Sreedevi_Jay

Protest
The student who belonged to SFI was manhandled twice by cops and he was admitted to a hospital.
  • Saturday, March 16, 2019 - 18:32

In an incident that shows abuse of power by the police, Pudukottai Superintendent of Police S Selvaraj was seen slapping and manhandling a college student who was protesting against the Pollachi sexual assault case on Friday. 

A video of SP Selvaraj slapping a 24-year old student from Thanjavur, G Aravinthaswamy, when the latter was protesting outside the Government Women’s college in Pudukottai, spread on social media on Friday.

In the video, the SP can be seen walking towards Aravinthasamy, who is wearing a red T-shirt and being held by other junior officers. He slaps the young man and then pushes him, following which he raises his hand at him in a threatening manner. All the while Aravinthaswamy is being held tightly by a man (probably a policeman in Mufti) so that he cannot move away.  

“It was 9:30 am and we were protesting with around 70 people. We were about to end the protests by 10:30 am. However, lots of students including girls began joining the protest, taking the number to 120 protestors. This is when the Inspector arrived and I spoke to him,” Aravinthaswamy, who is the State Joint Secretary of the Students Federation of India (SFI) told TNM.

When he tried to talk to the inspector, the latter spoke rudely to him, Aravinthaswamy alleges. This was followed by a verbal altercation between the Deputy Superintendent of police and the students. 

“The DSP was using abusive language before the girls. I asked him why he was cursing and he spoke rudely to me. This is when the SP entered. He grabbed me by my shirt and assaulted me. Following this, the officers attempted to drag me into the jeep and grabbed my private parts hard to hurt me,” Aravinth added. 

The students surrounded the police vehicle to get the officers to release Aravinthaswamy. Following this, he was admitted to the Pudukottai Government Medical College for treatment and was discharged on Saturday afternoon. 

“When they realised they could not take me into custody due to protest, they released me,” he added. 

The students organised a protest rally before the SP office on Saturday.

Speaking to TNM, Pudukottai SP S Selvaraj said, “They (protestors) met me today. The SFI students protested in the college yesterday and I intervened. Now the issue is settled. I have asked them to independently raise demands and not instigate students to protest with them.” 

Police with the AIADMK Government 

Aravinthaswamy adds that the police had attempted to silence the protestors because they were supporting the ruling AIADMK. 

“One of the accused in the Pollachi incident was from the AIADMK and therefore the party wants to bury the issue. The police is lending support to them for this ,” Aravinth told TNM. 

Protest
The five nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus convent in Kottayam reached the Kottayam SP’s office to submit a petition seeking a speedy submission of the chargesheet in the case.
  • Saturday, March 16, 2019 - 16:08
File Photo

Frustrated with delays and living under pressure, five nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus convent at Kuruvilangad in Kottayam on Saturday reached the Kottayam SP’s office to submit a petition seeking a speedy submission of the chargesheet in the Bishop Franco rape case. Bishop Franco Mulakkal has been accused of raping a 44-year-old nun multiple times between 2014 and 2016 and is currently out on bail.

In the petition, the nuns have asked for the reasons behind the delay in filing the chargesheet and stated that they, as well as the survivor nun, are under an immense amount of pressure.

"We, the crucial witnesses in the case have been living with utmost fear and anxiety. We understand that the investigation in the case had been completed days ago and the chargesheet is ready to be filed before the court. But it has been delayed due to some reasons. We don’t understand why the chargesheet is being delayed in the case, which is not so in similar cases, without any reasons. We even are tempted to doubt that it is due to the influence of the accused who is prominent and politically and financially powerful,” the petition says.

One of the nuns, Sister Anupama had stated last month that though Bishop Franco has been relieved of his administrative duties as head of Jalandhar diocese, he was interfering in the functioning of the diocese.

In the petition submitted to the SP on Saturday, the nuns add, “Hopefully, the pressure we are going through has come to the notice of you as well as that of the government. There was move a couple of months ago to transfer five of us to various parts of the country, which we even doubt as an attempt to finish us off. The complainant at the convent has been ostracised. You should be aware of Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, who died in a mysterious condition, and the pressure and the harassment sister Lissy Vadakkel, who is said to be the prime witness in the case, has been going through for the past many weeks. We are also concerned about her safety; she is aged and is a patient.”

