CPM secy in soup over riding car owned by smuggling suspect

CPM secy in soup over riding car owned by smuggling suspect
Kerala’s ruling CPM and its state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan are in the line of fire after Balakrishnan was found to have used a car owned by a gold-smuggling case accused during a political rally in Kozhikode. 

This happened during a reception accorded to Balakrishnan at Koduvally during the Jana Jagrata Yatra, a rally led by the CPM secretary. Indian Union Muslim League state secretary M C Mayin Haji and BJP general secretary K Surendran pointed out that the Puducherry-registered MINI Cooper Balakrishnan travelled in belonged to Karat Faisal, seventh accused in a 2013 case pertaining to gold smuggling through the Karipur airport.  

Even as the CPM district leadership downplayed the incident, attributing it to an error in local-level transportation arrangements, the Congress-led opposition and the BJP appeared to be in no mood to relent.

“You can’t expect someone from outside the area to know who owns the car. The party will examine the allegations regarding the owner’s involvement (in the smuggling case),” Balakrishnan said on Thursday. Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala called the incident shameful and said it exposed the CPM’s “real face”.

Faisal clarified that he did not know Balakrishnan personally and had allowed the organisers to use his car for the rally following requests from local party leaders.

He, however, denied Surendran’s allegation that he was charged under provisions of the Conservation Of Foreign Exchange and Prevention Of Smuggling Activities (COFEPOSA) Act in the smuggling case. 

The Karipur gold smuggling racket was busted in late 2013 and the directorate of revenue intelligence arrested the gang’s leader, Koduvally native Shahbaz, in 2015. On Thursday, Shahbaz confirmed to television channels that Faisal was his former partner.
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