Hello, this is your daily dose of news from Onmanorama. I'm your host, Vishnu, and these are the major news stories of the day:
1. Lakhimpur Kheri violence: Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish surrenders following Supreme Court orders
2. Congress keen to try Prashant Kishor's reboot plan
3. Reshma, accused of harbouring CPM activist's murderer in Kannur, threatens legal action over defamation after arrest
4. Minister V Sivankutty clarifies Kerala didn't send any officials to study Kejriwal model after AAP MLA Atishi's tweet
5. Widespread raids after ammonia, formalin found in fish samples in Kerala
Let's get into the details:
1. Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Kumar Mishra Teni and also the main accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence of October 3, 2021, surrendered in the court of the chief judicial magistrate on Sunday in compliance of the Supreme Court directive.
This comes just a week after the Supreme Court cancelled his bail and further granted him a week to surrender.
Ashish surrendered in the court a day ahead of the expiry of his bail term.
He was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court in February 2022. This pertains to the violence that broke out in Lakhimpur Kheri in October 2021, where eight people including four farmers were killed.
Last week, the apex court, while hearing the petitions filed by farmers challenging the accused's bail, ruled against Ashish Mishra. The three-judge bench noted that the victims of the violence were denied the right of hearing in the Allahabad High Court which had granted bail to Mishra. It also asked the high court to reconsider the bail granted to Ashish Mishra.
The incident dates back to October 3, 2021, when a group of farmers was protesting in Lakhimpur Kheri district against the Centre's three farm laws. However, a violent clash broke out between the farmers following which an SUV reportedly owned by Union MoS Ajay Mishra, ran over the farmers, killing four of them.
As alleged by the protesting farmers, Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra was inside the car when the accident took place.
Following this, a case was registered and the Supreme Court also appointed retired Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Rakesh Kumar Jain to monitor and investigate the incident. An SIT was also reconstituted by the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government, which included three IPS officers.
At the same time, the minister's son was also arrested.
However, after investigation and filing a charge sheet, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court granted bail to Mishra on February 10, 2022.
2. The Congress' much-hyped meetings with political strategist Prashant Kishor went on the whole week with Congress workers wondering whether he will join the party or not. While some are over enthusiastic, others are suspicious about his sudden inclination for the Congress, more so after the poll loss in Goa where the Trinamool Congress made a dent in Congress fortunes in recent state polls.
Congress leaders and Kishor held meetings till Friday to deliberate on the roadmap for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, after he gave a powerpoint presentation, comprising around 600 slides, to senior party leaders. The committee formed by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi has also submitted its report and most of the senior leaders are not averse to his joining the party.
According to party sources, a majority of the Congress leaders are convinced by the plan mooted by PK, as Kishor is popularly known, but some are wary. However, sources say that PK is very much on board but whether he will be inducted into the party or will be only limited to a consultant's role has yet to decided by Sonia Gandhi.
Sources in the dissident group G-23 are not too impressed as they say the party leadership is overlooking and ignoring in-house talent and relying on somebody who is not loyal to the party and is a professional consultant. They say all that PK is telling the Congress leadership has been raised by the group in their letter to Sonia Gandhi and in subsequent meetings.
Kishor is suggesting a non-Gandhi as party president, revival of the parliamentary board, end of nepotism, and turning the party into an election machine -- all these issues have been raised by the group and this can happen only when the party goes for in-house elections from the grassroot level to the Congress Working Committee level, said a source.
The Congress leaders may disagree with the suggestions of someone outside the Gandhi family leading the party, but sources indicate that Kishor has suggested a massive revamp of the party.
3. P M Reshma, the teacher who was arrested along with absconding accused and RSS activist Nijil Das in the murder of a CPM activist, has vowed to launch a legal fight over the scandalous allegations against her.
A day after Reshma's arrest, which happened soon after Nijil was nabbed from a hideout near Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's house at his native place in Pinarayi, her lawyer claimed the police version is a cock and bull story.
The remand report of the police states Reshma allowed Das to seek refuge in a house belonging to her overseas-based husband despite knowing that he was an accused in a murder case — that of CPM activist Punnol Haridasan. Reshma's lawyer P Premarajan refuted this claim stating the house was let out after due process and a lease deed was even made. "Her arrest is a violation of human rights. She should not be remanded in a bailable case. Scanadalous claims are being made through social media. Legal action will be taken," Premarajan told Manorama News on Sunday.
Nijil Das, an accused in the murder of CPM activist Punnol Haridasan, was arrested on Friday from a house hardly 200 metres from Kerala CM's house at Pandyala Mukku locality of Pinarayi. Reshma, who was accused of harbouring the murder accused, was also arrested soon after, but let out on bail. Reshma has been barred from entering New Mahe and Pinarayi as per her bail terms.
The CPM is on the defensive over her arrest as she is reportedly from a family that backs the party. Reports even say she was associated with its students wing, SFI, earlier.
4. Kerala General Education Minister V Sivankutty on Sunday clarified that the state government did not send any officials to Delhi to learn about how schools are managed by the Arvind Kejriwal-led government there. The minister issued a clarification after Aam Aadmi Party MLA Atishi Marlena tweeted about the visit of “officials from Kerala” to a school in Kalkaji.
“It was wonderful to host officials from Kerala at one of our schools in Kalkaji. They were keen to understand and implement our education model in their state. This is @ArvindKejriwal Govt’s idea of nation building. Development through collaboration,” Marlena tweeted on Saturday. She is a member of the Political Affairs Committee of AAP.
Reacting to the tweet, Sivankutty on Sunday tweeted: “Kerala’s Dept of Education has not sent anyone to learn about the ‘Delhi Model’. At the same time, all assistance was provided to officials who had arrived from Delhi to study the ‘Kerala Model’ last month.” He also asked for the details of the 'so-called' officials who were welcomed by the AAP MLA. He posted the clarification in Malayalam on Facebook also.
After Sivankutty's tweet gathered public attention, Marlena mentioned the names of the officials who visited the school. However, they are not state government officials. The Dr B.R. Ambedkar School of Specialised Excellence in Kalkaji was visited by Victor T. I., Regional Secy of CBSE School Management Association, and Dr. M. Dinesh Babu, Confederation of Kerala Sahodaya Complexes.
5. Widespread raids carried out by the food safety department unearthed use of chemical preservatives like ammonia and formalin in fish products. It collected 1,002 samples from 1,766 raids conducted across Kerala in the last few days after reports of fatal poisoning of cats and adverse reactions in humans who consumed the toxic fish emerged.
As many as 3,632 kg of stale and contaminated fish was destroyed by officials as part of the special drive called Operation Matsya. The department seized 1,706.88 kg of stale fish laced with chemicals on Saturday alone. As many as 809 samples were sent for chemical examination in laboratories.
Of the fish samples that were collected during raids and sent for laboratory examination, nine were found to be having the presence of ammonia and formalin. The chemical preservatives were found in the fish samples collected from Idukki, Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Malappuram districts.
Special squads have been constituted under food safety assistant commissioners in all districts. Raids have also begun to find adulteration in other food products. The department has intensified inspection at the interstate check posts to examine fish products being brought into Kerala from other states.
That brings us to the end of this episode. Be sure to come back tomorrow. As always, thanks for listening to Daily News Dose.