With their names signed at the bottom of the letter, Sister Alphy, Sister Anupama, Sister Josephine, Sister Neena Rose and Sister Ancitta met SP Harisankar at his office at noon.

“Given the circumstances, we request you to submit the chargesheet as early as possible and to ensure safety for the witnesses, including us. We would also remind you that the delay in submitting the chargesheet, because of whatever reason, causes utmost grief and fear in us. We don't know how long we will be able to survive like this. We hope that you would be able to understand out helplessness and a favourable decision would come out," the petition concludes.

The nuns have been standing in support of the survivor since the allegations surfaced and have staged public protests in Kochi for days – backed by the Save Our Sisters forum – against rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

In January, they were asked to leave the convent in Kuruvilangad and return to the convents that they had been previously assigned. The nuns had refused to follow the order and it was later revoked.

Speaking to the media outside the SP’s office, the nuns stated that the SP has told them that the chargesheet will be filed in three-four days.

"We have submitted the petition on the delay of submitting the charge sheet. The SP told us that it will be filed in three-four days. We believe that the pressure is on us because of the political and financial influence of Bishop Franco. Even within the convent, the survivor nun has been facing various kinds of harassment – she hasn’t been provided with medicines or even food. This has caused a deterioration of her health. He had also said that providing safety for Sister Lissy Vadakkel will also be considered. We have also brought the condition of Sister Lissy to the SP's notice,” Sister Anupama told reporters.

Sr Anupama had told TNM on Friday that if there is an inordinate delay in the filing of the chargesheet, they will begin protests again.

“We strongly feel there is political pressure behind the delay in the chargesheet being filed for the case. Bishop Franco is a highly influential person. If need be, he can exercise pressure on government or any other political party. Every day we are wondering when the chargesheet will be filed so that the court can begin the trial,” Sr Anupama told TNM.

As for the church’s involvement, Sr. Anupama feels that the church authorities too are supporting and rooting for any kind of delay in the case.

“So many priests and church authorities have gone and visited Bishop Franco when he was in jail. If anybody dissents within the institution, these authorities are quick to silence them,” Sr Anupama added.

 

 

Education
Security of the school and the nutrition needs of students were some of the key concerns against delivery-based food apps.
  • Friday, March 15, 2019 - 19:06
Image for representation only

Unhappy with a rising number of delivery executives of food-based apps bringing lunch for students during school hours, a Chennai school has asked parents not to order lunch for their wards through apps like Swiggy and Uber Eats.

The letter, sent by the principal of the school, and mailed to all parents of students from Classes 2 to 12 read: "It has been brought to our notice that parents order through Swiggy and Uber Eats for food to be delivered in school for their children, for various reasons, during lunch breaks. This will not be entertained and the ordered food will be sent back. The receptionist has been instructed not to accept these deliveries. Kindly note that the above is with immediate effect. Request compliance."

Speaking to TNM, the principal, who asked for the name of the school not to be disclosed, stated that the management and faculty had several concerns regarding the security of the school as well as the nutrition needs of the students.

"This is not a regular affair here. But we noticed this happening once or twice, which is why I decided to put a stop to it. Since children cannot bring phones to school, it is either their parents or other friends ordering food for them. This is why we decided to address the circular to the parents," the principal added.

The faculty members of the school first noticed that a large group of high school students had order food through these apps some days ago. Apart from this, multiple instances of delivery executives landing up at the school also prompted the management to take action.

"There is the question of security. I cannot let random people come to the school and deliver food as it poses an element of risk to both students, who are our responsibility, as well as teaching and the non-teaching staff," she said.

Another key concern was that of uniformity in school practices and to ensure equality at school.

"We have uniforms and other rules to ensure that every student if equal and there is parity. If we allow food delivery apps, there will be some students whose parents will not allow them to eat this food, there will be some who cannot afford every day and there will be students who will have easier access to app-based foods. This may create discrepancies which we want to avoid," she said.

