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Pinarayi Vijayan strikes back as Kerala Vigilance picks up Swapna’s close aide

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Hours after Swapna Suresh, prime accused in the gold smuggling case, slammed Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family for their role in the entire episode on Wednesday, her close aide and now colleague P.S. Sarith was picked up by the Vigilance wing of the police from their flat at Palakkad. Sarith is also an accused in the gold smuggling case.

Hearing about it, Swapna said she has no clue who took Sarith away and this is nothing but retaliation for her revelations.

The media and the local police also descended at the flat where Swapna and Sarith live with her children. Even the local police initially had no clue of who took away Sarith in a Swift Car.

It was revealed later that it was the Vigilance department sleuths who picked Sarith. Hearing about this, Swapna lost her cool and screamed politics is a dirty game.

“The Vigilance has only one case and it pertains to collection of commission in the construction of Life Mission flats. But in the case the 5th accused is M. Sivasankar (former principal secretary of Vijayan and top IAS official, who was also in jail for several weeks and is now out on bail in the gold smuggling case). I am the 6th accused and Sarith is only the 7th accused. They have not served any notice and instead they picked him and it was Sivasankar who should have been picked up first. We are not scared of any investigation as we all were in jail for months,” said an angry Swapna Suresh.

Meanwhile, in a related development on Wednesday morning Vijayan had a closed door meeting with police chief and his deputy.

Soon after that former State Minister and Left supported legislator K.T. Jaleel arrived at the police station next door to the State Secretariat, here and registered a complaint against the baseless allegations levelled against Vijayan, his family and himself.

“I have filed a complaint against these baseless allegations levelled by an accused in the gold smuggling case. This is nothing but a conspiracy hatched against the state government and both the Congress and the BJP have joined in this campaign,” said Jaleel.

“All these allegations which she has raked up again have all been probed by three national agencies and today she has aired the same, but with a lot of spice. We are all supremely confident as all these national agencies probed everything and found nothing. The role of P.C. George and his relation with Swapna is conspiracy,” added Jaleel.

Meanwhile across the state, angry supporters of the Congress led UDF took to the streets demanding resignation of Vijayan and at several places they burnt the effigy of the Chief Minister.

But Vijayan moving around with massive security cover while taking part in a meeting here said, in 2018 the state faced the worst floods in a century.

“Later, the state witnessed a never seen before barrage of allegations (gold smuggling case in July 2020) and it went on and on, with various agencies probing it. Finally the people of Kerala gave us a second successive term in office. The people dismissed all the allegations stating that this is their government. The people are with us,” said Vijayan, who is yet to interact with the media on this issue.

State BJP president K. Surendran asked Vijayan to quit and face the probe as an ordinary citizen.

“Swapna Suresh has told the court everything and hence Vijayan should quit and face a probe and come clean,” said Surendran.

Leader of the opposition V.D. Satheesan, leading the protesters at Kollam, said the probe by various agencies came to a standstill after several Kerala BJP leaders teamed up with the CPI-M to stop this probe then.

“But now things have again come out in the open and it’s strange that when Oommen Chandy had to face lot of issues, that law seems not applicable to Vijayan. This cannot happen. We are looking into all options on how this new revelation needs to be taken up at all fronts,” said Satheesan.

Earlier in the day, Swapna said she has no political or any personal agenda.

“I don’t know about politics and I do not care who is ruling the state, then or now. I have given a statement under 164 of CrPC in the past but none came out. Allow me to live, it’s difficult for me to live. Those ladies, who are wives and daughters including Kamala Vijayan (wife of Vijayan), Veena (daughter), are leading a luxurious life while I am suffering,” said Swapna.

On Tuesday, Swapna first accused Vijayan, his wife and daughter that they had a role in shady things like transferring currency notes to the UAE and also on a few occasions transferred vessels which were used to make biriyani from the residence of the UAE Consul general here to Vijayan’s residence and it contained metal objects.

