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Friday, June 9, 2023

ED arrests Bineesh Kodiyeri in drug running case – will law finally catch up with the CPM leader’s son?

Bineesh Kodiyeri, son of the CPM Kerala state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate from Bengaluru for his role in the purchase and sale of narcotic drugs. Charges against Bineesh include money laundering, drug running, and involvement in dirty businesses, using hawala dealers and criminals.

Bineesh Kodiyeri and Mohammed Anoop

It is believed that Bineesh derives his powers by abusing his father’s position in the ruling party. Bineesh’s growth has been exponential, allegedly due to his father’s influence. Although not a minister in the current cabinet, Balakrishnan still enjoys enormous authority in the cadre-based party. Balakrishnan is a CPM politburo member which is also the highest body of the party.

Serious crimes are said to have been committed either by Bineesh or his cronies but he was never arrested or prosecuted till date. Lower level party cadre, blind to their surroundings, were the usual scapegoats. Bineesh is alleged to be susceptible to violent and eccentric outbursts.

Though the CPM and its allies ruling the state claim that the Modi-run central government is using central agencies to exact revenge on its opponents, they have virtually failed to provide answers for the hard evidence that has been unearthed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) & the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

Bineesh was arrested following revelations by Mohammed Anoop, a drug runner based out of Bengaluru. Mohammed is said to be a close and old confidante of Bineesh, whose clients include many movie stars and musicians in the southern states of Bharat. Mohammed has now spilled the beans and reportedly named Bineesh as his boss, controlling their Bengaluru-based drug business from Kerala. Bineesh lives in Thiruvananthapuram with his parents.

Mohammed was arrested from his Bengaluru flat in August. He and a couple of his accomplices had synthetics drugs (MDMA) worth INR 20 Lakhs and around INR 2 Lakhs in cash on them.

Mohammed also had links with another accused, KT Rameez, a person of interest for various central agencies for his role in the gold smuggling scandal using the diplomatic route that has rocked Kerala (that case has now reached the chief minister’s office)

It also emerged that Mohammed had arranged a safe haven for Swapna Suresh (accused in the gold smuggling scam) while she was on the run from the authorities. This was allegedly done at the behest of Bineesh. Swapna went into hiding following the confiscation of 30 kilos of gold valued at 15 crores at Thiruvananthapuram airport which were allegedly smuggled in by Swapna and her accomplices.

Multiples calls and messages are said to have been exchanged between Bineesh, Mohammed, and Swapna starting from June 30th (the day the gold consignment was withheld at the airport) and continued till July 12th (the day the NIA arrested Swapna and her accomplices from Bengaluru).

Pushed into a corner, Bineesh initially agreed that Mohammed is an old friend and that he had helped Mohammed financially by lending him 6 Lakhs but denied knowledge of his friend’s drug peddling. Mohammed has now admitted to authorities that Bineesh had layered money using his influential friend circle and arranged payments worth 3.5 crores as an investment in the drug business.

Bineesh denied arranging these payments but later retracted and is now not able to show the source of those funds. This has forced the ED (they claim to have enough evidence that Bineesh routed money through his local benamis) to arrest him under the money laundering act. The ED report specifically mentions that Bineesh is not cooperating with them and is evasive.

Serious charges await Bineesh.

Bineesh Kodiyeri – the face of criminalisation of politics in Kerala?

In July the whole country was under lockdown and borders were sealed. Keralites were waiting for days on end at the state borders, for government-issued passes to enter their home state. There were police checkpoints at all major junctions, main roads, district borders, and state borders. It is now alleged that it was Bineesh who used his influence to provide safe passage for Swapna who drove all the way from Thiruvananthapuram, crossed into Karnataka, and eventually reached Bengaluru.