The principal added that even during birthdays and special occasions, the school does not permit cutting of cakes or any kind of 'treating' inside the school and during classes. In addition to this, meeting the nutrition needs of students was also an important criterion behind asking parents to refrain from ordering via food-based apps.

"We generally discourage bringing junk food for lunch or snacks. Although we don't check lunch boxes, if we notice that children are bringing unhealthy food for lunch, we tell them not to do so. This is also why we want to avoid an influx of unhealthy food, which is facilitated by delivery apps," she added.

Food delivery apps cater to individual orders and do not track data of the delivery locations of each order. The information lies with the delivery executives who receive the location of the delivery directly.

Swiggy and Uber Eats were not available for comment.

Crime
A clash between Anandhu’s group and another group during the Konchiravila temple festival is believed to be the reason behind the crime.
  • Friday, March 15, 2019 - 17:05

Two days after 21-year-old Anandhu Gireesh from Konchiravila was found murdered, the Thiruvananthapuram police on Thursday booked and arrested 11 more accused in the case.

Anandhu’s body was found near a bike showroom close to Kaimanam on the Karamana - Kaliyikkavila national highway on Wednesday. According to the police, a conspiracy had been hatched to abduct and kill Anandhu by the accused.

“We have arrested 11 people so far in the case. These include Arun Babu (22), Abhilash (29), Karthik (21), Vishnu Raj (23), Harilal (23), Vinish Raj (20), Aneesh (24), Akhil (21) and Vijay Raj (18),” Karamana police told TNM. Two others, who were arrested on Wednesday, include 19-year-old Balu and 21-year-old Roshan.

Cases have been registered against the accused in the Karamana station.

“The sections we have registered are 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention),” the officer added.

According to reports, a clash had taken place between Anandhu’s group and another group from Neeramankara during the Konchiravila temple festival on Tuesday, and this is believed to be the reason behind the crime.

Anandhu’s abduction came to light after one of his friends received a phone call from Anandhu’s number informing him about the same. Soon after this, Anandhu’s mobile phone was switched off.

“Anandhu’s murder was the result of a small argument which flared up and turned into murder. The accused persons and the victim had known each other previously and have had altercations before. The accused persons were found to be in an intoxicated state prior to the incident,” the officer added.

When Anandhu’s body was discovered, it was found that the nerves on his hands were cut.

Crime
Ranjit and his wife, a couple in Bengaluru, were allegedly attacked after they protested against stones being thrown at stray dogs.
  • Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 18:09

Ranjit Joseph and his wife are longtime residents of Shastri Nagar in Bengaluru. Having lived in the locality for close to a decade, along with their dog Browny, afternoon or evening walks with their pet were a routine affair. The couple would also frequently feed the strays in the locality who would walk with them. 

But a series of events on Sunday, March 10, made the couple keenly aware of the continuing violence against dog feeders in the city. “We were chased and attacked by a bunch of goons and my wife was stabbed in the head, all for protesting against them throwing stones at the strays and at Browny,” Ranjit alleged in a Facebook post. 

Speaking to TNM, Ranjit said that the attackers, who stayed in a neighbouring apartment in Shastri Nagar had got agitated as the stray dogs had barked at them while they were riding their bikes. 

“They had just crossed us and the dogs started barking. They got down and started pelting stones at the strays and at my pet. This is when we started protesting and they attacked us from nowhere,” he alleges. 

While Ranjit and his wife managed to escape the assault and walk back home to collect their phones and report to the police, a third person allegedly approached them with a small metal weapon and attempted to stab his wife. 

A complaint was filed at the HAL police station, but the couple say that this problem does not end here. 

“Dog feeders and strays regularly face such violence and persecution from people. It is an ongoing menace,” Ranjit tells TNM. 

Violence against strays 

While Ranjit was filing a complaint with the HAL police against the violence he and the strays underwent, a one-month-old stray pup was being clobbered to death in Avadi, Chennai on the same day, for barking at Ramu, a 52-year-old man who has been accused of the crime. 

Speaking to TNM, Dawn Williams, General Manager of Blue Cross in Chennai said that CCTV footage of the pup being beaten to death circulated on social media, prompted him to file a complaint. 

