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Antony to shield Pepsi from CPM

Thiruvananthapuram (PTI): Kerala chief minister A.K. Antony on Friday said his government would provide all possible legal protection to a Pepsi plant at Kanjikode in Palakkad district whose licence has been cancelled by the local panchayat controlled by the CPM.

“The decision of the Pudussery village panchayat to revoke the licence has not been received by the government,” Antony said at a meet-the-chief minister programme, organised by the Thiruvananthapuram Press Club.

Lashing out at the CPM for continuing with its agenda of boycotting multinational products in the state, the chief minister said the party should shed its “double standards” on the issue and be “more truthful in its approach”.

Pepsico India Holdings Private Limited came to Kerala during the CPM-led Left Democratic Front regime and now they were opposing the company, Antony pointed out.

“However, we are not going to do anything to push them away from the state,” the chief minister said.

In West Bengal, there were three Pepsi units and two Coca-Cola units. The CPM was boycotting the products of these companies in Kerala while allowing the same to operate in West Bengal, he said, adding that its “attitude was against the development of the state”.

The main reason cited for cancellation of licence was “over exploitation of water resources”. The panchayat decision also forms part of the CPM’s policy of boycotting the products of multinationals in the wake of the US-led war on Iraq.

Indian in Beijing hospital freed

Beijing (PTI): An Indian who had to spend over three weeks in isolation in a Sars-only hospital here was discharged on Friday after recovering from typhoid fever.

“I am a free man now,” the Canada-based Indian, who is on a visit to Beijing, said.

The man, a chef, was admitted to Peking Union Medical College here on April 23 when he showed some symptoms of the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that has hit Southeast Asia. In China, at least 271 people have died of the disease and over 5,000 have been infected.

“Since my family in India would be horrified to know that I was admitted to a Sars-designated hospital, I don’t want to be named,” the man, who hails from a city near Delhi, said. “I will return to Canada and then inform my parents on my experiences here in the isolation ward.”

After initially treating him as a suspected case of Sars, doctors later diagnosed that he was suffering from typhoid fever, a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium salmonella typhi.

One killed in parking row

New Delhi (PTI): Close on the heels of series of road-rage incidents in the capital, one person was killed and three injured when two groups were involved in a fracas over scooter parking in south Delhi.

The incident occurred in Sangam Vihar on Wednesday when one group did not allow a member of another group to park his scooter at a particular place, police said. The deceased has been identified as Hari Om. The police were on the lookout for two persons — Ramesh and — the gang leaders.

Lanka PM

Thiruvananthapuram (PTI): Ranil Wickremesinghe arrived in Kerala on Friday for a two-day private visit. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister, who arrived in Kochi from Colombo, went by road to the temple town of Guruvayur where he will pay obeisance at the famous Sri Krishna temple, officials said. He will return to Colombo on Sunday.

Fire in IA office

New Delhi (PTI): A fire broke out in the Indian Airlines headquarters here early on Friday but no one was injured, fire brigade sources said. The blaze, which erupted around 4.10 am on the second floor of the building located behind the Election Commission of India office, partially damaged two secretariat offices of the domestic carrier, they said.

Mystery fever

Tehri (PTI): A mysterious fever has claimed 13 lives at Tehri in Garhwal district, catching the district administration unawares as additional medical personnel have been called from neighbouring tehsils. “In the last one month, six people have died from a fever which is yet to be diagnosed and seven more have died in the past 15 days. But the reason for these deaths has not yet been ascertained,” said district magistrate Umakant Pawar, who visited the area with the chief medical officer on Friday.

Student drowns

Nashik (PTI): Fourteen-year-old schoolgirl Prachi Shrikrishna Joshi drowned in the Nasik Municipal Corporation pool on Friday. A Class X student of Adarsh School, Prachi was a regular swimmer at the corporation’s Savarkar pool, police said.

The London-based Indian Overseas Congress has protested against the use of the Tricolour on pre-paid telephone cards by Vectone. In response, the firm has decided to retain only the Ashoka Chakra on the card, instead of the Tricolour.


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