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Kerala rain fury: death toll rises to 76, over 200k in relief camps

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With many parts of Kerala, search operations in Kavalappara and Puthumala, including Malappuram and Wayanad, have climbed to 76 and 2.87 lakh persons seeking shelter in relief camps.

58 persons are still missing, 50 of them in Malappuram, where the toll is 24, the highest in the state.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is in the state of taking stock of the flood situation in the hill town of Thiruvambady this morning, is part of the Wayanad constituency, which he represents in the Lok Sabha.

“In this tragedy we are all standing with you,” he said, addressing the people in the camp and the Congress and the UDF workers who are providing all the help to those affected.

“I have come here with sadness. There is a tremendous tragedy in Wayanad. I also know today is a festival. Though it is not a happy occasion, I still wish for you Id,” he said.

In many camps, people observed a low-key Id festival with well-wishers looking for food and new clothes.

There was no red alert in any of the 14 districts on August 12.

An official update at 11 AM said that 2,87,585 people have taken shelter in 1,654 relief centers in the state.

With more bodies in recovery, including 24 from Malappuram, 17 from Kozhikode and 12 from Wayanad since August 8, the toll has gone up to 76.

A massive landslide had wrecked havoc in Kavalappara, a 10 acre settlement in Nilambur in Malappuram on August 8 and at least 50 people are still missing.

In Puthumala in Wayanad, another landslide had wrecked havoc the area. Ten bodies have been recovered and seven people are missing.

Efforts are on-the-go relief materials – clothes, medicines and cleaning materials for people who have been displaced and collection centers.

Four trains were fully cancelled — Okha Ernakulam express, Barauni Ernakulam Raptisagar, The Thiruvananthapuram-Ahilyanagari express and the Kochuveli Hyderabad special trains, a Southern Railways press release said this morning.

Meanwhile, the Kerala University has postponed all its examinations to be held on August 13, a release said.

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TN govt honours ISRO chairman K Sivan with prestigious Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam award

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TN govt honours ISRO chairman K Sivan with prestigious Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam award

On Thursday ISRO Chairman K Sivan honored with the Tamil Nadu government’s Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam Award by Chief Minister K Palaniswami.

The award was earlier announced in recognition of Sivan’s stellar work in the promotion of science and technology.

Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, was originally scheduled to receive the award here during the Independence Day celebrations on August 15, but could not do so.

The government had earlier said Sivan would receive the award from Palaniswami on a later date.

Accordingly, the ISRO chief met Palaniswami at the Secretariat here, where the chief minister presented him with the award, which carries an eight-gram gold medal, Rs five lakh in cash and a citation.

The Kalam award is to honor those who work for promoting scientific growth, humanities and students’ welfare and the awardees should hail from Tamil Nadu.

Under Sivan’s tutelage, ISRO had successfully launched Chandrayaan 2, the second mission to the moon on July 22 and he was the chief architect of SITARA, a 6D trajectory simulation software, according to the citation, which also hailed him as “Rocket Man”.

The 62-year-old Sivan was the first graduate in his family who got a Bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1980.

Completing his Master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, he later joined ISRO and was a recipient of several awards including the Dr. Vikram Sarabhai Research Award (1999).

Following the death of former President A P J Abdul Kalam in 2015, late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had then announced an award in his name.

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Chidambaram case handled by CBI was very “Sad and Bad”: Mamata Banerjee

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Chidambaram case handled by CBI was very "Sad and Bad": Mamata Banerjee

On Thursday West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticized the way which CBI agencies handled the arrest of former finance minister P Chidambaram.

The Senior Congress leader was arrested from his Delhi residence last evening by Central Bureau of Investigation after the high drama with some officers scaling the walls to gain entry.

She added that “The way his matter is being handled that is very depressing, that is very sad and bad also.”

She further added that “Sometimes the process is incorrect. I’m not talking of the legality of the matter… Chidambaram is a senior politician, former finance and home minister of the country,”

The 73-year-old was arrested after he failed to get any reprieve from the courts. On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court refused him anticipatory bail, saying prima facie, he was the “kingpin” in the case.