“The accused can be seen holding a 7 kg log and beating the 30-day old pup 11 times, until he snuffs the life out of it. I filed a complaint with the Avadi T6 police against the accused Ramu, a carpenter from the locality,” Dawns adds. 

A case has been filed under sections 278 (making environment noxious to health), 428 (Mischief by killing or maiming animal of the value of 10 Rs) and 429 (Mischief by killing of maiming cattle etc of any value or animal of any value above Rs 50) the IPC and under section 11 (1A) (besting, kicking, subjecting an animal to any kind of pain or suffering) of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 196.  The accused was also arrested. 

Persecution of stray dogs and feeders 

Ranjit believes that hatred against dog feeders has been on the rise mainly due to misconceptions about the ‘stray dog menace’. 

“People think that because we feed dogs, the stray dog count is increasing in the street. This is not the case. If the dogs are given food and shelter by the street’s residents, they act as the guardians of the street and will not let other strays as well as strangers enter the territory,” Ranjit says. 

Dawn also supports this argument. 

“They provide solid security to the street and they alert people if any strangers enter the locality. If you look at it, these dogs rarely ever bark at people who reside in the area. They are only wary of strangers and that is a good thing,” Dawn says. 

However, residents who are feeders cannot shirk some of the responsibilities that they have towards the stray dogs. 

“It is not just enough to give them food. You need to vaccinate and sterilise them. As a feeder, I always make sure that I give them food in an isolated area so as not to inconvenience other residents. I have also tied up with the BBMP and NGOs to get atleast 7-8 dogs in our street vaccinated and sterilised. Once that is done, there is no risk of population explosion,” Ranjit adds. 

Dawn adds that lack of organisation among feeder networks result in many not doing it the right way. 

“I am against violence and assault of feeders who are helping stray dogs. However, if somebody attempts to feed stray dogs by dropping chicken guts or liver in front of my doorstep, I am bound to get annoyed. Dog feeders should understand how to carry out feeding and other activities. If they do want to help, they should maybe speak with experts such as the Blue Cross or other activists and learn the proper way to do it,” he says. 

Filing police complaints against attackers 

Dawn observes that although cases of violence against stray dogs happen in Chennai, their incidence has reduced drastically since 2010. 

“When I moved to Chennai for the first time in 2010, there would be a case of stray dog violence every week. Most of my time I spent visiting police stations and going to court in order to report these cases. In 2014 alone, I had unearthed around 400 carcasses of dogs who had been poisoned or beaten to death by people. Following this, many other NGOs too began filing police complaints. Now, we hardly hear cases of violence against animals. It happens only once in a while in the city,” he adds. 

As for complaints against attackers and their arrests, Dawn says that his intention is not to put them behind bars but to report such cases. 

“Most of these people, who are violent towards innocent animals for no reason, need help. They have a problem and they need counselling. By reporting these cases, I am only attempting to bring this to light and it is in no way an attempt to incarcerate or punish these people. They need to be counselled and brought back,” he says. 

Sex for cash scandal
Nirmala Devi, the main accused in the cash for sex scandal, was granted bail by the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on the condition that she not speak to the media.
  • Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 18:30

Eleven months after Nirmala Devi, the main accused in the infamous sex for cash scandal in Madurai Kamaraj University, was arrested by the Tamil Nadu police, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court granted her bail on Tuesday.

Noting that, since the investigation of the case was complete and chargesheet filed and considering the state government’s submission stating no objections, the bench agreed to grant Nirmala Devi bail. While granting the accused bail, the High Court asked the state government if it wanted to impose any conditions. To this, the state government submitted that the accused must not speak to the media, and this request was accepted by the court.

Although no explanation for the gag order on the accused was given in court, sources state that there could be several reasons for the government not wanting the accused to give a statement to the press.

“In February 2019, Assistant Professor V Murugan and former research scholar Karuppusamy - who are the two other accused in the case - were granted bail by the Supreme Court. Following this, Murugan had given exclusive bytes to news channels, Sun TV and Thanthi TV where he said that the case must be investigated by the CBI. This could be a reason that the government does not want Nirmala Devi to address the press. They do not want a repeat of this,” a source inside the Madras High Court told TNM.

