CPI(M) State secretariat meet beginsThiruvananthapuram: The two-day State secretariat meeting of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) in Kerala began here on Monday to discuss various issues, including factionalism in the party and the new Professional Colleges Act. Party general secretary Prakash Karat is attending the meeting, sources said. The two-day secretariat meeting, to be followed by the meeting of the State committee, would also take decisions on the heads of corporations and boards. PTI

Thillankeri's remand extended

KANNUR: The remand period of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Valsan Thillankeri, accused in the case relating to the murder of a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) worker at Punnad here, was extended for two more weeks by a local court at Mattannur. Thillankeri, 14th accused in the case relating to the murder of CPI(M) worker Yakub was extended by the First Class Judicial Magistrate Court at Mattannur to July 31. The police had arrested Mr. Thillankeri on July 3. Staff Reporter

Cyriac John elected NCP State presidentKOCHI: The former Minister P. Cyriac John was elected president of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) State unit here on Sunday. Varkala B. Ravikumar will be the new vice-president and Mani C. Kappen the treasurer. T.P. Peethambaran, NCP general secretary, A.C. Shanmughadas, working committee member, and A.K. Saseendran, MLA, felicitated the newly elected office-bearers. Staff Reporter

Onam fete in the UAEKOCHI: The Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry will organise the Eastern Onachantha and Kerala Fest 2006 in the UAE between August 27 and September 5 at Ansar Mall on the Dubai-Sharjah Highway. Vice-presidents of the chamber Raja Sethunath and V.A. Yusuf said at a press conference here on Monday that the show would have over 50 stalls and would be the biggest Onam show in the UAE. Cultural festivals, entertainment programmes, shopping offers and ethnic cuisine would be part of the Onam festivities. There would be a non-stop carnival between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. Entry is free. Staff Reporter

Ticket checking driveTHIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As many as 276 cases of ticket-less or irregular travel and unreserved luggage were detected in a ticket checking drive carried out by divisional railway authorities on Saturday. A Southern Railway press release said Rs. 62,605 was collected towards fare and penalty during the drive. Staff Reporter

Railways accused of fleecing passengersTHIRUVANANTHAPURAM: P.K. Krishnadas, general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party State unit, has alleged "daylight robbery" of passengers by Railways. In a statement here on Monday, he said that though the Railways said fares had not been increased, it was fleecing people in other ways, such as conversion of express trains to super-fast services without improving any facility or reducing number of stops and collecting higher fares. The decision to double the number of Tatkal tickets without increasing the number of bogies was another. He charged the Railways with looting passengers in the name of Tatkal reservation. He warned of a strong agitation if the Railways did not turn back from such moves. Special Correspondent

Association's demandTHIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Collegiate Education Department Ministerial Staff Association has demanded the posting of a director in the department. The State committee of the association, which met at Ernakulam, also demanded the appointment of administrative assistants in Government colleges declared centres of excellence, appointment of attenders, filling of vacancies of the last grade posts and removal of `anomalies' in the pay revision. The meeting was chaired by president of the association P. Sasi. Special Correspondent

`Probe into flaws in distribution of benefits'KOLLAM: Agriculture Minister Mullakara Ratnakaran has said the Government will order a probe into the alleged flaws in the distribution of benefits to the dependants of farmers who had committed suicide owing to debts. Addressing a district-level meeting of agricultural officers here on Monday, he said that strong action would be initiated against those officers. Mr. Ratnakaran said the agricultural sector was in crisis and that the Agriculture Department was also responsible for it. All benefits under the welfare schemes should be distributed to the beneficiaries in a time-bound manner, the Minister said. It was suggested that 30 per cent of the Plan allocation of local bodies should be earmarked for the agricultural sector. Staff Reporter

Hartal to be observed in Kayamkulam todayALAPPUZHA: The Alappuzha District Congress Committee (DCC) has called a hartal in the Kayamkulam Assembly constituency in the district from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday in protest against the attack on an Excise team by the spirit lobby at Kareelakulamgara during a raid. DCC president Jayaprakash said the hartal would be peaceful.

Child murderedKOTTAYAM: In a tragic incident, a three-year-old girl was killed when her uncle threw her into a well at Ramapuram, near Pala. According to the police, Chinnu (Ashley), daughter of Papachan and Jessy of Kunnathel House, was thrown into the well by her uncle, Jinson, 25, who was in a fit of rage after a quarrel with his sister, Jessy. Staff Reporter

Hartal in Kayamkulam todayALAPPUZHA: The Alappuzha District Congress Committee (DCC) has called a hartal in the Kayamkulam Assembly constituency in the district from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday in protest against the attack on an Excise team by the spirit lobby at Kareelakulamgara during a raid. DCC president Jayaprakash said the hartal would be peaceful.

Staff Reporter

Bus operators to stage dharnaKANNUR: Bus operators here will take out a march to the district Collectorate and hold a dharna on July 19 to raise their demand that the Government take urgent measures to end the `crisis' facing the private bus service sector. Kannur District Bus Operators' Association Co-ordination Committee said at a press conference here on Monday that the private bus operators were facing serious problems in the wake of the recent hike in fuel prices.

Staff Reporter

Village officer held for accepting bribeMALAPPURAM: The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption wing of the police department on Monday arrested Karulayi special village officer S.G. Nandakumar on charges of taking bribe from a villager. Mr. Nandakumar was caught while accepting Rs.200 from K. Razak belonging to Karulayi. A Vigilance team trapped the village officer, who belonged to Umayanelloor in Kollam district. Staff Reporter

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