His efforts to get an immediate reprieve from the Supreme Court also failed. The court will hear the case on Friday.

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INX media case: After question hour P Chidambaram to appear in the CBI court

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After question hour P Chidambaram to appear in the CBI court

Former union minister P Chidambaram was questioned for three hours today after he spent the night at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters following his dramatic arrest late on Wednesday from his house in south Delhi by officials who even climbed a boundary wall in their attempts to get to him.

The CBI will take him to court shortly and reportedly ask for maximum custody – 14 days – for his interrogation. Mr. Chidambaram’s wife Nalini and son Karti are in court.

Sources say the CBI is likely to argue that the former minister has been uncooperative and that for the enormity of the offenses involved, the time is very short. The CBI is also likely to tell the court that his questioning in June 2018 threw up new facts that need to be pursued.

Mr. Chidambaram was not questioned all night. He was put up in “Lock-up suite 3” in the guest-house floor of the CBI building, which was inaugurated in 2011 in his presence; as Home Minister of the Congress-led government at the time, he was special guest and, along with then prime minister Manmohan Singh, was taken on a tour of the building and its lock-up facilities.

Mr. Chidambaram is accused of facilitating foreign investment into a television company, INX Media, in 2007, when he was Finance Minister, at the instance of his son Karti Chidambaram, who allegedly received kickbacks. Sources say he will be confronted with files of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, which Mr. Chidambaram headed as a minister.

Mr. Chidambaram and his son were named by INX co-founders Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, who are currently in jail in connection with the murder of Indrani Mukerjea’s daughter Sheena Bora. Mr. Chidambaram has denied the allegations, saying the case is a political witch-hunt by the BJP-led government.

The CBI may confront the former minister with the statement of Indrani Mukherjea, who turned approver in the case and allegedly gave details of her meeting with the Chidambaram.

Karti Chidambaram arrived in Delhi this morning and told reporters at the airport: “They don’t have a case. My father’s arrest is an attempt to silence the most vocal critic of the government.”

Not seen as he was hunted by CBI and Enforcement directorate officers since Tuesday evening, Mr. Chidambaram was arrested 90 minutes after he made a surprise appearance at a Congress press conference. All-day, his lawyers and Congress colleagues Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi had tried without luck to get the Supreme Court to urgently hear his petition for interim protection from arrest. The court decided to take up the petition on Friday.

“I was aghast that I was accused of hiding from the law…On the contrary, I was engaged in the pursuit of justice,” said Mr. Chidambaram, 73.

“Between now and Friday I shall walk with a clear conscience and my head held high. I shall respect the law, even if it is applied with an unequal hand by investigating agencies,” the Congress leader read out from a statement.

Mr. Chidambaram then drove to his home with Mr. Sibal and Mr. Singhvi, where CBI teams had made two visits already.

Caught off guard by Mr. Chidambaram’s appearance, the CBI first went to the Congress office and then to his home.

CBI officials, finding the gates to the building shut, climbed a wall to gain access and then drove their car in.

Chaos erupted between CBI, police and Enforcement Directorate teams, the media contingent and a group of slogan-shouting Congress workers.

Finally, Mr. Chidambaram was arrested and driven to the CBI headquarters.

The senior Congress leader had been granted interim relief from the arrest last year. On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court denied any further protection, referring to the “magnitude and enormity” of the charges and calling him the “kingpin”.

After the High Court ruling, Mr. Chidambaram was not found at his home, prompting the investigation agencies to put out two lookout circulars — meant to stop a person from leaving the country.

In his petition before the top court on Wednesday, the former minister argued that his antecedents are “impeccable” and there is no possibility of him “fleeing from justice”. But his petition was not heard on technical grounds.

The Congress has rallied behind the senior leader, with Rahul Gandhi calling the investigative agencies’ pursuit of Mr Chidambaram a “disgraceful misuse of power” and his sister Priyanka Gandhi saying the former minister was being “shamefully hunted down”.

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