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Kerala cyanide killer case is very challenging: Top cop Behra

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Kozhikode (Kerala) Oct 12 Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra admitted on Saturday that cyanide serial killer Jolly Amma Joseph’s case is a very challenging one as there is a gap of 14 years between the first and the sixth alleged killing.

He also did not rule out himself questioning the prime accused, Jolly.

After lengthy meetings with the police probe team investigating the murder trail in the family of the accused serial killer, Behra said: “This is a challenging case. I have come here, as this is an important case.

“Six murders have taken place and hence there are six separate cases.

“The challenge in this case is that the first murder took place 17 years back and the last one took place three years back and hence collection of evidence is most crucial.”

He spoke to the media, before heading into another brain storming session.

All the mysterious deaths took place in the family of retired government official Tom Thomas and all six dead bodies were exhumed last week for the further scientific investigations.

“Today we have constituted six different teams along with a supervision team and more people will now be inducted. It will include more forensic and legal experts.

“The other challenge is collection of evidences, the team here has been successful in detecting the crime,” said Behra.

He also pointed out though that nothing is impossible for the investigators.

“There will now be several tests that has to take place and my job is to assist the team. At the moment the task of the probe team is to get maximum information from her.

“We are optimistic, there will be some traces left somewhere,” added Behra.

The first in the family to die in 2002 was Jolly’s mother-in-law Annamma, a retired teacher. She was followed by Jolly’s father-in-law, Tom Thomas, in 2008. In 2011, their son and Jolly’s husband, Roy Thomas, also died to be followed by the death of Roy’s maternal uncle, Mathew, who died in 2014.

The two-year-old child of Sily, a relative by marriage, died the following year, while Sily passed away in 2016.

It was only on Friday that the police registered five more separate cases of murder.

It was on Thursday, a lower court here remanded Jolly and her two accomplices — M.S. Mathew, who procured cyanide, and jewellery store worker Praju Kumar — to six-day police custody for the murder of Jolly’s husband Roy Thomas.

On Friday, all the three accused were taken to six places as part of evidence collection. It was part of investigation into the death of Jolly’s first husband Roy Thomas.

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Ousted Kerala CM’s secy appears before Customs officials

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Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram, July 14 (IANS) M. Sivasankar, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s secretary and IT secretary who was removed, here on Tuesday, presented himself before the top Customs and Central Excise officials.

A three-member Customs officials team had gone to Sivasankar’s house in the afternoon to serve a notice upon him. Sivasankar, present at the house, said he was ready to appear before the officials during the day itself.

Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate, here, is among the four booked by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for allegedly facilitating smuggling of 30 kg gold in the diplomatic baggage to Thiruvananthapuram from Dubai on July 5.

Sivasankar, a senior IAS officer, ran into trouble after his alleged links with Swapna surfaced. She was on the run after the arrest of her friend and former colleague P.S. Sarith by the Customs.

Later, it was revealed that Swapna and Sivasankar were close and had attended several Kerala government events.

According to Swapna’s call records, which are in possession of the media, she was in touch with Sivasankar and Kerala Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel.

Reacting to this, Jaleel said he always believed she was secretary at the UAE Consulate General and the calls made was never in untimely hours.

“I received a message from the UAE Counsel General on May 27 to discuss handing over of Ramadan kits. He said Swapna would get in touch for further discussion.

“Now that the NIA is probing the case, my doors are open for them. If any staff member of mine had any contact with her, it’s their responsibility. I am not responsible for that,” said Jaleel.

The NIA arrested Swapna and Sandeep Nair from Bengaluru on Saturday for alleged role in the Kerala gold smuggling case.

On Sunday, the NIA brought them by road on a transit remand and presented them at an NIA court in Kochi, which remanded them to the custody.

The NIA had taken over the case on Friday and filed a FIR against the accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

–IANS

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‘Recommend your case for reinstatement’: SC to MP woman judge

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Madhya Pradesh High Court to reconsider the issue of reappointment of a former woman judicial officer who had resigned following an inquiry into her allegations of sexual harassment against a Madhya Pradesh High Court judge.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said it “would strongly recommend” the case of the judicial officer to the high court for reconsidering the appointment.

