Probe in Kodakara hawala case left in the lurch as ED gets cold feet


CG Sankar

“The money came from Karnataka with the knowledge of the Deputy Chief Minister Ashwath Narayan and BL Santhosh, National General Secretary of BJP. They even camped in Thiruvananthapuram to monitor the election activities of BJP. A probe on the source of money will lead to them, the Karnataka government and also BJP central leadership. By avoiding a probe, ED is trying to save all of them,” said Saleem Madavur, National President of Loktantrik Yuva Janata Dal.

Special

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Kochi: It seems the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is least interested in probing the Kodakara black money heist despite the intervention of the high court last year. In a written statement, ED had informed the court that the probe is on and a file for the case was opened. However, when mathrubhumi.com contacted the ED officials they claimed ignorance on the progress of the case.

The lackadaisical attitude of the ED officials towards the case was grossly criticised even from the beginning, and it was termed a move to save BJP leaders from the heat. ED tried to delay the process in the beginning as it several times sought more time to respond when the court issued notice to know its stand on a petition filed last year.

Anand PK, Assistant Director of Enforcement Directorate, who is investigating the case, told mathrubhumi.com that he has been on leave for nearly a month. "I don't remember any of the details of the case. I also don't know who is handling it in my absence,” he said. Another officer, Radhakrishnan, said he has "no clue about the court direction to ED over the case."

The words of ED officials underline their interest in the case as a detailed probe into the source of money robbed in Kodakara may lead to unwelcome political conundrum in many quarters. “The money came from Karnataka with the knowledge of the Deputy Chief Minister Ashwath Narayan and BL Santhosh, National General Secretary of BJP. They even camped in Thiruvananthapuram to monitor the election activities of BJP. A probe on the source of money will lead to them, the Karnataka government and also BJP central leadership. By avoiding a probe, ED is trying to save all of them,” said Saleem Madavur, National President of Loktantrik Yuva Janata Dal.

Saleem is planning to file a right to information query to know the progress of the case and to approach the court again seeking a transparent probe in it.

The Kodakara heist took place three days before the state elections on April 6 last year. In the wee hours on April 3, a group of people waylaid a car (KL-56G 6789) by blocking it from both sides using two cars. Subsequently, the complainant, who is the driver of the car, and his friend were dragged out of the car and manhandled. A sum of Rs 25 lakh and the car, worth rupees eight lakh, were stolen in the incident.

Soon after the incident, the driver of the vehicle, Shamjeer Shamsudeen, informed Dharmarajan, who is named as a hawala agent by police in the chargesheet, about the robbery. A day after the elections, Shamjeer Shamsudeen complained to the Kodakara police station. The investigation later found that the robbed amount was not Rs 25 lakh but Rs 3.5 crore. Police also claim that the money was sourced illegally from Bengaluru through the hawala agent for meeting the expenses of BJP in the state polls.

However, the police could not trace Rs 1.47 crore of the Rs 3.5 crore that was robbed. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) has arrested 22 people and there are 219 witnesses in the case, including prominent BJP leaders. However, none of the BJP leaders were named in the chargesheet submitted by the SIT in the Thrissur Sessions Court. Police were unable to register a case against the BJP leaders as 'hawala dealings' were not within their purview.

It was at this juncture, various political party leaders and social activists approached the ED to intervene and to register a case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. However, ED did not respond to the requests. Usually, ED takes up such cases involving crores of rupees, if there is a predicate offence (a case registered by any law enforcing body).

Saleem Madavoor approached the high court seeking ED probe in the case in April last year and the court issued notice to ED. However, ED was showing a cold attitude towards the case. The hearing adjourned many times in the beginning, as ED sought more to respond. Finally in November last year, ED, in a submission before the court, said that a file was opened on 25-05-2021 on the case and the investigation was on. However, the ED has not made any progress in the probe so far.

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