Jewellery scam leaves IUML in jittery

The gold jewellery scam in Kasaragod district involving party leader and Manjeswaram MLA M.C. Kamaruddin has left the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leadership in an unenviable situation as the party has sensed trouble brewing within its rank and file in the district over the issue.

The case now being investigated by the Crime Branch has already turned into a matter of political embarrassment for the IUML leadership and the United Democratic Front (UDF). More people who have invested money in a jewellery business in the district are turning up to lodge police complaints with charges of cheating against the MLA, who is its chairman, and T.K. Pookoya Thangal, its managing director and local leader of the IUML.

The IUML leadership’s decision on Thursday to remove Mr. Kamaruddin from the post of the district UDF chairmanship and to give him strict direction to pay the investors back the funds they have invested for the jewellery business within six months is seen as a troubleshooting effort. The party has entrusted a senior party leader in the district to mediate the settlement efforts. Thursday’s decision is viewed as a u-turn of the party’s earlier stand that it was not easy for the party to make a decision in the matter.

What has turned the heat on for the IUML leadership is that most of the investors in the business which was folded up months ago are IUML workers and supporters. To capitalise on the situation, the CPI(M) is stepping up its demand for Mr. Kamaruddin’s resignation as MLA. The BJP too has raised the demand. The IUML leadership’s intervention in the issue is seen as an effort to avert potential adverse fallout of the wrath of the investors in the Manjeswaram constituency, a party stronghold.

Though Mr. Kamaruddin has sought to dub the case politically motivated, the IUML leadership is apparently not willing to buy his stand. Party leader Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal’s refusal to meet Mr. Kamaruddin at Panakkad on Thursday shows the party leadership’s displeasure at his involvement in the case.

CPI(M) demands probe

The CPIM) has termed the IUML leadership’s announcement as a bid to save Mr. Kamaruddin and other leaders involved in the ‘fraud’. The party State secretariat in a statement demanded that the government order a high-level inquiry to bring out all details of the case of ‘cheating’ investors.

The statement said that around ₹150 crore had been raised from the investors for the business. IUML workers had been duped to invest after assuring them that IUML office-bearers and their associates were promoters of the jewellery business, the statement alleged.

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