National News

Delhi HC allows impleading city govt, CBSE, NCERT in plea seeking common syllabus, curriculum across India

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The Delhi High Court has allowed the petitioner to implead the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the Delhi government as parties to his plea challenging the syllabus and curriculum varying for each strata of society and seeking common syllabus for children across the country.

A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Yashwant Varma allowed petitioner advocate Ashwini Upadhyay to move an application to implead the above-mentioned three parties.

The court listed the matter for the next hearing on March 10.

Upadhyay argued before the court that all competitive examinations be it engineering, law and the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) should have a common syllabus.

He said: “But we have multiple syllabus at school level, how will it provide an equal opportunity for students? In Kendra Vidyalayas across the country, we have a common syllabus. Every developed country has a common syllabus in schools. It is unfortunate we are under pressure from the coaching mafia.”

He contended that as per the concerned Articles of the Constitution, students do not get equal opportunities.

Upadhyay’s plea read: “Education mafias are very powerful and have a very strong syndicate. They influence rules, regulations, policies and examinations. The bitter truth is that school mafias do not want one nation-one education board, coaching mafias do not want one nation-one syllabus, and book mafias do not want NCERT books in all schools. That is why the uniform education system up to the 12th standard has not been implemented yet.”

Provisions under the Right To Education Act which excludes madrasas, Vedic pathshalas and educational institutions imparting religious knowledge, were also challenged as per the plea.

“It is necessary to state that the purposive and harmonious construction of Articles 14, 15, 16, 21, 21A with Articles 38, 39, 46 confirms that education is a basic right of every child and the State cannot discriminate against this most important right. Right of a child should not be restricted only to free education, but must be extended to have equal quality education without discrimination on the ground of the child’s social, economic and cultural background,” the plea read.

The plea further said: “Therefore, the court may declare Sections 1(4) and 1(5) arbitrary, irrational and violative of Articles 14, 15, 16 and 21 and direct the Centre to implement common syllabus and common curriculum for the students of I-VIII standard throughout the country.”

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Crime

Teachers scam: WhatsApp chat hinting question paper leak recovered

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 The Enforcement Directorate (ED), probing the multi-crore teachers’ recruitment scam, has recovered WhatsApp chats hinting at possible advance leaking of question papers to select candidates who took the written examination for primary teachers’ posts in West Bengal in 2016.

Sources said that the selective leaking of question papers were mainly done by the youth Trinamool Congress leader, Kuntal Ghosh, who was arrested by the ED from his residence on January 21.

The probe agency has also recovered Whatsapp chats indicating that Ghosh enjoyed the patronage of former state education minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee.

From the documents seized from Ghosh’s residence, the central agency officials have also recovered copies of the admit cards of certain candidates who appeared for the recruitment examination for primary teachers in 2016.

The ED sleuths have come across the names of 35 individuals who secured jobs as teachers in state- run schools by paying money to the arrested youth leader and all of them are currently employed with different schools. Each and every one of them will be questioned to take the investigation forward.

“The recruitment scam seems to be in multiple layers, which again have sub-layers involving multiple players and multiple angles. The uncovering of one layer is leading to other layers. That’s why the investigation process is getting prolonged,” said a legal associate of ED.

The fact that question papers were leaked to select candidates was established after the ED sleuths noticed that some extremely below-average candidates, as per their academic records, scored exorbitantly in the recruitment examination.

Sources said that the marks secured in their academic examinations did not justify their scores in their optical mark recognition (OMR) sheets.

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National News

Goa Police intensify night patrolling for women’s safety

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 In a bid to curb street crimes and to increase safety for women, the Goa Police on Friday announced a special four-wheeler patrol ‘Operation Jagruti’ in the state’s north district.

North Goa Superintendent of Police Nidhin Valsan told media persons that night patrolling will be intensified under this initiative.

“This exercise includes 38 Jagrut North District vehicles having 100 staff deployed from North District and other various units. There are 10 vital routes identified along with additional 40 internal routes in North Goa District in which these vehicles will be patrolling daily from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.,” he said.

Valsan said that besides this, they will attend to all the other calls received from the control room.

“The main intention of this exercise is to assist and help any distressed woman and child during odd hours,” he said.

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