Pre-emptive move to not politicise issue?

Another argument is that the government’s gag order on Nirmala Devi is an attempt to nip a potential controversy in the bud, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and the Tamil Nadu bye polls, as Nirmala Devi’s statements could be twisted or misused against the government to suit the interests of opposition parties.

However, critics state that this possible pre-emptive action by the government is against freedom of expression and is not in its place to do so. Speaking to TNM, Saravanan Annadurai, DMK spokesperson and advocate at the Madras High Court said that the gag order on the accused was an attempt to curtail freedom of expression.

“This is a very rare condition to be imposed on an accused who is granted on bail. I don’t understand the rationale behind this gag order. If the investigation of the case is pending and the chargesheet is not yet filed, then asking her to not speak to the media would be reasonable. However, that is not the case here and such a blanket gag order does not augur well for democracy,” Saravana says.

Further he also added that this gag order could indicate that the government was attempting to hide something.

“Why must she (Nirmala Devi) not speak? Who will be affected if she speaks and what is the government worried about? If the condition was to prevent political parties from misusing her statements, then that is the Election Commission’s problem to worry about. The EC must take cognisance of it and there is a proper mechanism in place to avoid such issues. It is not the court or state government’s worry. The government cannot anticipate things and attempt to curb freedom of expression,” he added.

Another senior advocate who TNM spoke to also said that he did not come across such a bail condition on other accused.  

‘Media gag on convicts not comparable’

There have been instances where a gag order has been imposed on convicts. In September 2017, AG Perarivalan, one of the seven life term convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case was granted a 30-day parole and an extension after 27 years in confinement. The parole conditions included avoiding press photos and interviews, restrictions from attending public and political functions, staying at his own place in Jolarpet and reporting to the nearest police station every day.

However, the gag order placed on Perarivalan and the one on Nirmala Devi cannot be compared, Saravanan says.

“Perarivalan was a convict, Nirmala Devi is an accused. Further, Perarivalan was on parole and in this case, Nirmala Devi has been granted a bail. Conditions for bail and parole are entirely different. What’s important is that, this bail is granted in a pre-trial stage. The trial for the case has not been begun and hence it does my warrant a gag order. Therefore, I feel the two cases cannot be compared,” he added.

In April 2018, Nirmala Devi, a former Assistant Professor in an arts college in Aruppukkottai, Tamil Nadu, was arrested for attempting to lure girl students to provide sexual favours to ‘higher officials’ of the Madurai Kamaraj University in exchange for money, grades and career opportunities. The scandal came to light when a 19-minute long audio clip of a phone call between Nirmala Devi and the students she was trying to lure went viral. In the clip, Nirmala Devi could be heard telling the students about ‘opportunities’ that awaited them if they agreed to do an ‘assignment’ she was offering them. The students were even promised better marks, money and academic prospects to do the ‘assignment’. Nirmala Devi also alluded to Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit in the conversation.

Along with Nirmala Devi, Assistant Professor V Murugan and former Research Scholar Karuppusamy were named accused number 2 and 3 in the case. The case was investigated by the CB-CID who filed a chargesheet which named the three of them as accused. While Murugan and Karuppusamy were granted bail by the Supreme Court, Nirmala Devi’s bail plea was rejected multiple times by various courts until Tuesday. 

Police
The Additional District Police chief has been asked to conduct a session on appropriate conduct for all ministerial staff members before March 20.
  • Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 20:04

Kerala’s Idukki police has issued a unique circular to its entire force, ordering all officers and staff to refrain from addressing each other disrespectfully.

“It is very pathetic to notice that most of the ministerial staff members are behaving with their colleagues in a disrespectful manner and addressing each other in colloquial ways as ‘Eda’, ‘Poda’, ‘Edi’, ‘Podi’ (sic),” read the order issued by Idukki Superintendent of Police KB Venugopal on March 1.

The order also emphasised that henceforth all ministerial staff members of equal rank must address each other as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’.

“The officers in above rank may also address the subordinate or below rank officers only by their names and avoid using native words such as Eda, Poda, Edi, Podi,” the second point in the order stated.

