Police say Kerala human sacrifice accused a psychopath; special team to probe case

October 12, 2022 09:51 pm | Updated 09:52 pm IST

The human sacrifice case accused are escorted to a police vehicle in Kochi on October 12, 2022.

The human sacrifice case accused are escorted to a police vehicle in Kochi on October 12, 2022. | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Mohammed Shafi, the key accused along with Bhagaval Singh and his wife Laila in the case relating to the murder of two women as part of an occult practice in Kerala, is a sexual pervert and a psychopath with criminal antecedents dating back a decade, according to the police.

Addressing a press conference shortly after all the three accused were remanded in judicial custody earlier on Wednesday, Kochi Police chief C.H. Nagaraju said that Shafi derived sadistic pleasure from injuring and even killing the victims of his sexual perversion. He has more than 10 cases, including rape, theft, and attempt to murder, registered against him over the last decade.

“In fact, the injuries he had inflicted in the private parts of the two victims were similar to what he had done to a 75-year-old woman he was accused of raping in 2020. Whenever he decided to commit a crime, he developed a relationship and trapped others as partners. In this case, he had trapped the second accused Bhagaval Singh through a false social media profile, offering solutions to those in financial distress. He won the confidence of Singh and his wife Laila, over the last three years, visited their home and exploited their vulnerability into committing the human sacrifice,” said Nagaraju.

Shafi was a class XI dropout who left his house around the age of 16-17. He did an assortment of jobs, roamed about and lived in almost all the districts in the State. In the instant case, he had known the victims as he had kept an eye on local lottery vendors and other locals in his attempt to ensnare targets.

Bhagaval Singh and Laila had initially paid him ₹3 lakh in cash followed by some more. The details of money transactions are being probed.

A special investigation team headed by Mr. Sasidharan, under the supervision of ADGP (Law and Order), has been formed to probe the case. The team will look into both cases registered in connection with the missing of the victims by Kadavanthra and Kalady police.

Government to give ₹22,000-crore grant to oil PSUs to cover LPG losses 

The government will extend a one-time grant of ₹22,000 crore to three state-owned fuel retailers to cover for the losses they incurred on selling LPG below cost in the last two years, I&B Minister Anurag Thakur said.

The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a meeting on Wednesday, approved the grant to Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, Thakur said. The grant will be for covering the losses they incurred from June 2020 to June 2022.

The three firms sell domestic LPG at government-regulated prices to consumers. Between June 2020 to June 2022, the international prices of LPG soared by around 300%. However, to insulate consumers from fluctuations in international LPG prices, the cost increase was not fully passed on to consumers of domestic LPG, an official statement said.

Accordingly, domestic LPG prices have risen by only 72% during this period, it said adding this led to significant losses for the three firms.

Further, the Minister also said that the Union Cabinet has approved the payment of productivity linked bonus (PLB) to railway employees for the financial year 2021-22.

Payment of PLB to eligible railway employees is made each year before the dussehra/puja holidays. This year too, PLB amount equivalent to 78 days wages has been paid to about 11.27 lakh non-gazetted Railway employees. The maximum amount payable per eligible railway employee is ₹17,951 for 78 days. The above amount has been paid to various categories, including track maintainers, drivers and guards, station masters, supervisors, technicians, technician helpers, controllers, pointsmen, ministerial staff and other group ‘C’ staff.

Did you achieve objectives of demonetisation, Supreme Court asks government, RBI

A Constitution Bench has asked the government and the Reserve Bank of India whether they have realised their stated objectives of choking black money, terror financing and fake currency through the policy to demonetise ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes in 2016.

“What about black money and terror funding,” Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, heading the five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, asked while hearing 58 petitions challenging demonetisation.

The court’s question came despite the government urging the Bench not to “waste” judicial time on the issue. Attorney-General R. Venkataramani termed the case “academic” in nature as things had long settled. Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta questioned the very maintainability of the case, which concerned a purely economic policy of the government.

Senior advocates P. Chidambaram and Shyam Divan, for petitioners, said the issue was “very much alive”. Demonetisation in 1946 and 1978 were implemented through separate Acts debated by Parliament. In 2016, it was done through a mere notification issued under provisions of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. They said the court should declare the law or nothing would stop the government from repeating the exercise which had seen “horrendous consequences”.

Chidambaram, citing the RBI’s annual report, submitted that ₹15.44 lakh crore worth of currency was demonetised. The withdrawn money amounted to 86.4% of the currency in circulation at the time. Only ₹16,000 crore out of the ₹15.44 lakh crore was not returned. He said only .0027% fake currency was “captured” following demonetisation.

But Justice V. Ramasubramanian, on the Bench, said maybe all fake currency holders had not dared to come forward to try and exchange their counterfeit currency for the new ones. Their currency out there might have been rendered useless by demonetisation.

The senior lawyer also said crucial documents leading to the massive exercise, including the government’s letter on November 7 to the RBI seeking recommendation for withdrawal of ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes, the agenda note of the meeting held by the RBI Board without several of its independent directors and the recommendation of the RBI Board for demonetisation were not in the public domain. He asked the court to call for them.

He said 11 crore people stood in queue to change their own money. Farming community was at a loss. It was sowing season. Wholesale markets shut down. Prices crashed. Retail saw a “calamitous” drop in sales. Industry halted and 15 crore daily labourers were left without work.

