In a new development in the controversial Kodakara money heist case, in which allegations of "hawala" connections were raised against the Kerala BJP leadership, the complainants in the case have moved court claiming ownership of the confiscated money. The three people who filed a claim petition in a Thrissur court on Tuesday included complainant Shamjeer Shamsudeen, RSS member AK Dharmarajan and one Sunil Kumar. They also also asked the court to release the confiscated money.
In their petition filed before the judicial magistrate's court in Irinjalakuda, the men claimed that the money looted from the car was meant for business purposes. They claimed that the stolen money and the car used to transport it belonged to them. The development came a day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed the state Assembly that the police had handed over the details of the probe into the April 4 Kodakara hawala heist case allegedly involving the state BJP leadership to the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The petitioners submitted that the money amounting to Rs 1.4 crore, the gold ornaments and other articles seized by the police from the arrested culprits in the heist case and produced before the court, were part of the stolen property. Notably, while filing the police complaint, Shamjeer and Dharmarajan had told police that they had lost only Rs 25 lakh. According to a complaint filed by Shamjeer Samsudheen on April 7, a gang had stopped his car on the Kodakara flyover and looted Rs 25 lakh kept in the vehicle when he was on his way to Kochi from Kozhikode. The complaint had said only Rs 25 lakh was stolen, but an investigation later found that the actual amount could be about Rs 3.5 crore and that it was a "hawala" transaction. Police have arrested 21 people in connection with the case.
In the plea filed before the court now, they have stated that the stolen money belongs to the petitioners, with Dharmarajan being the owner of an amount of Rs 3.25 crore and Sunil Kumar being the owner of Rs 25 lakh. The third petitioner, Shamjeer, is the owner of the Ertiga car in which the money was kept, the petitioners claimed. Petitioners Dharmarajan and Sunil Kumar said they require the money for business purposes. They had also approached the police requesting that at least the seized cash may be returned to them, they submitted.
On Monday, the Kodakara heist case led to a war of words between the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of the Opposition VD Satheesan in the state Assembly, after the Congress leader asked whether there was a plan on part of the Left government to compromise the case for the BJP. Notably, Dharmarajan had earlier confessed to police that the money was meant to be handed over to various BJP leaders in the state.
The BJP in Kerala, facing allegation of using "hawala" money in the April 6 Assembly polls, has accused the CPI(M)-led LDF government in the state of playing the "politics of revenge" against it in connection with the highway heist. The party has alleged that instead of checking the call lists of the accused in the heist case, the police were going through the call list of Dharmarajan, who is the complainant in the case. Instead of nabbing the robbers and recovering the money, the police are looking at how the case can be linked to the BJP, as the person who lost the money had helped the party in its election campaign, it alleged. The BJP has also claimed that barring one, all others arrested in the case are associated with the CPI(M) and the CPI.