The necessity for the circular arose as complaints of ministerial staff members resorting to addressing each other colloquially while on duty came to the notice of the Chief of Police, a local source told TNM.

A series of events that occurred in recent times had also prompted the Idukki police chief to issue the order. According to the source, a Facebook post in which police officers from a station in Idukki were found abusing each other did the rounds last month.

“A few officers from a station in Idukki had got into a fight. Following this, they had put up posts addressing each other disrespectfully,” the source added.

The order also observed that most of the District Police Office (DPO) staff are reluctant to address police officers as ‘Sir’ and are addressing them by their names without considering their service seniority or rank.

“The police personnel shall also address the ministerial staff as ‘Sir/Madam’ according to their service seniority,” the order further stated.

Don’t salute for ‘silly considerations’

The order also stated that several senior police officers, even above the ranks of Assistant Sub Inspector of Police, were offering salutes to the staff for getting ‘silly considerations’, and that this was shameful for the entire police force. It asked police officers to approach the Additional SP or the District Police Chief of Idukki if they were not receiving proper service from any of the sections/seats of the DPO.

“If any police officers have complaints on service matters, they can contact the ‘Police help desk’ functioning in the DPO,” the order read.

Session on appropriate conduct to be held

Idukki’s Additional District Police chief has been asked to conduct a session on morale/behaviour for all ministerial staff members. The session must be conducted before March 20, 2019, the order stated.

The order also said that staff, including class-IV employees and part time sweepers, were seen to be addressing senior officers by their names and said that this was not allowed. Further, all junior clerks were instructed to be at their desks during work hours. Leaving the office early was not allowed, the order added.

KB Venugopal clarified that the order had been issued with the intention of improving the overall functioning of the stations as well as of Idukki’s police force.

Also read: Finally, Kerala cops decide to be civil to public: To address all as sir, ma'am, friend

Politics
Kummanam Rajasekharan, the former State president of BJP Kerala, is likely to contest from Thiruvananthapuram.
  • Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 15:13
Image courtesy: BJP Keralam/Facebook

Drum beats and cries of “Jai BJP” rang high outside the Thiruvananthapuram airport as former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan returned to Kerala on Tuesday morning to rejoin politics ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Crowds of BJP cadre had thronged the airport to welcome the former State president of BJP.

Speaking to media persons outside the airport, Kummanam said that it was time for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to lead the people in “the renaissance period” that Kerala is witnessing. “It is time for reformation movement in Kerala. The NDA is leading this reformation movement in Kerala. This party has succeeded in mobilising the people to go forward to spearhead this renaissance, reformation and transformation movement,” Kummanam said.

On arriving in Thiruvananthapuram, Kummanam was also welcomed with a bike rally by cadres. The rally that started from Pettah, passed through General Hospital, LMS, Palayam, Statue and finally ended at Pazhavangadi Ganpathikovil in the city.

Later, state President of BJP Kerala, Sreedharan Pillai welcomed Kummanam at the state office.

The senior BJP leader had renounced his position of State president of the BJP to assume the chair of the Governor of Mizoram in 2018. However, before completing his tenure, Kummanam resigned from his Governorship on March 8 and returned to Kerala to join back state politics. Meanwhile, Jagdish Mukhi, a member of the RSS and former Lieutenant Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, has succeeded Kummanam as the governor of Mizoram.

Kummanam is likely to contest with the NDA ticket from Thiruvananthapuram and the senior leader is also the BJP's best bet in the constituency. With the Congress fielding Shashi Tharoor, who won from Thiruvananthapuram the last two terms, and the CPI(M) fielding C Diwakaran, Thiruvananthapuram is set to witness a tight battle between the three parties.

With Kummanam's return, the equations between top leaders have been strained with a lack of clarity over who will lead the party's campaign. 

Crime
The accused, Ajin Reji Mathew, had carried two bottles of petrol with him.
  • Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 11:06

In a shocking incident of violence, an 18-year-old man set a young woman on fire in broad daylight on Tuesday morning in Pathanamthitta in Kerala.

The victim, 20-year old Kavitha Vijayakumar, is critical after sustaining 65% burn injuries and currently undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Thiruvalla.