The court wondered whether the government had thought about the consequences before going ahead with the withdrawal of the banknotes. It scheduled the next hearing on November 9 and directed the government and the RBI to file comprehensive affidavits in response to Chidambaram’s submissions.

Gambia cough syrup deaths | CDSCO to examine Maiden Pharma’s role, Haryana sends notice to firm

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has said it will examine the response of Haryana-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited to allegations of serious violations of norms set for the production of drugs by the Haryana State Drugs Controller.

Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij said that authorities inspected a Maiden factory in the town of Sonepat in the State and found 12 violations of good practices. Production was ordered stopped, he also said.

A photograph shows collected cough syrups in Banjul, the Gambia on October 6, 2022.

A photograph shows collected cough syrups in Banjul, the Gambia on October 6, 2022. | Photo Credit: AFP

The State Drugs Controller-Cum-Licensing Authority, Department of Food & Drugs Administration, Haryana, issued the notice under the rule 85(2) of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules, 1945 to Maiden Pharma asking as to why the firm’s manufacturing licence should not be suspended/cancelled since many contraventions were found during inspection. The company’s response is expected by the end of the week.

The World Health Organisation on September 29 informed the Ministry about four cough syrups – Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup — manufactured by the company allegedly being a contributing factor leading to the death of children in Gambia. The WHO issued an alert stating that the medicines may have been contaminated with diethylene glycol or ethylene glycol.

The Haryana State Drug Controller in its seven-page show-cause notice said that there have been serious violations of norms set for the production of drugs and has raised red flag over multiple discrepancies detected after inspecting the Maiden Pharmaceutical’s manufacturing facility in Sonepat.

In its communication dated October 7 addressed to the company and issued by Manmohan Taneja, the State Drug Controller Cum Licensing Authority, FDA Haryana said: "Your reply to this show-cause notice must reach this office within 7 days of the receipt of this notice, failing which ex-parte action shall be liable to be taken against you as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 & Rules, 1945."

It has further said that the "Firm failed to produce the log books of equipment and instruments regarding manufacturing and testing for the drugs in question and that it did not perform process validation and analytical method validation for the drug products in question." Also batch numbers of Propylene Glycol (P.G) IP and Sorbitol Solution and (70%) IP in the certificate of analysis respectively have not been mentioned, which was used in manufacturing of drugs in question.

Xi Jinping all set to rewind China’s clock back to ‘one leader rule’ of Mao era

China's ruling Communist Party is set to slide back to its founder Mao Zedong's era soon as President Xi Jinping is set to break the decades-old 10-year term rule to cling in power and perhaps for life, amid mounting pressure from the U.S.-led West against Beijing's aggressive quest to become a dominant world power.

On Sunday, 2,296 delegates, “elected” under the ideological parameters set by the 69-year-old Xi, will attend the carefully-choreographed Communist Party's once-in-a-five-year Congress, which is widely expected to endorse his continuation in power.

The outcome of the in-camera Party Congress is expected to end two very strict five-year term limits followed by Xi's predecessors to avert the danger of the one-party state becoming a country with a single leader dominating the political scene.

The party which controls all limbs of governance including the military, the judiciary and legislature are in the cusp of returning to the 'One Leader' rule amid its toughest period of economic slowdown exasperated by the 'Zero COVID' policy, increasing adversity with the U.S. and the West besides uneasy relations with neighbours like India and Japan.

Xi’s backers at the higher echelons of the CPC describe his successful campaigns to eradicate extreme poverty, end civil unrest in Hong Kong against China, the massive reform and consolidation besides modernisation of the Chinese military and enhancement of Beijing’s influence across the world with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as his major achievements.

The heightening Russia-Ukraine conflict, the growing trade war with the U.S. besides the increasing hostility from Washington and the West to stifle China’s rise, empowering Taiwan, which China claims as its own, are the reasons for a strong leader like Xi to continue, they argue.

In Brief:

Retail inflation rises to 7.41% in September; industrial sectors hit

India’s retail inflation accelerated to 7.41% in September from 7% in August, with food price inflation surging sharply from 7.62% in August to 8.6% in September, the National Statistical Office said. At 7.41%, September’s retail inflation level is the highest since April this year, when price rise had hit a nearly eight-year high of 7.79%. This is the ninth month in a row, when inflation has stayed above the Reserve Bank of India’s upper tolerance threshold of 6%. Meanwhile, Industrial output contracted 0.8% in August from the minor 2.2% growth recorded in July, with both manufacturing and mining sectors reporting lower outputs than a year ago. Overall industrial production levels were also 2.3% lower than in July 2022. Manufacturing output saw a decline of 0.7% from August 2021 levels and was 1.48% lower than July 2022, while the mining sector dropped 3.9% from a year ago and 0.95% below July levels.

Russia detains eight suspects over Crimea bridge blast

Russia’s Federal Security Service said that it had detained five Russians and three citizens of Ukraine and Armenia over the explosion that damaged the Crimea Bridge last Saturday. The FSB said the explosion was organised by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry and its director Kyrylo Budanov. However, Ukraine has not officially confirmed its involvement in the blast, but some Ukrainian officials have celebrated the damage.

Evening Wrap will return tomorrow.

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