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. Books on black magic, weapons, and cooker among the pieces of evidence found from the house of the accused in the Elanthoor human sacrifice case
2. Congress to go to the polls tomorrow; result to be declared on October 19
3. 250 schools in Kerala vulnerable to drug pushing, finds Intelligence Wing; Excise department tightens vigil
4. Nayanthara surrogacy row: Actor says her marriage was registered 6 years ago and that the surrogate is a relative
5. Kerala looking to procure rice from Andhra Pradhesh directly in a bid to control raging prices
Let's get into the details....
1. The police team probing the Elanthoor human sacrifice case in Kerala has found that Mohammed Shafi, the prime accused, had three fake Facebook profiles, two of which they were able to access. The investigators are trying to find details of the phone used by Shafi.
The police searched the house at Elanthoor, where the crime took place, as part of evidence collection. It is the house where Bhagval Singh, a massage therapist, and his wife Laila performed the human sacrifice along with Shafi, whom the police have identified as the mastermind behind the crime. Two women, Rosly and Padmam, were brutally tortured and killed by the accused in separate incidents. The brutal episode came to light during the probe into a missing complaint filed by Padmam’s relatives. Shafi contacted Bhagval Singh through Facebook using a fake profile.
Police found two Malayalam books on black magic in the house. A pressure cooker purportedly used by the accused to cook human flesh was also recovered. The evidence collected has been sent for forensic examination. According to police, only Shafi and Bhagval Singh consumed human flesh.
On Saturday, police recovered the weapons used by the accused to commit the crime. Four machetes, two wood logs and a razor were among the pieces of evidence recovered. The weapons contained the fingerprints of the accused, according to police sources.
The police spotted blood stains on the floor of the house and in the refrigerator. The investigators also collected samples of ashes found near the massage centre on the compound. Bhagval Singh had earlier deposed before the police that they had burned the remains of the victims there.
2. The much-awaited Congress presidential election will be held on Monday, October 17. All eyes will be on whether Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor could stage an upset win over senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge.
Voting will be open from 10 am to 4 pm and the result will be announced on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the election campaign drew to a close on Sunday evening. Tharoor ended his campaign in Lucknow and flew back to Thiruvananthapuram, where he will exercise his franchise at the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters.
Kharge, however, joined Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in his Bharat Jodo Yatra at Ballari in Karnataka. The Kharge camp firmly believes that Tharoor won't garner more than 300 votes.
Meanwhile, Madhusudan Mistry, Chairman of the party’s Central Election Authority, brushed aside Tharoor’s claims on “lapses” in the voters' list and claimed a new list, after rectifying all the shortcomings, has been handed over to the leader from Kerala.
Polling booths have been set up at the headquarters of Pradesh Congress Committees in all States and Union Territories and the AICC in Delhi.
Voters should produce their ID cards issued by the Central Election Authority. Those who are yet to collect ID cards can procure the same from 9 am on Monday by producing either their Aadhaar card or voter ID.
The names of the candidates will be listed in alphabetic order. The finger of the voters will be marked with ink.
There are two sections in the ballot paper. The voters should mention the Pradesh Congress Committee they represent, their name, serial number, and place in the second part below. They should tear this part and hand over the same to the Returning Officer.
Voters should mark the number ‘1’ against the name of the candidate whom they wish to vote for.
The vote will be invalid if they mark an ‘x’ or tick sign.
Once the voting process is over, the ballot box will be sealed in the presence of the agents of the candidates. The agents and Returning Officers will sign on the sticker on the sealing. The Returning Officers will then carry the same to the AICC headquarters.
The ballot box will be opened at 10 am on October 19 in the presence of the agents. The votes from all the states will be mixed before counting them. The result will be announced by evening.
3. The Intelligence wing of the Excise department has drawn up a list of 250 educational institutions in Kerala that are vulnerable to drug pushing. The Excise Commissioner has ordered lightning inspections at these schools once a week.
The list was prepared based on drug abuse instances among school children and their interactions with drug gangs. The report indicated the presence of drug peddlers on the premises of such schools and on routes taken by children while returning home.
The report specifically mentioned that drug peddlers are attempting to lure students outside school campuses since they are aware of the strict monitoring on the premises of such educational institutions.
The Excise bike patrol team will continuously monitor these places and rein them in. They will conduct patrolling on the roads half an hour before the classes start and also just before classes wrap up.
Excise teams have been directed to keep a hawk-eye on bus stops internet cafes and juice stalls where students are likely to assemble in groups.
4. Actor Nayanthara, who is facing a probe over surrogacy, has revealed that the surrogate mother is her relative.
In an affidavit given to the Tamil Nadu health department, Nayanthara and her husband Vignesh also clarified that though they tied the knot in a ceremony in June this year, their marriage was registered six years ago.
They have also produced the marriage registration certificate along with the affidavit.
The development comes in the wake of a probe ordered by Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian to find out if the couple had violated surrogacy laws.
According to the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act and the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, enacted in 2021, the couple is deemed ‘eligible’ for surrogacy only if they have been married for five years. The wife must be aged between 25 and 50 years and the husband, between 26 and 55 years. The couple must not have any living child, biological or adopted.
As per the law, a surrogate mother has to be a close relative of the couple, a married woman with a child of her own, aged between 25 and 35 years, who has been a surrogate only once in her life.
It was on October 9 that the couple revealed they had become parents of twin boys.
The couple maintains that they have not violated any laws. According to them, the surrogacy agreement was signed last December.
The surrogate is indeed a relative of Nayanthara based in UAE who takes care of the latter's business in Dubai. The hospital in Chennai where the twins were born has also been identified.
5. In an attempt to rein in retail prices, the Kerala Government is looking to procure rice directly from Andhra Civil Supplies. The state would initiate a discussion on this matter with the Andhra Pradesh government on Monday, said State Food and Civil Supplies Minister G R Anil.
Within a month, the retail price of rice rose by Rs 15 per kg in the state. The prices of Matta and Jaya rice, which are mostly used in the state, have increased by Rs 10 to Rs 15 per kg.
Currently, branded Matta rice is priced at Rs 60-63 per kg. The price of Jaya rice, which was being sold at Rs 40 per kg a month ago, has reached Rs 55.
Traders indicate that retail prices are unlikely to change till next January. They attribute the sudden rise in prices to reduced production in the rice-producing states of Andhra and Karnataka and the imposition of 5% GST on packed rice.
Mill owners said that though the season has started in Karnataka, they are not getting enough rice. Rice prices are likely to come down only when the harvest begins in Andhra, they said.
There is a significant shortage of rice stock in large mills in Kerala. The state's internal production does not affect the open market, as the rice produced here is stored by the government itself and distributed through the public distribution system (ration shops).
That brings us to the end of this episode. Be sure to come back tomorrow. As always, thanks for listening to Daily News Dose.