The bench also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and A S Bopanna assured senior lawyer Indira Jaising, appearing for the former judicial officer, that it would hear her plea in case the present order of the reconsideration does not yield result.

The apex court, on February 12, had observed that it may consider reappointing the former woman judicial officer and had asked the high court to deliberate on it.

Senior advocate Ravindra Srivastava, appearing for the High Court, said the issue of re-appointment was placed for the third time before the full bench of the High Court in February this year and it was turned down.

“She is seeking to be reinstated in MP with seniority and then transfer. The Full Court had held the acceptance of her resignation in 2014 as final,” he said.

“Why is the High Court not open to our suggestion. You (lawyer) please communicate our views,” the bench observed and granted four weeks’ time to the parties for taking a decision which has to be communicated to it in a month’s time.

Earlier, the Madhya Pradesh High Court had told the top court that the former woman judicial officer cannot be reinstated.

The high court judge, against whom sexual harassment complaint was made by her, was later given a clean chit in December 2017 by a Rajya Sabha-appointed panel which had probed the allegations.

In the hearing conducted on Tuesday through video-link, Jaising said that she was seeking an early hearing on the plea as her client was willing to work and should be accommodated in some other state on the same post and with same seniority.

The counsel for the High Court said that it was the case of voluntary resignation which was accepted in 2014 and besides the job, she also wanted the seniority.

The apex court then suggested Srivastava to consider the case as a fresh appointment. However, the suggestion was opposed by Jaising.

“She was a direct recruit in 2011, I do not remember her age…she aspires to be a HC judge and then become SC judge. How can I ask her to give up her aspirations,” Jaising said.

In response to the bench”s suggestion that she should be willing to give up seniority if the priority was work, the senior lawyer said, “she is 48, how can she start from bottom”.

Earlier, the top court had asked the MP High Court to mull over the possibility of reinstating the former woman judicial officer within four weeks.

The woman had moved the apex court seeking that the administrative order of January 11, 2017, passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissing her application for reinstatement into the Madhya Pradesh Higher Judicial Services, should be set aside. PTI SJK ABA MNL MNL RKS RKS

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Assam’s Kaziranga park flooded, 51 animals killed, 102 rescued

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flood affected area

Guwahati, July 14 (IANS) Flood in different parts of Assam inundated large swathes of land in Kaziranga National Park, a World Heritage site, killing at least 51 wild animals though 102 animals have been rescued, officials said on Tuesday.

They said many tigers and rhinos had strayed into the nearby villages due to flooding of their habitats.

Officials of the Kaziranga National Park and the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said 95 per cent of the national park’s 430 sq km area was now flooded, with traffic movement on the National Highway-37 near Kaziranga now suspended.

According to the officials, 45 hog deer, three wild boars and one rhino, one wild buffalo and a swamp deer perished in the floodwater. Of the rescued animals, 86 were hog deer.

Park Director P. Sivakumar said that rising water level in the park areas had forced three sub-adult tigers to stray into a goat-shed in Kandolimari village and nearby areas.

“Two of the tigers have already been driven back into the park area and efforts are on to locate the third tiger,” Sivakumar told IANS over phone.

Formed in 1908, the Kaziranga National park, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985, is home to more than 2,200 one-horned Indian rhinoceros, approximately two third of the total world population.

Each year, the monsoon floods inundate the National Park, located on the edge of the Eastern Himalayan biodiversity hotspots of Golaghat and Nagaon district, forcing a large number of the wild animals to leave the park and head towards the nearby hills in Karbi Anglong district by crossing National Highway-37 that passes near the park’s boundary.

According to the officials, 45 animals, mostly hog deer, were injured due to flood and one by vehicle hit.

Of the 223 camps of forest personnel guarding the park, 173 have been inundated and 14 others vacated due to rising water levels.

Heavy monsoon rains over the past few weeks have led to massive flooding of the north-eastern state, inundating 2,763 villages and affecting around 24 lakh people and 103,806 hectares of crop area in 27 of its 33 districts.

According to ASDMA officials, with six more deaths in Assam on Monday, the death toll in the flood has risen to 50.

–IANS

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