to create an environment in which the abuser can gain access to, or enable the abuse of, a child. It’s a process that can take place over a few days, or an extended period of time.

Vidya Reddy, who runs Tulir, an organisation working on the prevention and healing of child sexual abuse in India, tells TNM in relation to this case, “Among other things, grooming can be a process of creating a context of complicity, where the child appears to 'go along' with the attacker, in order to meet them and engage in possibly sexual behaviours. It’s also when you get people, be it the child, or even their family members, to trust you, in order to lure them into a false sense of security, to enable child sexual abuse.” 

Given that the child was befriended by one of the men on social media, and lured to meet him at the lodge for whatever reason, this is a classic example of sexual grooming. It also appears to be an instance of re-victimisation.

‘Revictimisation’ is defined as the physical or sexual abuse of victims of child sex abuse, which takes place after the first incident of child sexual abuse. Studies undertaken in India and around the world state conclusively that child sexual abuse puts victims at an increased risk of revictimisation in adolescence and adulthood. 

Vidya also confirms that if someone has been abused earlier, they do have a greater vulnerability to being abused again. She explains that this is because the effects of sexual abuse, which takes place at the hands of someone known to or trusted by the victim, fall into four quadrants: betrayal, helplessness, stigmatisation and traumagenic sexualisation (which can manifest in being completely averse to all forms of sexual contact, or becoming overly sexualised due to the imbibed connection made between love and sex). Due to a combination of the experience of these four effects in varying proportions by child sexual abuse survivors, they are at higher risk of being revictimised in the future. 

Vandana, a child psychologist working in Bengaluru, reiterates to TNM, “It has been scientifically proven that child sexual abuse increases the likelihood of future sexual abuse. This is especially so if no proper psychological rehabilitation, for the initial trauma and the effects of that trauma, has taken place. Psychological rehabilitation is imperative in such cases."

Meanwhile, Taliparamba and other police stations continue to investigate the involvement of various men in the November 19 gang rape of this 16-year-old girl from Kannur, and of her friend who was also allegedly abused by one of the men. It remains concerning that cases have been filed in 5 different police stations, because, as Vidya points out, the high number of those accused in this case, and consequent number of separate lawyers appearing for each of the accused in the different cases registered, increases the mental pressure and stress of the often-brutal cross-examinations the survivor may have to go through.

Kithab, which tells the story of a young girl who wishes to call out the azaan like her father, landed in trouble after Muslim groups decided that it hurt their religious sentiments.
  • Sunday, December 02, 2018 - 10:20

In what can only be called unfortunate, the Memunda Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode has withdrawn its prize-winning play, ‘Kithab’, performed by its students, after Muslim groups protested against it. Although the play was well received by those at the Revenue District School Arts Festival in Kozhikode, where it was performed last week, it did not go down too well with groups such as the SDPI, Sunni Yuvajana Sangham (SYS) and the Muslim Students Federation (MSF), who protested against the play, stating that it hurt Muslim sentiments.

A week later, the school issued a press statement withdrawing the play as it did not "wish to hold cultural performances that hurt public sentiments." ‘Kithab’, which spoke about women’s emancipation, told the story of a young girl who wished to call out the vaang or the azaan (the Islamic call to worship), just like her father, a muezzin (a person appointed at a mosque to lead and recite the call to prayer).

Explaining the issue in a press release, the school headmaster stated, “The play, Kithaab, performed by the students of the Memunda Higher Secondary school at the Kozhikode revenue district school arts festival, secured first prize, A grade and the best actor award. It was after the play was selected for the competition at Thiruvananthapuram that certain issues were raised against it and came into focus.”

The statement also clarified that the school did not intend to wound the sentiments of any particular section of the society.

“The school authorities and those involved in the play immediately engaged in a serious discussion right away, following allegations that this play was attempting to portray a certain community in bad light. We understand that the play’s presentation has hurt the religious sentiments of a certain section of society. However, we have come to the conclusion that this was not our intention." the statement read.

It further added, “This school has not attempted to stage cultural activities by hurting or inflicting wounds on the sentiments of the public. We would not be interested in bringing the atmosphere of this public school, which upholds democratic and secular values, under the shadow of any doubt and suspicion Due to this reason, we have decided not to perform this play - Kithaab - in the future, as it has hurt the sentiments of a community.”  

The school's press release also made it clear that the school authorities are aware of the involvement of certain parties with vested interests who were trying to mar its good reputation and wished to brush these attempts aside with contempt.

Lastly, the school also appealed the support of all sections of society in carrying out future activities, by upholding its democratic and secular values without any blemish to its good reputation and without having to dilute its stance on any issue.

Soon after the announcement, the Sunni Yuvajana Sangham, which had also raised objections against the play earlier, welcomed the school's decision and revoked all protests.

State Secretary of SYS Musthafa Mundupar told the Times of India that they believed that the school has realised its mistake and hence their decision to revoke agitations against it.

For over three decades now, the Memunda Higher Secondary School has come up with unique themes for its school festivals and has received much praise for this.