The local police have taken into custody the accused, Ajin Reji Mathew, a resident of Kumbanad. The incident took place around 9.30 am on Tuesday when the victim, a BSc student at the Tata Institute of Medical Sciences, was on her way to college. According to eyewitnesses, the victim and the stalker were seen having a heated conversation near the Chilanka junction in Thiruvalla around 8.30 am. Following this, the stalker, who had brought with him two bottles of petrol, emptied the fuel on the victim and set her on fire.

Police sources say that the victim and the stalker studied together in school.

Speaking to TNM, an officer from the Thiruvalla police said, "During questioning, the accused has given a statement claiming that they both were in a relationship. But that is his version and we are yet to verify this.” Reports state that the victim and her family had rejected a marriage proposal from the accused, following which the incident took place.

The accused, who is in the custody of the Thiruvalla police, is currently undergoing a medical test at the Government Hospital.

“Following the incident, the accused had to tried to flee from the scene, but was caught by bystanders and handed over to the police,” the officer added.

Bystanders also helped douse the fire and took the girl to the hospital.

In a similar incident in February 2017, a young man had set a girl on fire in Kottayam, that too inside a classroom of the Kottayam School of Medical Education (KSME), after the girl had been rejecting his advances. The man had doused himself with petrol first and then targeted the girl. With more than 80% burns, both of them succumbed to their injuries later at the Government Medical College Hospital in Kottayam.

Adarsh (26) was a former student of Physiotherapy at the Gandhinagar center of KSME, while the girl was identified as Lekshmi (21), a final year student at the same college.

Disaster relief fund
Heat wave, sunstroke and sunburn have been declared as 'State-specific disasters' by the Kerala Government.
  • Monday, March 11, 2019 - 17:14

The Kerala government has issued an order declaring heat wave, sunstroke and sunburn as ‘State-specific disasters,’ thereby making victims eligible for relief aid from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). The order comes as Kerala witnesses rising mercury levels, with heatwave hitting a number of districts, like Kozhikode and Malappuram.

The circular issued on March 9 states that the Government of India has “permitted to use 10 per cent of the annual SDRF/NDRF allocation for relief assistance to ‘State-Specific Disasters’ within the local context of the State.”

It also states that such local disasters and relief norms have to be declared and approved by the State Executive Committee (SEC) of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).

The order states that families of those who die from a sunstroke will receive Rs 4 lakh as ex-gratia.  For victims who lose their eyesight, the state will provide Rs 59,100 for treatment, if the damage to the eye is between 40-60 per cent. If the damage is above 60 per cent, Rs 2 lakh will be given to the victim and their family.

Any form of grievous injury from sunstroke or heat burn that requires hospitalisation will also receive relief aid. If the victim spends over one week in the hospital, he/she will get Rs 12,700. If the hospitalisation period Is less than one week, Rs 4,300 will be granted.

Other emergencies for which the SDRF’s funds will be released have also been mentioned in the order. The government can release funds to evacuate people from an affected area or one that is likely to be affected. Funds are also allowed for the hiring of boats to carry out immediate relief and saving lives. The SDRF funds can be used to provide for temporary accommodation for food, clothing, health care etc, for those who suffered from sun strokes and/or heatwaves and have been put up in relief camps. Funds for the above-mentioned emergencies will be allocated following a cost-based assessment of need one by the District Disaster Management Authority.

In rural and urban areas, funds can be used to provide emergency drinking water, as well as for disposal of dead bodies or carcasses.

Relief aid for loss of milch and draught animals

In the event of loss of cattle or other milch animals due to heatwave or sunstrokes, the government will also fund their replacement. Following the death of a cow or buffalo, the owner gets Rs 30,000 while in case of a death of sheep, goats or pigs, the owners will get Rs 3,000. In case draught animals such as bullocks, horses or camels die, the owners are eligible for Rs 25,000. For the death of poultry, owners are eligible for Rs 25,000 and in case of death of calves, donkeys, pony, mule etc, the owner will get Rs 16,000 as relief assistance fund.

A detailed circular will be released by the government on how to utilise funds provided for heatwave, sunstroke and sunburn.