Bineesh, though controversial, is the blue-eyed boy of the higher-ups in the police department of Kerala. Many factors contributed to his popularity but his USP has been the fact that he is Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son. Though Balakrishnan is now the party-state secretary, he has been a minister multiple times during earlier regimes and has even donned the role of a Home Minister. Many corrupt officers are alleged to have been hand-picked by the current home minister (the chief minister himself) and they enjoy unbridled powers.

Bineesh on his Facebook page mentions that he is an actor, cricketer, businessman, humanitarian, and son of the famous CPM leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. Let us take a closer look at the different aspects of his personality.

His role as an actor has led him to play sidekick roles in a few films which no one even remembers now. Using his clout, he became a member of AMMA (an organization of Malayalam film actors and actresses). As far as his acting legacy goes, the joke doing the rounds is that Bineesh’s expression would not change even if he were electrocuted.

He again used his clout to earn membership into the lucrative Kerala Cricket Association and has played in the celebrity cricket league. When questioned by the ED, he confessed that he is not involved in any regular businesses.

Born and brought up near Tellicherry in Kannur district, he migrated along with his family to Thiruvananthapuram in 2001. The senior Kodiyeri was trying his luck at politics and he felt that his presence at the capital city would enhance his chances. Bineesh completed the later part of his schooling and graduation from Thiruvananthapuram. He was an active member of the Students Federation of India (the students wing of the CPM), an organisation known for its violent ways against the establishment & general public.

Multiple criminal cases were filed against Bineesh but none were proven in court. Most of them were for violent crimes that included attacks on police officers, destroying police vehicles, attacking police stations to get his followers released, and an attempt to murder case in Kesavadaspuram where he and his gang members allegedly hacked an innocent named Kiran, causing grievous harm; they mistook him for someone else.

His father is said to have once got him freed from a police jeep after Bineesh was arrested (before the police could take him to the police station).

What is astonishing is the fact that the INC-led coalitions which came to power in between Communist rule also took no action against Bineesh, but were happy to write off his crimes. It shows that both the CPM and INC are just two sides of the same coin.

The Muthoot group based out of Kerala is one of the richest families involved in real estate and gold financing. A family member, Paul George was murdered in 2009. Omprakash, a close associate of Bineesh was allegedly involved but escaped punishment. In fact, the Kerala High Court acquitted eight who were sentenced to life by a lower court. If the family members of the rich and famous can be denied justice, what would be the fate of the common man if pitted against such politically-connected criminals?

One of the most painful crimes was that of Narayanan Namboothiri who was found hanging and the rest of his family poisoned in 2004. An extremely poor poojari (priest) at the Chunathara temple in Kaviyoor, he was living with his wife, a son, and two daughters.

A young Bineesh and several other VIPs including senior police officials and other politicians were allegedly raping the 15-year-old minor daughter of the poojari. A young Bineesh was acting in a movie called Five Fingers during that time (allegedly his benamis were the producers). It was alleged that with help from a pimp and ex-convict named Latha Nair, he befriended the poor Brahmin but his eyes were elsewhere.

The elder daughter of the Brahmin named Anagha was an accomplished classical dancer. Bineesh allegedly promised her a role in his movie and raped her repeatedly, and then along with Latha Nair, they sold the young girl to other VIPs. Later on, when the girl cried foul, Bineesh allegedly wiped out the whole family and tried to pin the blame on the poor father. They accused the Brahmin of raping his own daughter.

The mismanagement of the case was of epic proportions. It included the local police, local intelligence officials, and the CBI. Even the CBI officials and lower courts initially tried to parrot Bineesh’s version but later retracted the same after evidence was found to the contrary. The initial investigation was based purely on the lies being provided to them by none other than the pimp.

The matter still lingers in court and justice has not been served even after 16 years of the murder/abetted suicide.

The ED is now looking into all the alleged benami transactions of Bineesh. He might be sent to the Parappana Agrahara Jail in Bengaluru.

One must also note the role of demonetization, much criticized by CPM and others, in bringing such crimes to light. Had it not happened, these drug dealings would have been easily done using cash which would have made such cross verification and tracking impossible.

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