Speaking to TNM, a teacher from the school said that although the play was about women's progress, they did not wish to hurt religious sentiments and hence were ready to make necessary changes.

What is Kithab, the play

An adaptation of writer R Unni's story ‘Vaang’, Kithab is a humorous portrayal of a Muslim household, where the girl who wishes to call out the azaan sings and dances with her friends and mischievously steals the fish fry her mom cooks for the men in the house. She says that it is not wrong to steal the fish because padachon (god) would understand that it’s because girls are not given the food they desire that they steal it. Her father then chastises her, telling her that women should get only half of everything that men have. To this, the girl mischievously asks shouldn’t women then wear only half of what men do.

It is in between such questions that she expresses her desire to call out the azaan. Her father answers all her questions by referring to a big book (Kithab) and locks her so she would not perform in a play (play within the play) again. He tells her she wouldn’t reach heaven if she does these things.

“If I’d lose entry to heaven because I sing and dance, then I don’t want that heaven,” she says. The father is ready to kill the girl when she disobeys him and performs at the school play. But then, the mother reminds him that he is not just the muezzin but also the father of the girl. He then lets her call out the azaan. Kithab ends with the girl calling out the azaan and the rest praying.

(With inputs from Cris)

Rakhi Krishnan, a first year BA student from Kollam’s Fatima Mata college took her life on Wednesday.
  • Thursday, November 29, 2018 - 18:04

A first year BA English student from Kollam’s Fatima Mata college, took her own life after she was caught copying in an examination. According to the police, Rakhi Krishnan (19), who had been writing her semester exam paper on Wednesday was caught copying and was taken to the faculty room.

“She was taken out of the hall by the invigilation squad and asked to sit outside. She later left the room saying that she wanted to use the toilet,” SI of Kollam town police station had told TNM. Rakhi went to the railway tracks, where she killed herself.

Following her death, several students protested by the gate of Fatima Mata alleging that harassment by faculty members after she was caught played a part in Rakhi’s death. The State Youth Commission too has taken a suo motu case against the college after the incident with the chairperson of the commission asking the Kollam police chief to investigate the issue and submit a report within a week.

The police have filed a case and are investigating any foul play involved in Rakhi’s death.

“The police have filed a FIR in the incident under section 174 of the CrPC and an RDO had immediately come to make an inquest,” the SI added.

Section 174 of the CrPC states that whenever an officer in charge of a police station receives information about a suicide, accident or death which raises reasonable involvement of another person in the death, shall inform the nearest executive magistrate to hold inquests.

“We are yet to hold a detailed questioning of the students and the professors of the college to understand what exactly happened,” the SI said.

Rakhi is the daughter of Radhakrishnan from Mayyanad Kollam. Her body has currently been kept at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital where an autopsy will be conducted on Friday. 


Sandeep's bike along with his watch and towel were found on top of a bridge above the Tunga river in Koppa, indicating that he may have stopped for a dip in the river.
  • Wednesday, November 28, 2018 - 18:05

A 34-year-old marketing manager from Kerala has gone missing in Chikkamagaluru whilst on a solo bike trip to Karnataka. Sandeep S from Kozhikode left his house at dawn on Saturday and was last contacted on Sunday afternoon. The police traced his last call to the Koppa mobile tower in Chikkamagaluru and later found his bike parked on the Tunga bridge in the town.

"Sandeep's bike - a UM Renegade - was found neatly parked on top of the Tunga bridge above the river in Nagalapura, Koppa. There were no signs of struggle or theft. We found his bag with ID and documents inside them," the police said.

A watch and towel suspected to be Sandeep's have also been discovered near the river bank by the police, indicating that he may have taken a dip in the Tungabadhra river during his pitstop.

Speaking to TNM, Sandeep's colleague at Ibird advertising in Kozhikode, who did not wish to be named, said that he had promised his family that he would reach home by Sunday night, so that he could make it to work on Monday.

"On Saturday dawn, he left from his house in Palazhi on his bike. By around 9:45 am, he had hit the Mysore Road. He had even posted a picture of the road he was passing on Facebook," his colleague told TNM.

After completing his 8-hour journey on Saturday, Sandeep stopped at Mullayangiri in Chikkamagaluru to spend the night.

"He left from Mullayangiri via the Sringeri and Shivamogga route the next morning. The last call he made on Sunday was to his wife at 12 or 1 in the afternoon," Sandeep's colleague added.

The Chikkamaguluru police, who were in touch with the Nalallam police station in Kerala where a missing case was filed, confirmed that the bike belonged to Sandeep when they recovered his id proof in the bag. Since the bike was parked on top of the bridge, the police deployed a few divers who searched for Sandeep in the river. However, there were no traces of him.

The 34-year-old is married with wife and 4-year-old son. The Nalallam police have arrived at Koppa to continue the search operations. "We suspect two things. Either Sandeep had gone to take a dip in the river and got washed away. Or he would have entered the forest near the river where he is either lost or encountered something dangerous," the police said.