Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said if MLA and former state minister K T Jaleel had sent any letter to the ruler of UAE for getting 'Madhyamam' daily, a regional newspaper in the state, banned there, the same should not have been done.
Vijayan said he has not spoken to Jaleel since the conclusion of the assembly session and intends to talk to him on the issue soon.
The Chief Minister said the management of the daily had already met him regarding the issue which came forth in a recent disclosure by Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling through diplomatic bags case, in an affidavit filed in the Kerala High Court as part of her plea to quash the FIR lodged against her on a complaint by Jaleel.
Vijayan said he will speak to Jaleel about it and thereafter, the further steps would be decided.
"If such a letter was sent, that should not have happened," the Chief Minister said during a media briefing here.
Earlier in the day, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan, while speaking to reporters here, had raised the issue by saying that a minister of the previous Vijayan cabinet writing a letter to the ruler of UAE was a breach of protocol and if it was done without the CM's knowledge, then the Chief Minister should inquire about it.
The 'Madhyamam' management said they had pointed out the protocol violation by the minister who had written directly to the UAE Consul General and the Chief Minister had positively responded to their complaint.
'Madhyamam' decided to approach the Chief Minister after the key accused in the controversial gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh, had recently claimed that Jaleel had attempted to get the newspaper banned in the UAE.
However, Jaleel had denied the allegations and said 'Madhyamam' had created concerns among non-resident Keralites by publishing photographs of those who died abroad due to COVID-19.
Jaleel had told PTI that he brought to the attention of the consul general about such a news report which claimed that Keralites were dying due to lack of treatment in the Gulf region.
"A state minister writing a letter to the consulate of another country was a protocol violation. Also, his act was a move against the freedom of press. Even the CPI(M) has made it clear that it was not the party's stand. Now, we have met the Chief Minister. The CM said he didn't know about the letter and said will take necessary action. We are satisfied with his response," O Abdhurahman, the Chief Editor of 'Madhyamam', had said in a statement.
Jaleel, however, had said even the Chief Minister had on June 26, 2020 strongly criticised the publishing of photographs of those who lost their lives in Gulf countries.
He had further said he had sent an email from his personal email ID to the consul general to know the details of the news report published by 'Madhyamam' which claimed that many Keralites were dying abroad due to lack of proper treatment.
"I brought this to the attention of the consul general. I have never called for any ban on any media house," he had said.
Suresh, in her affidavit, had told the high court that Jaleel acted against the interests of India by trying to "hoodwink" the ruler of UAE into banning 'Madhyamam' there for gaining political leverage in his party.
She had alleged that Jaleel -- while he was a minister in the previous LDF government -- tried to hoodwink the ruler of UAE by trying to wrongly depict the Malayalam daily's news reports as against that nation.
He did so by illegally writing a letter to the head of that country without having any authority to do so, she had claimed in the high court.
Suresh had also alleged that she was "forced" to go along with the "illegality" on instructions of the UAE Consul General in Kerala.
During the media briefing, CM Vijayan also answered queries regarding the appointment of Sriram Venkitaraman, the IAS officer accused of causing the death of journalist K M Basheer in 2019 in a driving under the influence of alcohol case, as the District Collector of Alappuzha.
The appointment, which is being opposed by the Congress, was part of his service as an IAS officer, the Chief Minister said.
During various stages of his service, he has to be assigned different responsibilities and this was one of them, Vjayan said and added that there has been no lapse from the government in taking forward the case against the IAS officer.
While speaking to the reporters about various other issues, the Chief Minister also blamed the Congress and the previous UDF government led by it for the alleged delay in various national highway projects in the state.
He alleged that due to the laxity on the part of the previous UDF government in acquiring land for the national highway projects, the state had to, subsequently, bear one-fourth of the land acquisition cost. PTI