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Friday, June 2, 2023

ED notice to tainted ex-Minister and IUML MLA Ebrahim Kunju: Kerala

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued notices to MLA V K Ebrahim Kunju to appear before investigating officers in a money laundering case worth 10 crores. Ebrahim is the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) MLA from Kalamassery in Ernakulam district of Kerala. He is currently under investigation in other financial discrepancies that he initiated when he was the Public Works Minister in the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) government.

He is alleged to have laundered this amount immediately after the demonetization drive initiated by the central government in November 2016 which was undertaken among other motives, to prevent exactly these kinds of financial crimes. Apparently, Ebrahim used a newspaper owned by his party called Chandrika for this deal. He deposited black money worth 10 crores into the newspaper’s bank account and later arranged for it to be transferred back into his own account.

V K Ebrahim Kunju is also an accused in the Palarivattom flyover scam

He has to appear before the ED officials at their Kochi office on the 22nd of this month. Earlier the High Court of Kerala had allowed the ED and Vigilance Department to initiate proceedings against the MLA and question him. He has been asked to submit a balance sheet for verification.

Ebrahim is currently out on bail, for his role in the disgraceful Palarivattom flyover scam which exposed the nexus between politicians, bureaucrats, and contractors. The case pertains to the decommissioning of a flyover build at Ernakulam on a busy road connecting north and south Kerala within three years of its completion and inauguration. It was supposed to last 100 years and was constructed during the previous regime of the UDF led by Oommen Chandy of the Congress party and their allies including the IUML.

Charges included corruption, conspiracy, and misuse of public funds. Though a few government officials and the contractor were jailed, Ebrahim had obtained bail in that case without jail time mentioning deteriorating health conditions. Suspicions were raised when a co-accused IAS officer had clearly implicated Ebrahim stressing the fact that advance amounts without interest were released to the contractor upon orders from the PWD Minister himself. It is alleged that Ebrahim and his party used their influence to procure bail.

Bail was granted after Ebrahim surrendered his passport to the High Court and conditions were set that he would not travel out of Ernakulam district. This was done after the state attorney had specifically mentioned in court that Ebrahim would use his connections to influence witnesses outside the district.

Incidentally, Ebrahim was recently rebuked by the High Court after he had petitioned it for granting him permission to leave Ernakulam. This was coming from someone that the courts had granted bail claiming an incurable disease and with a fast deteriorating health condition! What were his real motives to travel? Who prepared the medical reports and more importantly why didn’t the courts or the prosecution cross-check? Does the same criterion apply to the common man?

He contended that he was suffering from advanced-stage cancer and that he wanted to pray at different mosques in the state. He added that he had close relatives in different parts of Kerala and it would be difficult for him if the court decides upon a time-frame for him to return back to the district. 

The government prosecutor countered that the charge sheet in the Palarivattom flyover case has not been submitted, as yet. He added that Ebrahim is facing other corruption charges that are under investigation and mentioned another bridge called the Chamravattom regulatory bridge near Ponnani in Malappuram as an example. He went on to supplement that there is a high chance of him intimidating witnesses.

The High Court then orally noted that from the look of things it suspects that Ebrahim had deceived the court when he was granted bail. The court also noted that Ebrahim was seen at different public functions recently. Ebrahim’s lawyer then withdrew the application submitted for relaxation of bail conditions. 

Though the IUML is trying to wash their hands off the tainted ex-minister it is rumored that Ebrahim is trying to arm-twist the party to announce the candidature of his son (an office-bearer of the IUML) for the upcoming assembly elections as the contestant from Kalamassery.

All secular parties in Kerala are full of such shady characters, and hand-in-glove with extremists of various hues. Yet, such is the power of the magical ‘secular shield’ supplied by the influential Lutyens’ establishment that most such news hardly registers on the national consciousness.

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